Have you noticed the long bars with colorful ends tucked into the corner of your gym somewhere? Ever wonder what the heck they are or how in the world you use them? Those bars are toning bars, or body-toning bars, and they are just another way to add resistance to your workout.
What: Toning bars are weighted, exercise bars that are made out of steel and enclosed in a dense foam for a comfortable grip.
Area of body it works: It depends on the workout but the bars can be used to train the upper body, abdominals, lower body, and core.
Why: The bars are versatile tools for strengthening, conditioning, and flexibility training. They're used in a wide variety of workouts including (but not limited to) strength training, circuit training, interval training, kickboxing, martial arts, sports conditioning, core training as well as in Pilates and yoga.
How: Pick a sufficient weight (one that challenges you, but doesn't cause you to lose form) and use the bar in place of dumbbells or a barbell for exercises like chest presses and bicep curls in order to get even weight distribution for arm and chest exercises. Also, use the bar for balance and keeping good posture when doing deadlifts, squats, and lunges. There are tons of options for using the bars, so you can get creative but two of my favorite exercises to do with a bar are bent-over row (upper body) and plié squats (lower body). To learn how to do these
- Bent-over row: Start with feet at hip-width apart, grip onto the bar (palms facing the body). Bend over at the hip at a 45-degree angle and keep the back straight and the knees slightly bent. Slowly pull the bar to the chest while trying to squeeze the shoulder blades together. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
- Plié squat: Begin with feet wide, toes facing out. Tuck the tailbone under and grip the bar, palms facing the body. While keeping the abs tight, lower into the plié (drop tailbone toward the floor). At the same time, slowly raise the bar to shoulder level. Hold for two seconds and slowly return to start.