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 four-foot pole that ranges from 3-24 pounds. Your gym will probably have 9, 12, 15, and 18 pounds, an ideal range for most of your toning exercises.
Working Out with a Big Stick
Body 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, and sectional bars to suit any occasion.
I’ll admit body bars does sound (and look and feel) a bit strange at first. But once you trade in your dumbbell for this amazing product, you will understand its appeal. How else can you work your core, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and inner and outer thighs with only one piece of equipment?
Raising the Bar: Arm-Sculpting Exercises
My body bar is 12 pounds and breaks into three four-pound 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 you can break it apart for bilateral movements like bicep curls.
Here’s 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
Here’s another reason body bars beat 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 body bars 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 body bars 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!
A 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.