Raise the bar

This overlooked piece of gym equipment might be the most effective way to work every angle.

It doesn’t always get the same attention as the ViPR or the kettlebell, but trainers say the body bar is ruthlessly effective at challenging your balance and core in a 360-degree way. “The body bar is an awesome tool because it is so versatile,” says Equinox Century City tier 3+ trainer Chloe Levray.

As its name suggests, the bar is a full-body experience: The long, thin lever comes in various weights and you must control the movement with all the stabilizers in your muscles—especially your core. “This is a good thing because human beings live and function in a multi-dimensional world,” says Levray. “We need to be able to control our bodies in all directions, in all planes of motion. The bar helps us train that.”

Below, Levray demos eight creative exercises to do with a body bar. Start with a 12-pound bar and work up to a 15-pounder. Perform four rounds of each exercise, resting two to three minutes between rounds.

Around the World
Stand with feet hip-width apart; place hands towards the bottom of the bar and press it out in front of you, vertically. Drop the bar behind your back and swing it around to end in your starting position. Repeat in the opposite direction, making sure that your lats stay activated. If you are feeling your traps in this move, bend your elbows in your start and end position. Repeat 10 times in each direction.

Squat Pendulum
Get into a squat position. Place your hands low on the bar. (The lower your hands, the more difficult the exercise.) Press the bar out vertically in front of your body. With control, swing the bar towards your right until it becomes parallel to the ground; bring it back to vertical. Repeat on the left side. If you feel any discomfort in your traps, bend your elbows. Perform 10 reps in each direction.

Overhead Hinge
Stand with feet hip-width apart and bring the bar above your head in a horizontal position, hands wide. Leading with your hips, hinge back, hold for a couple of seconds; then come back to standing position. Repeat 10 times.

Hinged T-Spine Rotation
Get into a hinged position with bar parallel to the ground, hands and feet both slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your arms straight, rotate your body towards one side using your thoracic spine. When you reach the end of your range of motion, hold for a couple of seconds. Return to start and repeat on the other side. That's one rep. Do 5 reps total.

Lateral Lunge with Abduction
Stand with feet together, holding the middle of the bar horizontally at your left side. Perform a lateral lunge with the right leg while raising your left arm and the bar. Do 10 reps, then repeat on the other side.

Transverse Canoe
Stand with the feet hip-width apart while holding the bar in front of you, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Make a figure 8 with the bar as you perform a transverse lunge to the right. (Keep the left foot pointed straight ahead, step back and out to the right side with the right foot and place it facing in the 4 o’clock direction.) Return to start. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Bar Walk
Hold the middle of the bar, horizontally, at your left side. While walking, bring the bar overhead and back down in a controlled manner. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Angled Plank
Note: This is a very advanced exercise and is not to be attempted by the novice trainee. Ask a trainer for help if you're trying it for the first time.
Grab the heaviest bar and find a rigid, non-slippery surface. Position the bar at around a 120-degree angle on the ground. With feet at a wide stance, place one hand at the bottom of the bar and the other hand about a foot or two away from the other. Slowly lower the bar down towards the ground using your top hand to control the movement. Get as low as you can. Slowly pull yourself back up. Repeat 3 to 5 times. Switch hand positions and repeat.

Photography by Sam Kweskin. Art direction by Kathryn Marx. Hair and makeup by Paige Smitherman.

Chloé wears a Racer Bra from Onzie Flow and leggings from P.E Nation, available at The Shop at Equinox.

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