Sometimes you don’t have time for the gym. Sometimes you don’t even have a membership to a gym (or that resolution-driven trial already expired). Sometimes you don’t feel like going to that group class because, ugh, all the reasons. That’s where we step in with five barre-inspired workout moves you can do anywhere brought to you by Bar Method instructor and Zella Pro, Lilani Estacio.
With a degree in nutrition, a background in dance as a performer and as an instructor for almost six years, Lilani is a go-to guru when it comes to anything fitness. We asked her to show us five of her favorite barre-inspired moves you don’t actually need a barre for. Get your fit on whenever the mood strikes (or maybe more likely, when you’re just able to find a little time to spare). From a better booty to thigh-sculpting leg lifts—all in, it’s a 10-minute-or-less workout you can tackle wherever you can find a floor.
Pretzel works the booty, specifically the gluteus medius and the hamstring, which I like to refer to as the “pedestal for your glutes.” The movement is small but, it’s so effective and gets right into the muscle—like you are literally sculpting the muscle back there. The best part about pretzel is that it also works your obliques and posterior muscles. This is my favorite because of how effective it is. You feel pretzel later in the day and next day…and if you’re lucky, the next. To work the right glute:
1: Bring your left leg forward (bend knee in front of the hip at a 90-degree angle, or with ankle in line to your knee). Bring right knee behind right hip and angle the hip downward toward the ground.
2: Line up left finger tips with left knee and hold onto right ankle with right hand. Move your upper body away from right foot/leg until the right knee hovers from the floor or bring upper torso over left knee so that right knee hovers from the floor.
3: Once knee is hovering, use your right seat/glute muscle to initiate up and down movement.
Repeat on other side. Time per side: 60-80 reps or 3 minutes.
PLANK KNEE BENDS
There are so many iterations of the plank, but there are a few crucial cues that make it specific to Bar Method.
1: It is one of the most effective ways to warm up the front side of your body (chest, top of quads, hamstrings, upper back and deep ab muscles).
2: If you need to modify, you can, but make sure to do so on your knees with your legs still only hip-width apart and with your feet pointed up.
3: The bending and stretching of the legs is an optional challenge; if you feel your hips moving up or down, you have lost your form, and it is more effective to just hold still than to bend the knees.
4: Hand position: two loose fists is the most natural for both your wrist and shoulders
Time to hold: shoot for one minute, and increase as you grow stronger!
Pushups are a classic. They can be done a dozen different ways, and they can literally be done anywhere! At Bar Method, the goal is to strengthen pectoral, biceps and triceps and, secondarily, to continue working the abs and entire front side of the body. Again, form and setup are what make these pushups different from the others.
1: Hands should be shoulder-width apart with fingertips slightly turned in.
2: Glutes should be gripped (this engages the lower abs and protects the lower back). Keep your legs straight and hip-width apart (you can modify on knees, if needed, with feet pointed up).
3: Gaze straight down so the head and neck are in line with spine. When lowering, elbows should bend down at a diagonal toward your waist. This works both the biceps and triceps. Your elbows should never lock, and the movement should be controlled in both directions.
Only lower yourself to the point where you can maintain your form, in other words, if your hips begin to dip or lift up higher, or if your knees begin to bend, decrease your range and only lower yourself to the point that you can maintain a nice solid core and form.
If you have a wrist injury or sensitivity, these can be done at an angle against a wall, sturdy table or barre. Just make sure you are on the balls of your feet when doing so.
Reps: 1 set of 20 for novice. Pro-style? 3 sets of 20 or 2 sets of 30.
TRICEP-TONING REVERSE PUSHUPS
A lot of people think biceps when they think of strong arms not realizing it is the triceps that is the largest muscle in the upper arm. Reverse pushups are intense, effective and it doesn’t take many to get the job done (40 reps is a good number). The setup of reverse pushups is the most crucial. I’ve done so many different workouts that set people up incorrectly, and it makes me cringe because of the risk of wrist injury and/or the complete loss of form and effectiveness.
1: Fingers should point forward and be positioned slightly away from the body.
2: Legs should be hip-width apart.
3: The rib cage should be in between the inner/upper part of the arms with the seat about 10 inches away from wrists.
4: Elbows should bend directly back and should never completely straighten or lock out.
THIGH-SCULPTING LEG LIFTS
Leg lifts are one of many exercises we do in the thigh portion of class. It’s important that there is a barre, chair, window sill, wall or something stable to hold onto for balance.
1: Set up your body in a turned-out position—start with heels together and toes naturally turned out into a V shape.
2: The working leg is brought forward and then lifted up to the highest point where you feel your quad/thigh muscle catch.
3. The muscles of the inner thigh and top of quad are used in addition to the strength in one’s abs and lower back to maintain the height of the leg.
4. Instead of using the momentum of the leg or gravity to bring your leg up and down, use controlled movement in both directions.
Duration: 60-80 reps or 1-1 1/2 minutes per leg.