Working at the bar improves health

There is a bar that fitness types can't do without. It's the bar attached to the wall in your exercise room, the one that no one uses anymore. Years ago, the need for a bar on the wall of a fitness room was a necessity. Nowadays people hang their coats on them, and kids use them to swing on.

The real usage for that bar deals with stretching. But there are also hard strengthening moves that can be done at the bar. Start your bar work with a good warm up leg stretch. Lift your heel up on the top of the bar and lean over gently, pressing down. This works the back side of the leg, hamstring and calf areas. Then, while you still have your leg up, bend your knee and slide to the side gently until your pelvis rests against the bar. This stretch works the hip area as well as the inner leg muscles.

Standing facing the bar, go up on your toes. From this position lower slowly to a sitting position, then raise to halfway and hold. This is the point of greatest stress for thigh muscles. You must use the leg muscles, not your arms for lifting your body and holding it. When you can hold at the halfway position for a count of 15, you have achieved advanced status. For a more advanced move, do the same with one leg on the bar and lower to halfway, holding 15 seconds. Now, put your leg up on the bar, still hanging on, and lift your leg off the bar and hold it! Keep your back straight and the legs straight.

Want to work on your abdominal muscles? Lie down on the floor, and hook your toes under the bar. Lift your head off the floor, arms extended, and reach for your toes. Hold for a count of 10. Don't drop the back, lower slowly.

How about that bottom? Stand straight, side against the bar and lift one leg up and backward at an angle until you can feel your bottom muscles and hamstrings working. Then do a flex with the knee and straighten the leg. Work at it for a full minute.

Kneel in front of the bar, facing and hanging on to it and push out with one leg, behind you. Keep your pelvis tucked under and don't incorporate your back in the movement. It is sort of a knee walking movement that goes nowhere.

That's it, I'll expect to see the bar used for something besides coats and water bottles next week.

• Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Senior Center.


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