Before barre, I honestly never thought too much about arms. Mine or anyone else’s. Although I did the typical (but unhealthy) “Mean Girls” dissection of my body and its flaws, my arms were towards the end of the list of concerns, but not necessarily a point of pride either. I just didn’t pay much attention. But when I started barre, I did notice that many of my classmates had incredibly sculpted and toned limbs and I remember after only about a month of consistent classes receiving many compliments on my recent acquisition of said arms. The transformation in my body in such a short amount of time AND the fact that I was using only 2 lb. weights (which seemed shockingly heavy!) was crazy to me. I was historically someone who was quite weak and although I’ve definitely come a very long way in terms of strength, the arms section of barre has never gotten any less challenging! In fact, I’d argue that perhaps it’s only become even more so, as I better understand how to maintain isometric contraction in the muscles throughout the work. Need more convincing? Try this little 10 minute barre arms workout and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.
10 Minute Barre Arms Workout – First a couple tips:
- You’ll want to maintain good posture and stand in good alignment. Your feet should be hip distance apart and parallel to one another. Keep a soft bend in your knees and find a neutral spine/tucked position by pulling your abs in and up, reaching crown of the head to the ceiling and tailbone down to floor – this engages your core and protects your low back. Keep your neck long, shoulders pulled away from your ears and your shoulder blades pulling back towards one another and down. Try not to lean forward or back – your shoulders should be stacked right over your ribs and your ribs right over your hips.
- Your focus should be on CONTRACTION, not MOMENTUM. Try to connect deeply into the muscles rather than allowing them to swing or float. Concentrate on moving from the leader muscle first and control the movement in both directions.
- This is a quick workout that will take only approximately 10 minutes in total, but it gets intense quickly with good form. After you go through it once you can repeat 2 – 3 more times or until fatigued or you can make it more full body by adding this to another one of the workouts here.
- You should shoot for about 30 seconds for each exercise. To make it easier than counting or thinking about the time, you can use an interval stopwatch timer on your phone or watch. I like the app “Seconds.” Try to make the transitions between sets seamless or at least as quick as possible without breaks.
10 Minute Barre Arms Workout – The Warm Up:
- 30 Seconds. Start with your feet hip distance apart and parallel with your arms extended overhead and draw the knees to your chest, pull your abdominals in and back and lifting the crown of your head up to the ceiling to lengthen your spine. Make sure to lift from your ribs nice and tall, but keep the shoulders dropped away from your ears.
- 30 Seconds. Continue lifting the knees, with the arms up overhead but add a pulldown to your sides, leading with your elbows. Reach all the way up to the sky, keeping your shoulders low and then pull down strongly, squeezing your upper back and shoulder blades together behind you.
10 Minute Barre Arms Workout – Ready to get sweaty?!
Set One: Shoulder Presses – 60 seconds total
30 Seconds – Bring your arms to shoulder height, making a number 11 shape with your elbows right in line with your shoulders and your wrists stacked right over your elbows. Try to keep the elbows pulling in tightly towards one another and then push the weights (or your fists) further away from your head and a little higher to form a 90 degree angle. Push the shoulders down as you punch the arms up in opposition, keep pulling the elbows in and the neck long.
30 Seconds – Maintain the same shape, but just start to alternate the arms, punching one weight towards the ceiling at a time, but pressing both shoulders down away from the ears strongly the whole time.
Set Two: Hammer Curls Series – 2 minutes total
30 Seconds – Hammer curl in parallel with arms down to sides and long then squeeze the bicep to draw the weights/fists into the shoulders and lower back down with control. Your goal is to keep the elbows tight to the sides of the body the whole time, not allowing them to move while you squeeze the muscle to contract and then lengthen. Think ALL the way into your shoulders and then ALL the way long to your sides right from the belly of that bicep.
30 Seconds – Limit the range! Maintain the same movement, but this time keep it upper range only. You’ll still hammer curl all the way to the shoulders, but stop the arms at about hip height right when you reach a 90 degree angle. Think of hitting an imaginary wall and squeeze the biceps tightly on the way up to your shoulders and down to your hips.
30 Seconds – Hammer + Supination curl. You’ll bring it back full range now, hammer curling all the way to the shoulders and then all the way down to hips, but this time – keeping the squeeze in the bicep! – you’ll circle the weights out to the sides into a low W shape and then curl in toward the shoulders/out to the sides. Release back down to hips in parallel and repeat.
30 Seconds – On the last one, leave your arms out to the sides in that low W and continue to hammer curl to sides/into the shoulders and then back out to that W (without bringing back into parallel). At this stage you’ll want to send your elbows further away from the body, but still keep them super still while you move the weights. Palms should stay facing forward and the heads of the weights will come in towards you as you curl in and then towards the floor as you extend out.
30 Seconds – Again, limit the range! Maintain the same movement, but this time keep it upper range only. You’ll still hammer curl all the way to the shoulders, but stop the arms at about hip height right when you reach a 90-ish degree angle. Think of hitting an imaginary wall and squeeze the biceps tightly on the way up to your shoulders and down to your hips.
30 Seconds – Keep going, but start to alternate the arms, curling only one arm in at a time and holding the other one perfectly still at that halfway in range before switching over.
Set Three: Biceps Curls Series – 60 seconds total
30 Seconds – Flip the palms to the ceiling now and start to curl both arms at the same time in to the shoulders and then all the way long again out to the sides. Keep the elbows further away and floating from the body, but still keep them super still while you move the weights. As you curl and extend, very slowly migrate the weights out from the sides into parallel out in front of you.
30 Seconds – Hold the weights in parallel with palms up and glue the elbows into the sides of your body. This time you’ll keep curling but limit to lower range only. The weights will extend long towards your thighs/the floor and then stop at 90 degrees around your hip bones. Think of hitting a wall and squeeze biceps tightly on the way down and up.
Set Four: Upper Back Rows – 60 seconds total
30 Seconds – hold the arms in parallel at hip height and then incline the chest forward. The back should be a very straight diagonal line from the top of the head to the seat bones, abs drawing in and away from the floor. Punch the arms long on the low diagonal and then use the upper back to row back, drawing the arms back and keeping the elbows high. Then punch forward and repeat, palms stay facing up to ceiling.
30 Seconds – Keep going, same movement but now turn the palms in to face each other.
Set Five: Triceps – 90 seconds total
30 Seconds – Keep going, but this time once the elbows are back at their furthest, highest point, extend the arms long and straight behind you into a triceps kick back (arms should be as tight as possible towards the midline of your body, as straight as possible and as long as possible – engaging your triceps intensely and drawing abs in) and then maintaining the squeeze of the triceps and keeping the elbows still bend the weights towards your shoulders and then extend long on the diagonal and repeat all four steps.
30 Seconds – Hold the elbows high and weights to shoulders and then kick back and lower to hips only. Keep the arm stick straight and reaching long the whole time and stop the travel in right at the hips as if you’re hitting that imaginary wall, then lift up high, long and straight as possible behind you.
30 Seconds – Hold the arms at their highest, longest, straightest position behind you and pulse to lift them up. The heads of the weights should be towards the ceiling and the floor, not even a micro-bend in the elbows and you want to think all up and no down, pulsing from the triceps/top and back of the arms.
Set Six: Rowing – 30 seconds total
30 Seconds – Lower arms back to the low diagonal in front of you, maintaining the hip hinge forward, but now flip the palms down to face your body. Glue the heads of the weights together and then row the elbows wide out to the sides and then lower back down and forward with control. You want to lead with the elbows and the upper back in both directions, taking them as wide to the sides as possible and then all the way long out in front of you on the lower.
Stretch and Cool Down – 30 seconds total
30 Seconds – Set those weights down and make sure you give yourself as well deserved stretch, focusing on the front and back of the arms, the shoulders, and upper back. Give the neck and shoulder a few rolls out and give yourself a round of applause for sticking it out!