Barlates: Upper Body Light & Heavy

Upper Body Light & Heavy is a collection of 4 upper body workouts that are all 30 minutes or less and hit your upper body through different modalities. It is part of Linda Wooldridge’s vast Barlates series workouts. One of these workouts (Pyramid Upper Body) is also available for free on YouTube but the other 3 are only available on DVD. These are all strength workouts that work really well when paired together (IMHO)–use the Pyramid workouts for the “main” workout then use the other two as finishers afterward. However, I didn’t care for Weightless Ballet Arms–but other people may love that workout since it uses no weights. I did love the other 3 workouts tho. Every one of these workouts completely burned out whatever muscle it was focusing on.

Pyramid Upper Body is 31 minutes long; 1 minute intro, no warm up and 2 minute stretch. Equipment needed: at least 3 sets of dumbbells (Linda uses 3, 5 and 8 pound dumbbells), a stability ball and something firm to press the ball against–like a wall. You will be doing 5 exercises for each muscle group except your back–you will do 8 back exercises but the last 3 are unweighted exercises on the ball. Each exercise is done for 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest.

This is the only workout on this DVD that is also available free on YouTube, so here is the review I did for this workout already. I will not rehash everything here–for more thoughts just click on the link and check out the full review. In short–excellent and super tough workout!

Shoulders:

  1. Side lateral raises (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  2. Bent arm side lateral raise into overhead press at a 45 degree angle (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 7# DBs)
  3. Bent arm side lateral raise (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  4. Overhead press @ 45 degrees (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 7# DBs)
  5. Straight arm side lateral raises, palms facing back wall (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)

Biceps:

  1. Sitting on floor, back against ball and ball against wall, hold arms straight in front of you then bend elbows bringing DBs in close to chest/ribs (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  2. Seated hammer curls (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 8# DBs)
  3. Seated traditional bicep curls (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  4. Seated alternating hammer curls, twisting DB at top (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  5. Arms straight ahead, bend elbow bringing DB toward shoulder; alternate arms (still seated) (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)

Triceps:

  1. Overhead pulsing tricep extensions while sitting on ball (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  2. Full overhead tricep extensions while sitting on ball (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 8# DBs)
  3. Cross tricep extensions still sitting on ball (arms overhead, bring DB down in front of face toward shoulder); alternate arms (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 10# DBs)
  4. Repeat #2 but w/ a tempo change (down to 1 count, up to 3 count) (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 8# DBs)
  5. Repeat #1 but alternate arms (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)

Chest:

  1. Seated chest flys (sitting w/ back against ball and ball against wall, bring DBs from the ground at sides of body to together in front of chest) (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  2. Cross presses (still sitting, arms bent–start w/ elbows against ball then press forward, crossing arms in front of chest (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 7# DBs)
  3. Incline chest press (incline torso against ball and press DBs in front/overhead) (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  4. Incline chest fly (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 7# DBs)
  5. Alternating incline chest press (same as #3 except alternating arms fast) (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 8# DBs)

Back:

  1. Bent rear delt flys (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  2. Alternating rear delt flys (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 7# DBs)
  3. Alternating bent arm rear delt fly (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  4. Straight arm rear delt flys w/ palms facing in front of you (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  5. Double arm row but at top of row, open arms into rear delt fly (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  6. Back extensions w/ belly on ball (no DBs)
  7. Leg extensions w/ hips on ball and hands on floor (no DBs)
  8. Alternating arm/leg raises w/ bell on ball (lift opposite arm/leg) (no DBs)

Reverse Pyramid is 32 minutes long; 2 minute intro, no warm up, and 2 minute stretch (it says it is 33 minutes long but the last minute is credits and black screen). Each exercise is done for 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. Equipment: stability ball and various weights. Linda has 3, 5, 8 and 10 pound dumbbells. This workout is based on pyramid strength training principal but unlike her Pyramid Upper Body workout this one starts with heavy weights, drops to medium weights then to light, then goes back up the pyramid to medium and ends with heavy. So you do a 5 exercise circuit for each muscle group. This one has a little bonus at the end like Pyramid Upper Body except this bonus hits the chest and triceps (push ups). Here is a video clip.

Another great endurance level strength workout. I didn’t like this one as much as Pyramid Upper Body. It definitely fried my upper body but I think, after doing Pyramid Upper Body, I came to this one more conservatively and so I didn’t struggle and have to drop to lighter weights during a set like I did in Pyramid Upper Body. So it didn’t seem as brutal but it was still very challenging and burned out whatever muscle group that was being worked. They are both excellent workouts. You could try pairing them together for an hour long upper body workout that completely fries your upper body muscles. I might try that. This morning I finished this workout off with Enlongated Arms (see below) and that did a good job completely toasting my upper body.

Shoulders (you are sitting on ball for all exercises):

  1. Wide overhead shoulder press (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 10# DBs)
  2. Narrow overhead shoulder press (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 8# DBs)
  3. Alternate between wide and narrow shoulder press(Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  4. Alternating narrow overhead shoulder press (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 8# DBs)
  5. Alternating wide overhead shoulder press (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 8# DBs)

Biceps (you are sitting on ball for all exercises):

  1. Traditional Bicep curls (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  2. Hammer curls (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 10# DBs)
  3. Wide pulsing curls with arms raised further out in front of body (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  4. Alternating hammer curls (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 10# DBs)
  5. Alternating traditional bicep curls pushing DBs out to side at top of curl (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)

Triceps:

  1. Bent over tricep kickbacks (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 10# DBs)
  2. Straight arm push backs w/ palms facing ceiling (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 8# DBs)
  3. Bent over alternating tricep kickbacks (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  4. Straight arm push backs w/ palms facing sides (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 8# DBs)
  5. Bent over alternating tricep kickbacks (Linda uses 8# DBs,I used 10# DBs)

Chest (you are laying back on ball for all exercises):

  1. Chest flys (Linda uses 10# DBs, I used 15# DBs)
  2. One arm alternating chest flys (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  3. Pulsing chest flys (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 10# DBs)
  4. Tempo chest flys (3 counts down, one count up) (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  5. Tempo chest flys (1 count down, 3 counts up) (Linda uses 10# DBs, I used 15# DBs)

Back:

  1. Narrow bent over back rows (Linda uses 10# DBs, I used 15# DBs)
  2. Wide bent over back rows (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  3. Alternate narrow and wide bent over back rows (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 10# DBs)
  4. Alternating narrow bent over back rows (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  5. Alternating wide bent over back rows (Linda uses 10# DBs, I used 15# DBs)

Push ups:

  1. Regular push ups on toes
  2. Tricep push ups on knees
  3. Release push ups (when you release, you are on your stomach and you raise both your hands and your legs)

Enlongated Upper Body is 26 minutes long; 30 second intro, 3:30 minute warm up, one minute of instruction after warm up and 1 minute stretch. Equipment: one set of light dumbbells, Linda uses 2 pound dumbbells, and a stability ball. I used 3 pound dumbbells for everything. Here is a video clip. The stability is used only for balance purposes, so one foot is on it for #1-5. #6 doesn’t use the ball. If you are not interested in the balance aspect (it does make the workout harder) then just skip using the ball. Even if you have balance issues like me you can make the ball work for you by anchoring it on something. It will not challenge your balance as much as it would with the ball free to roll around, but it will still challenge you more than using nothing at all. I did it with the ball anchored.

You wouldn’t think 3 pound dumbbells would completely fry your muscles but they do. I used this workout to finish off Reverse Pyramid–which fried my upper body on its own, but this workout did a great job as a finisher. The exercises/sets in this workout are not timed. You are pretty much working non-stop with just very brief rests between the exercise groupings. So you arms are seriously burning.

  1. Front straight raises w/ palms facing each other and one leg on ball behind you; changes to holding straight arms directly in front of you at shoulder height then raise them overhead; changes to lowering and raising from shoulder height to thighs; changes to holding them at shoulder height and pulsing
  2. Side raises (raise arms from thighs to higher than shoulder level, thumbs facing down), other leg on ball behind you; hold arms out to sides in a “T” w/ small raise and lowers (not pulses because you are doing it at a controlled pace); changes to raising from thighs to “T” position; changes to pulse w/ arms out to side in “T'”
  3. Rear delt flys w/ one leg on ball and torso hinged forward, ball is now beside you and the leg on it is straight (pinky side of hand is raising to ceiling); keep arms raised to side and lower halfway and raise; lower all the way and only raise/fly halfway up; pulse arms up at top of fly
  4. Move ball to other leg (but leg on it the same way as #9), and raise and lower straight arms in front of you but on a diagonal; raise arms from shoulder height to higher than shoulder height; raise from thigh level to shoulder level; pulse arms at shoulder level
  5. One foot on ball behind you again, hinge torso forward, raise and lower straight arms behind you; changes to raising high behind you and lowering halfway; changes to down and halfway up; changes to pulsing high
  6. Other foot is on ball behind you, scoop slightly bent arms/DBs up and down; pulse at shoulder level; scoop up and down–same move but arms are open wider; changes to pulses at shoulder level; alternating scooping front then to side
  7. (No ball) Side raise bringing DBs in front of body for 2 reps then bringing DBs behind body for 2 reps (palms facing back of room for all reps); changes to alternating front raises (full range of motion for raises, bringing DB behind you at bottom of raise and overhead at top of raise); changes to pulsing 2x each time you alternate arms; changed to alternating side raises

Weightless Ballet Arms is 23 minutes long w/ 1 minute stretch; no equipment needed. Here is a video clip.  #1-3 below are actually a warm up. This was my least favorite of the 4 workouts. It was effective. It really burned my arms and shoulders out big time. But I’m not sure I want to isolate just my arms that much. I would rather isolate muscle groups like my back or glutes. It really was kind of boring, too, and Linda’s workouts rarely bore me. So, of the 4 workouts, I probably won’t bother with this one again.

  1. Heels together, toes turned out, arms held in a ballet position in front of body–raise and lower arms while tapping toes out to side while doing a small plie squat; start lifting leg to side while going deeper into plie squat
  2. Wide plie squats w/ swan arms to side (flow arms up and down); continue the plie squats while still doing the swan arms but this time lean to side while sweeping arms overhead
  3. Sweeping arms side to side while tapping legs side to side
  4. Tricep dips while on toes (so crab but up on toes) (you will do 3 sets, each w/ different hand positions)
  5. Swan arms while sitting (arms flowing like wings flying gracefully)
  6. Push the arms behind you in a flowing motion (tricep pushes); changes to rotating push back (still pushing behind you)
  7. Swan arms again but this time you keep arms up high and only bring them down to shoulder level
  8. Bring hands together in front of chest and squeeze and press palms together; changes to still squeezing palms together while pushing hands in front of you then pulling hands back to chest
  9. Repeat #6 but on one arm
  10. Repeat #8

3 responses to “Barlates: Upper Body Light & Heavy

  1. Pingback: Barlates: Pyramid Upper Body | 2 Lazy 4 the Gym·

    • Yes, definitely! But not until November or December. I have been following Cathe’s Live posts and making a list of the new ones I want to try when I sign up again.

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