Anatomy of Barre

By AFM Staff – February 1, 2016
photography by Brian Fitzsimmons


This is a move that you’ll see a lot more of in Bar Move classes and is usually thrown in at the end of a seat exercise like Arabesque or Pretzel just when your muscles are feeling really fatigued. 

What it works: It targets multiple groups including yours Lats, Biceps, Glutes and Erector spinae, shaping your upper back, arms and seat muscles

Set up

Face the bar, kneel down in front of it and step forward with your left foot 
Place the ball of your left foot against the corner where the wall meets the floor. 
Slide your other leg behind you on the floor in a lunge position
Take the bar with your hands in a firm under-handed grip and bend your elbows downward
Curl your back toes under and lift your leg off the floor and pull your foot into your seat, bend your front knee over your ankle. 
Lift your chest and draw your shoulders down 


Pull your foot toward your seat, in a one-inch range of motion while gripping into your right glute


performed by Nikki Jensen, The Bar Method Austin | photo by Brian Fitzsimmons


This is one of the most ballet-inspired seat exercises that is achievable for anyone and works multiple muscle groups at the same time. 

What it works: Targets your outside seat, waist and upper back, improving posture, stamina, and is designed to create a dancers body 

Set up

Face the bar and stand an arms’ length away from it
Place your hands on the bar slightly wider than shoulder width apart
Place your feet in a wide V, and soften your knees
Lift your left foot, point it and put it on the floor behind your hip 
Keep both legs turned out and both knees soft 
Raise your left leg off the floor to hip- height as you hinge forward at your hips, and lower your forehead so it’s almost brushing the bar
Hold your working thigh parallel to the floor.
Pull in your abs
Lift your head and upper torso by contracting the muscles under your shoulder blades 
Tilt your working hip about two inches higher than your other hip 
Square your shoulders. Feel your waist and posture muscles engage
Keep your working knee at hip-height 
Lift your upper torso anywhere from hip height to a foot higher than your hips 
Press your shoulders down, feel your posture muscles engage 
Point your elbows down 
Use your glute to draw your working leg as high as you can and lock it firmly into place behind you


From here lift your left leg up in a one-inch range of motion and repeat 


Pretzel with the ball variation 1: The ball being held out challenges you to maintain an upright spine, working your obliques and upper back as well as your seat. 


This is a seat exercise and unlike its food namesake is a waist-widdler. 

What it works: Targets the side of your seat, upper back, abdominals, hamstrings and obliques. 

Set up

Place your left leg in front of you and bend your knee to 90 degrees
Shift your weight onto your left hip, sweep your working leg behind you and bend your back knee in half. 
Place your left hand on the floor next to and in line with your left knee with your fingers pointed forward
Reach your right hand back, take your foot, and raise it a few inches off the floor so that it’s higher than your knee
Slide your right knee back until it is in line with your hip, or 1–2 inches behind it 
Let go of your foot and hold it off the floor, place your right hand on your front shin 
Press your shoulders back and down. Bend slightly forward at your waist, lift your chest 


Press your working leg back or up in a one-inch range of motion, grip into your glutes and make the movement come from there 
Then switch and set up on the other side 

Pretzel with the ball variation 2: The ball behind the leg adds extra challenge for your hamstrings and glutes, keeping them engaged as you grip your glutes and squeeze in on the ball.



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