Body Bar: Challenge

Keli Roberts
Year Released: 1999

Categories: Body Bar , Total Body Workouts

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I've done this video only once, but I know several of you have been waiting for the review. I broke it down a bit, but not completely - so there are more exercises than I will describe. Also, my memory's not so great and I didn't take very good notes - but you'll get the gist of the workout.

As compared to Keli's other BB workout, no step is used and there are two more background exercisers besides Sherry and Alain. They use an 18# and I think a 9# body bar, but don't run out and buy two body bars or even one - if you don't have any.

After a warm-up and stretch to Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition', she begins with back shoulders and biceps using the heavier bar. Unlike the first BB video where you do a couple of sets and then partials, this is more combos. For example, first you do a set of bent-over rows, then a set of upright rows; then do them in a combo. Then you do one-handed bicep curls with the heavy bar and then with the light bar (I used dumbells-too hard to balance that long bar); then a combination of all of that. I kept recognizing songs or parts of songs from the warm-ups of Cathe's PS videos.

Then you do some clean and presses with the heavy bar, then shoulder presses, then a tough-to-coordinate combo of these two with a squat thrown in.

Now one-armed rows and bicep curls using heavy and light. I used dumbells. Then anterior and side delt lifts using the light bar (I used dumbells and worked both sides at the same time.) Then a nice stretch.

On to lower body. Front squats using the heavy bar; then squats with the bar in back of the neck. Then some step squats side to side. Now for a unique lunge to the side and back to center with a knee up. Oooh - those inner thighs! Then a combo of squats and lunges.

Here's something new - lay the bar on the floor vertically, do a squat on one side of it, then plyo to the other side and do another squat. You do 3 pulses then jump over a few times, then do singles. Tough.

Now you stand and place one end of the light bar one heel. Do straight leg lifts back, then hamstrings. Now some front lunges with the heavy bar, put the bar down and do pulsing lunges with a plyo jump and repeat. Then, of course, all of this on the other side before a good stretch.

Now chest-shoulders-triceps. Push-ups on the floor, but fashioned after those in the first video. Up, knees down, up, legs straight. (I made a note here that I can't read.) Now on your back, doing chest pullovers and skull crushers singly then in combo with the heavy bar. Tricep presses, chest presses, tricep push-ups - all very slow. Stretch.

More lower body. Lay on your side and lift from the waist up for your obliques. Then another unique oblique move. Then side leg lifts and inner thighs with the light bar (I used heavy). Then these flutter kick things where you lift your outer leg and then sort of scissor both legs together, while laying on your side. Other side; then stretch.

No more abs. A very slow and relaxing stretch using music like the PS cool downs.

Again, no need to run out and buy body bars for this. I liked the workout, but always feel like I'm not quite doing enough unless I'm lifting heavier weights. We'll see hw I feel tomorrow!

Instructor Comments:
Keli is very happy, friendly and talkative. She comments about how tough the workout is for her, although I don't believe it!

Joni O


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


I was a bit disappointed with this tape; I expected it to be tougher than Keli's Body Bar Workout tape but it was not. It was an average total body weight training tape, and it had some flaws.

First, there are some exercises for the obliques done lying on your side, but there are no other exercises for the abs. Second, the music is the same generally boring music that I've heard on other Body Bar tapes. Third, there are too few reps of everything.

There are squats and lunges for the lower body, which include some plyometrics. For the upper body, there are some bent over rows; Keli uses the Body Bar, but I find this awkward, so I substitute a dumbbell. Same goes for bent-over and standing lateral raises---I substituted a dumbbell for the Body Bar. There are some cleans followed by clean and presses, some upright rows, pushups, lying triceps presses and bench presses. There is also some floor work for inner and outer thighs using the Bar. I liked the standing rear leg lifts and hamstring curls using the Bar over the foot.

The best part of this tape was the stretch. The music for this section was nice and relaxing and I like Keli's voice. The stretch section was long, and concentrated on the lower body. There were some upper body stretches as well, where you are on your hands and knees and reach your arm forward and sit back to stretch. I didn't care for these.

Overall, I would give this tape a B.

Keli is a very good instructor, but this is not her best tape. I like her personality, which is warm and caring and down-to-earth. I also like her voice and her accent. I've seen Keli look in better shape than in this video, and she seemed to be working very hard on several of the exercises, including the push-ups. That bothered me because I don't like to see the instructor struggling.



This video has been well described and exercises broken down by previous reviewers, so I'll just give my evaluation of it. I like the fact that 2 body bars are used (conveniently I have 9 lb. and 15 lb. bars) I find most of my muscle groups are pushed to near fatigue, with the notable exception of abs. Obliques are worked quite well, but as other reviewers noted there's not much for the rectus abdominus, just some stabilization work. The stretch segment at the end is one of the best I've seen at the end of a video, 11 minutes long and very thorough. I find this workout somewhat more challenging than Keli's New Body Bar Workout, but I think I'd say it's that it's not much harder, it's just different.

Most of this workout can be done with equipment other than body bars, but I honestly feel that it wouldn't be the same. I enjoy the feel of the body bar, and the versatility (using wide/narrow grip, using with 2 hands or 1 (or 1 with the other as a stabilizer). I find these variations make it possible to get the right resistance for almost all the body parts I'm working using just these 2 bars. I do use dumbbells for the posterior and medial deltoids, but otherwise just the body bars.

Keli is a great instructor, very down-to-earth and motivating. I have several of her other tapes and in all of them the hour seems to go by really quickly and enjoyably. She emphasizes control in all her work, there isn't much that's fast or fancy, and I find that this works best for me, keeping my heart rate up on the step and working my muscles thoroughly in strength training.

Randy Pollack


This workout progresses so smoothly that you're finished before you know it. I use a 15-lb bar and a 30-lb bar for the lower body segment. I use an 8 or 10lb dumbbell for some of the exercises where I can't maneuver the body bar properly. I love the warm up, but the cool down could use a bit more leg stretches. I especially love the side leg lifts-the body bar makes this old exercise brand new again.

Diana Chen


Body Bar Challenge is a 60 minute strength training workout led by Keli Roberts. Keli uses an 18 pound bar for her "heavy" bar, and I can't tell what poundage she's using as her "light" bar. You will need two. I am an intermediate/advanced exerciser and I used a 12 pound to 18 pound for my heavy one (18 pound for leg work, 15 and 12 for upper body work), and a 9 pound one for my light bar. They worked fine for me. A barbell and/or dumbbells can be substituted in places.

The set is a light green I haven't yet seen in other Body Bar workouts, and the music was better than in other Body Bar workouts. All instrumental and a blend of 1970's top 40 hits, in addition to familiar tunes you've probably heard in other workouts.

Keli is joined by Lashaun Dale, as well as Tonya, Carey, and Maryann whose last names I don't know, but who are in other Body Bar workouts. The names are not listed in the credits. All the background exercisers are holding various weighted bars, and none show modifications, although Keli does say to "modify when needed" at several times during the workout.

The workout starts with a 7 to 8 minute warm-up, which is very good. The back, biceps and shoulders section is about 13 minutes in length, and includes one-armed rows and biceps curls. It's thorough and effective. The next section is about 15 minutes long and consists of traditional squats, squats to the side, and plyo moves without the bar. The only problem I can see with this is working on carpeting versus the wood floor they are using in the workout. You may have to modify if the jumping from side to side is not comfortable, or you're not at a level yet where you can lift high enough to do this without catching your foot and risking injury. I used my 18 pound bar here although in the future I will use my weighted barbell for this section, as 18 pounds for squats is "light" for me. They aren't done fast, so you can go heavy. The plyo work is done without holding the body bar.

For the next section I also used an 18 pound bar, and again could have gone heavier. It's about 8 minutes long and consists of static lunges done in three pulses. The power segment is the same move only you jump on count four. Again, be careful with this one if you have knee issues or have any reservations about jumping. I had no issues with this one because they don't do very many, and I simply kept my legs closer in the lunge stance than I normally would had we simply been doing static lunges without jumps. The two sections are separated so you have time to put down the bar and adjust your legs first.

Then we move to the floor for chest, triceps, and oblique work. She starts with a decent amount of push-ups, done with variations to work different areas of the chest and triceps. We then pick up the lighter bar (I used a 9 pound and could have gone a bit heavier) and lie on our sides to do first oblique work, then inner and outer thigh work. If you have any reservations about doing oblique work with weights, there is time after that section to place the bar on your foot for inner and outer thigh work. This was a fun and surprisingly challenging section! She packs a lot into about 8 minutes!

The stretch is very thorough, and is about 13 minutes long! Overall, I'd give this workout a solid B. I can't say I'd use it for serious strength training, but for a nice well-rounded "lighter weight/higher rep" workout, it's perfect. I wish there had been more traditional ab work, but you could skip the stretch and pop in a 10 or 15 minute ab tape, then either return to the stretch or do your own. Or, if you have more than an hour, you could easily tack on an ab workout at the end.

Instructor Comments:
Keli Roberts cues well in this and gives form pointers throughout.