Peruse your local gym, Pilates studio, or even YouTube, and you’ll see a plethora of barre classes offered, and with good reason. These uber-popular classes combine Pilates, yoga, and ballet-inspired moves for an effective strength workout that gives you the lean, long muscles of a graceful ballerina. Though barre can be fun to do in a studio, it’s also a great at-home workout, so we’ve rounded up our favorite barre-inspired moves to help you strengthen and tone from the comfort of your living room. Read on for instructions on each move and the repetitions necessary to get you that ballerina body.
So much of ballet focuses on a keen sense of balance in the body, and an important way to improve balance in the body is through core work. After all, dancing on your toes requires some serious ab strength!
Advanced Russian Twist
This is a great move that works the obliques and lower abs, and because you’re balancing on your tailbone, it’s also a great move for cultivating balance. Sit down on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat, then lean back so that your feet come off the ground. Raise them so that your shins are parallel to the floor. Clasp your hands together in front of your chest, then twist your torso to the right and extend your hands until they reach the floor. Repeat on the other side, and continue for 2 sets of 12 reps. One repetition is a twist to both the right and left.
Another great move for working on both your core strength and your balance, this move will make you feel insanely graceful. Start out on your hands and knees, then lift your right arm and left leg so that they’re parallel with the ground. Hold for five seconds, then switch to the other side. If you’re feeling a bit wobbly, make sure to keep your gaze trained down in front of you on the ground. Do this move 6 times total.
Come into your high plank with the shoulders over the hands and the body long and straight through the heels. You can spread your feet a little wider, to about hip-width, since you will be moving. Pull the belly button into the spine and let the shoulders pull away from you. Bring one foot up to the outside of your hand.
This range of motion will depend on your flexibility, so try to get it as close as possible. Let the hips sink down so you feel a stretch. Return the foot to the first plank position, then repeat the step on the other side. Try to keep a steady tension in the core — avoid piking or dipping the hips as your transition from leg to leg. Repeat on opposite side, that is one rep. Continue for 2 sets of 12 reps.
Downward Dog Pushup
Begin in pushup position and push your hips back so your torso is nearly vertical. Your hands, arms, and head should be in a straight line. This is pike position. Lower your body until your head nearly touches the floor between your hands and then press back up. That is one rep. Continue for 12 reps.
Barre workouts focus on small pulses in order to target specific muscle groups. Tricep dips are a great move to pulse through; the pulses really fire up the muscles and leave you feeling tighter and more toned after just one workout! To do a tricep dip, start sitting down with your knees bent, feet flat and hands on the ground directly below your shoulders. Lift your butt slightly off the floor with arms still straight, then bend your elbows as you lower your butt until it’s hovering just above the floor. Repeat this move 10 times, then stay with butt lowered and pulse for 10.
While you might not immediately think of yoga as a great arm-strengthener, in fact, practicing yoga is a great way to work on the whole upper body. Poses like downward dog, plank and chaturanga work the shoulders, pectorals, triceps and biceps. Yoga pushups are a triple threat, working the chest, triceps, and core. To do a yoga pushup, start in a downward dog and slowly shift into plank, with your hips still slightly lifted, then press down so your torso is titled toward the floor and your chin grazes the ground. Push yourself back up into downward dog, and repeat 10 times.
Lying Double Leg Lift
The pilates influence in barre means that many of lower body moves involve leg lifts, which are an excellent way to target the inner and outer thighs. Lying double leg lifts also sneak a bit of core activation into the mix, because can you ever really do enough core work? Want to kick it up a notch? Place a squishy ball between your ankles and squeeze as you lift to hit those inner thighs as well!
To do a lying double left lift, lie down on your right side with your legs stacked on top of each other and your right arm extended out, palm faced down. Lift your top leg about a foot off the ground and keep it there. Then, lift your bottom leg to meet your top leg. Continue doing this for 10 reps, then switch to your left side and repeat.
Standing Inner Thigh Squeeze
This lower body move engages both the inner thigh and your glute muscles—really squeeze on your squishy ball to get the maximum benefit from this move.
Stand tall with the feet under the hips and place the ball between the thighs, above the knees. Slightly bend the knees and dip down. Place your hands on your hips or wherever is comfortable. Maintaining your dip, squeeze the inner thighs together. Try to flatten the ball! Hold here, then release without straightening the legs. Perform this move slow and controlled for 20 squeezes and then 20 quick pulses.
Leg Lift Tap
Another great Pilates move, this one works those all-important glutes as well as the inner thighs. To start, lie down on your right side with your right arm extended, palm faced down and legs stacked on top of each other. Lift your top leg about two feet off the ground, then bring it down in front of you and touch your toe to the floor, then bring the leg back up high. Repeat 10 times, then switch to the other side.
Do this routine twice a week, and you’ll be feeling longer, leaner, and more toned in no time.