The chair pose why we love to hate it.
Chair pose sculpts and tones the quadriceps, creates that barre “burn” and works the thighs like no other move. Most barre enthusiasts love it even though it is challenging. Thankfully, it is quick and typically in class to only spend 1-2 minutes in chair. Chair pose in barre can feel very intense and fatigues muscles quickly. Completing just two minutes in chair can feel like a huge accomplishment. It is a vigorous exercise, so it is important to be patient as you build up to staying in the position for the full two minutes .
The primary muscles worked in chair position are the quadriceps “quads” (a group of four muscles located in the front of the thigh). The quadriceps muscles are the only extensors of the knees joint. Quads play a key role in every movement involving the stretching of the knee joint (e.g. walking, running, climbing stairs, rising from a seated position). The quadriceps muscles are one of the largest muscles groups in the body, and are therefore one of the biggest calorie burners. Building long, lean muscles mass in these large muscles boost caloric burn creating a more toned and sculpted body.
The thigh work section in barre classes is designed to strengthen and sculpt the inner and outer thighs, slim and smooth the thigh muscles and define the hamstrings to create that sought-after look of the long/lean dancer’s legs. Isolating the thigh muscles in chair is what creates the sensation of “the burn”. The more we keep the muscles contracted (with no release) the harder the muscles are working and the more demand the muscles need for energy. This intense thigh work taps into the body’s lactic acid system and sends the muscles into a process called acidosis. The increased acidity is what causes the burn and even though the feeling may hurt, it is not hurting you as long as you are using proper form and are not pushing past your own limits.
Tips for proper alignment and getting the most out of chair in parallel:
Feet are hips width distance and parallel
Hands are firmly holding on the barre shoulder width apart
Arms are full extended
Knees are in line with the hips
Knees over ankles
Shoulders are over the hips
Shoulders blades draw towards each other and down the back to elongate the spine
Seat stays below the shoulders (avoid letting it stick out)
Feel the movement/the effort coming from the quadriceps
Focus on breathing especially as intensity builds
Engage the core muscles to support the lower back