Body Bar: Challenge

Keli Roberts
Year Released: 1999

Categories: Body Bar , Total Body Workouts

Body Bar Challenge is a 57-minute workout that focuses on muscular endurance. Collage states that, "You'll shape your body with everything from drop sets and supersets to muscle-group pre-fatigue routines...each area is repeatedly worked in a multitude of ways..." and they are right. This workout is more challenging than Keli's original body bar workout. As far as equipment goes, Keli uses two body bars of different weights (she uses an 18 lb. bar and I think a 9 lb. bar), and a mat. The workout is easily modifiable for dumbbells, a barbell, and ankle weights (for one segment); if the description of the workout appeals to you and you don't own a body bar, don't let that dissuade you. The setting is basic CIA. The music is mostly classic rock and pop instrumental with some vocals; you may recognize some of the selections from Cathe Friedrich's Pure Strength series and Trish Muse's Ab Attack, among others.

After the basic warmup, the workout follows this format: standing upper body (shoulders, back and biceps), standing lower body, lying upper body (chest, shoulders and triceps), and lying lower body (obliques, inner and outer thigh). In the first upper body section, Keli alternates between bent over rows for the back and upright rows; she repeats this sequence three times. She then does power cleans, overhead presses, then a clean and press/squat sequence. Then comes the supersets: she does single arm lat rows with the bar, rows leaning forward, and bicep curls, and then she goes right into bicep curls with the lighter bar (hence the pre-fatigue). She then does rear delts and lat raises. This is all with the same arm--then you repeat the entire sequence with the other side. She ends this section with some nice shoulder and back stretches.

The second section is the standing lower body exercises. Keli does squats, side-to-side step out squats, side lunges with knee lifts (like in the Firm Better Body and Buns). Then you lay the bar down on the floor parallel to you and do some side to side plyo squats over the bar, which to me was reminiscent of Gin Miller in Intense Moves. Your heart rate will get up there! You then stagger your feet and hook the bar over your rear leg and do some rear leg extensions and hamstring curls (you could probably use ankle weights here). This was a little awkward, but it really works your balance! Then...static lunges, static lunges with a knee lift. Put your bar down, and now you'll do plyo lunges! Think: power scissors without switching your legs. Not as many as in Interval Max, though, thank goodness! You'll then repeat the entire sequence on the other leg. Again, Keli ends the section with some nice leg stretches.

You can go to the floor now! Next section is upper body, and you'll work the chest and triceps with some secondary work for the shoulders. You'll do pushups (Keli does negatives, where you get into a plank position, lower yourself to the floor, lower your knees to the floor, and push up). Then Keli does traditional pushups, but on the knees. Then, on your back you'll do ribcage pullovers, triceps french presses, close-grip triceps presses, chest presses, and triceps pushups (killer, but effective!). Good upper body stretches end this section.

Last section is lying lower body, first on the left side, and then on the right. Keli does lying side oblique lifts--similar to Level 4 of her Abs & More tape, except you're lifting your upper leg and your torso as well. There's then some outer and inner thigh work with the bodybar as resistance (like Cathe's in PS Legs, but not nearly as many!). Then you remove the bar and do "flutter kicks" where you are on your side lifting your upper leg and keeping it stable. You then raise your lower leg up to meet it (like in Clare Dunphy's Balance, Line and Strength). This also works stability.

Keli ends with a fantastic, thorough, 11-minute final stretch.

I really like this workout. As I mentioned, this is so easily modifiable for use with other equipment. I usually find body bar workouts somewhat limiting, since I like to pyramid my weights and the body bar workouts usually don't lend themselves well to that. However, with this one being easy to modify (I use a barbell and my body bar), I find that I can sufficiently challenge my muscles. It'll definitely work your endurance, with all the pre-fatiguing that Keli does! The one shortcoming is the relative lack of ab work. The only real ab work is the short section for the obliques; however, some of the other moves will work balance and stabilization. I enjoy the structure of the workout (alternating upper and lower body, starting with standing work and going to the floor). Heck, the video's almost worth the price just for Keli's instruction and the final stretch! I really like this one!

Instructor Comments:
Keli Roberts is one of my favorite instructors. She describes exercises very precisely, yet in an unintimidating way. Her form is excellent. She seems to really enjoy teaching, and seems very approachable. She has a good rapport with the background exercisers. I'd love to take a live class with her!

Kristin Aziz