Raising the Bar

Margaret Richard
Year Released: 2000

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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This is a very good workout using the body bar. The setting is taken from the Body Bar videos and one of the background exercisers is Clare Dunphy. I enjoyed the video a great deal, probably because I like Margaret so much. She looks great and seems like a fun person. Her personality is natural and somewhat chatty, but not to the same degree as Charlene Prickett.

The workout was quite challenging for the most part. My arms got a great workout, especially while lying on the step and performing chest work and triceps work with the bar. She has a signature counting method of 2 down, 1 up (or visa versa) - which is off of the traditional 32-count mode of most sculpting/aerobic workouts. For some reason, it works and does not bother me. Margaret's cuing is much better in this video, but she still occasionally begins a new exercise without advance notice so you wind up missing one rep.

I did not like two of her exercises. She uses a chair for support and rests the bar on the outer side of the foot while you perform abductor/thigh lifts. This felt awkward and uncomfortable and I would prefer doing them on the floor (she does make this suggestion). She also performs a series of exercises while on her knees where she takes the body back in a slant and upright again. I remember this being a contraindicated move when I was first learning how to teach body sculpting and aerobics. This was a move you were never to do because of the pressure on your back and the force it puts on varicose veins. Since the inception of the Pilates and Yoga movements though, I find myself doing many exercises that used to be termed inappropriate (straight legs, full circle neck rolls, full sit-ups - or rollups in Pilates etc.)

Another Vfer and I discussed this and she said she would do lunges during this portion of the workout and I concurred (thanks Helen!).

I would recommend this as an excellent addition to the Body Bar series of workouts, as it covers the whole body and ends with a pleasant stretch. If you have not discovered Margaret Richard yet, this is a good video to begin with.

Janet O'Neil


Margaret's Raising The Bar was produced by Greg Twombly so it is a typical CIA production. I ended up buying the Upper Body Sculpture too and the production of RTB is a lot better than that one. It also seems more modern (or newer). There's no background exercisers in UBS either.

But RTB has Clare Dunphy and Tonya (who's a background exerciser for lots of the bodybar tapes & Plyo videos) as background exercisers. The plyo videos are also executive produced by Sherry Catlin just like the bodybar videos. The background is the same as the one used in Christi Taylor's Happy Hour Hi/Lo and Stepping Zone. So it's not the dreaded red backgrounds.

The last cool-down song in RTB is an instrumental version of a love song in Phantom Of The Opera. It sounds so pretty. The other songs are also instrumental type music. I recall hearing Evita.

Here's the order of the program in RTB: warm-up, pectorals, triceps, biceps, deltoids, back, calves, outer thighs, inner thighs, hamstrings/quads, quads, gluteals, abs, and cool-down.

I remember most of the exercises but not all of them. This video is like a body pump video because you do lots of reps of each exercise but there's not lots of variety. Like other bodypump type videos, I end up using a barbell and two sizes of bodybars. I feel that I get a tougher workout than just using one size bodybar. I do this with Keli's bodybar videos too. Margaret has some unique exercises in this video. Here's the ones I remember:

Chest - bodybar presses (similar to barbell presses) in different counts so that it makes it more interesting than doing lots of reps. I used a barbell and next time, I'm going to use a step underneath so that my elbows don't hit the floor. All other exercises also use different rep counts. There's also some pulsing in some of them.

Triceps - lying bodybar tricep extensions, then you do the same movement but only lifting one arm at a time

Biceps - two-arm bicep curls but you hold the bar vertically (I think this mimics hammer curls), one-arm bicep curl still holding the bar vertically. Holding the bar vertically is sure tougher than doing the move horizontally.

Shoulders - shoulder presses, she also does this where you lift one arm up at a time so that your bar is diagonal and it ends up being alternating presses, front bodybar raises with one grip overhand and the other grip as underhand, front raises with both palms facing down

Back - bent-over rows with overhand grip then underhand grip

Calves - calf raises

Outer Thighs - standing outer thigh raises with bodybar on leg for extra resistance. This exercise is killer. My supporting leg worked just as hard as my working leg. Even Clare Dunphy needed to rest during this exercise. Margaret said you can do the lifts on the floor. So I did that the next time and it worked a lot better.

Inner Thighs - Moving plie squats. The first time I did this video, I thought she was going to do standing inner thigh lifts. For sure, I was going to go on the floor if she did that. But she did moving plie squats for inner thighs instead. This is similar to what Cathe does in Pure Strength Legs where she warms us up with plie squats using the bodybar. Remember she did moving plie squats with the bodybar instead of stationary plies.

Hamstrings/Quads - one-legged squats, regular squats. Margaret doesn't use the bodybar for squats & one-legged squats. She holds it for balance. I put the barbell over my shoulders to work my legs more.

Quads - You're on your knees and you lean back keeping your back straight (yoga position). I didn't really feel the work on my quads. I think I was doing the exercise wrong. So another time, I did lunges instead of the exercise she does for quads. But then I didn't know when to change legs and I didn't want to count reps. Next time, I'll just do deadlifts since I need more work on my hamstrings than quads. The squats work the quads anyway.

Butt - lying bridge work with one foot over other leg and body bar on foot while other end of bodybar near shoulder

Abs - For the abs, you also use the bodybar. It's almost vertical with one end touching the ground and your arms are holding the other end. You do crunches.

I give this video a thumbs up as a substitute for bodypump type videos.

Instructor Comments:
Margaret is either in her 40's or 50's. I'm not sure. But she's in great shape. She gives plenty of form pointers. She usually does videos that has lots of reps. She also has a dry sense of humor. I would buy more of her videos if they weren't so expensive.

Helen Stephens


I am in the minority again in not liking a popular video. This is my first body bar video and I like using the body bar a lot. (Which is good because I just bought four of them!) And I have other Margaret Richard videos that I like a lot. But this one did not appeal to me very much.

My gripes:

- The price. (ok, now that THAT is out of the way!)

- The Warm-up: Graceful, dancy and practically useless.
I am not now or ever have been a ballerina. Let me just do
a nice athletic warm-up that actually warms me up. I
usually do my own warm-ups with her videos.

- Upper body: Uninspired.

- Lower Body: I disliked pretty much all the lower body stuff. I hate the inner thigh side-step foot-dragging thing. The standing outer thigh lifts with the bar stress the supporting leg so much that it is half dead when it is time to change. The kneeling quad work looked like a recipe for knee pain. I did wall sits.

- Abs: Not much instruction about exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

- Cool down/Stretch: There is little stretching during the video and the end is more ballerina stuff. I did a stretch tape.

Instructor Comments:
Margaret does lot of yammering about nothing. I wish she would have spent more time giving better instructions instead of bagging on Clare Dunphy. Sure, Charlene Prickett talks a lot, but it is usually about the exercise or fitness.