Apparently the body bar has been around since 1987, so where has it been all my life? I just discovered it a few years ago. I’d never seen one in any Utah gym but when I moved to California they were everywhere. I first used one in a Pilates class and then began hoarding them for all my workouts.
Used for resistance and balance exercises, this weight—sometimes called a “sculpting bar” or “sculpting stick”—is a slender 4-ft pole that ranges from 3-24 lbs. Your gym will probably have 9, 12, 15 and 18 lbs, an ideal range for most of your toning exercises.
Working Out with a Big Stick
These bars are made of steel and come with a rubber, plastic or padded covering (I especially like the cushioned grip option). The bar’s real perk is its ultimate flexibility. From presses, rows and curls to dead-lifts and leg lifts, you can work it into just about everything. In addition to the classic model, there are bendable, long, mini, sectional bars to suit any occasion.
I’ll admit the body bar does sound (and look and feel) a bit strange at first. But once you trade your dumbbell for this amazing product, you will understand its appeal. How often do you get to work your core, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and inner and outer thighs… with one single piece of equipment?
Raising the Bar: Arm-Sculpting Exercises
Mine is 12 lbs and breaks into three 4-lb pieces. It twists and locks in place so it’s completely stable as a full bar, but being able to separate it adds tons of options for an uninterrupted workout. The full bar can be used for unilateral movements like overhead extensions, rowing (like you would row a canoe with a paddle), and balance activities. From there, break it apart for bilateral movements like bicep curls.
Another plus with the segmented bar: you can adjust resistance without heading back to the rack for a different weight. Start with one segment and gradually add on as you condition your body.
If you already have a one, you’ll love these four fundamental body bar moves from Women’s Health.
The Secret to Victoria’s Secret-Worthy Legs
Another reason the body bar beats dumbbells: you can use it to tone your legs. Most women want long, lean legs, which is where the body bar comes in handy. Adding resistance with the bar lets you build and define the leg muscles without adding the bulk that often comes from using your full body weight (i.e., squats and lunges).
If you’re a beginner, you can use the bar for balance while performing standing inner and outer leg lifts—or get the full resistance with a floor leg lift. The inner thigh lift with bar is great for toning the impossibly-stubborn inner thigh area. The bar is easy to control from this angle once you get the hang of it. Add resistance by extending the bar further off your leg.
Is a body bar the ideal free weight for women? I’ve heard many people say so. I’m not sure if it’s because the weighted-bar works better with our body contour or because it better suits our goals. Maybe we just think it’s more svelte than clunky, ice-cold dumbbells?
Of course, it isn’t just about style: using it can add new dimensions to your workout, like balance, coordination and variety. It’s also a handy prop for poses that require standing on one leg!
The body bar is ideal for a home gym where space and equipment are limited. The Firm and The Body Bar sell them for about $25-$75 online, but I bought my Gaiam body bar on sale for 20 bucks (and it came with a DVD!).
Think the body bar is just for girls? Men’s Health will prove you wrong! Try these serious six-pack-sculpting body bar exercises.