With roots in ballet, yoga, and Pilates, barre exercises are exploding in popularity across North America. Through controlled, precise movements, these workouts promise a strong core and long, lean muscles.
What are the workouts like?
If you’ve never taken a dance class, don’t worry—this is a conditioning workout, not a choreographed one.
The exercises include small, controlled movements called “pulses” that work into the supporting or stabilizing muscles of the body, thereby challenging balance, elevating the heart rate, and delivering increased muscular strength.
Barre basics workout
Here is a basic barre workout you can do at home. You’ll need a sturdy chair or kitchen countertop in place of a traditional ballet barre.
Remember to keep your barre posture engaged (ears, shoulders, and hips aligned with the spine long and the core engaged). Do this workout three times per week and work your way up to five times per week.
- Stand facing a countertop or back of a sturdy chair with your heels together and toes apart (ballet’s first position). Place your hands on the countertop or chair for support and balance.
- Lift heels 3 in (7.5 cm) off the floor and keep them firmly together as you lower your body a few inches toward the heels, bending at the knees. Repeat 16 times.
- Pulse when you’re at the lowest part of your plié, by lowering 1 in (2.5 cm) and raising 1 in (2.5 cm). Keep the quads engaged and knees bent, tracking over the center of the feet. Repeat pulse 32 times.
Reps: Repeat 3 times.
Standing Barre Glute Work
Works: glutes and hamstrings
- Stand facing a countertop or chair back, in barre posture—ears, shoulder, hips, and knees aligned, feet hip-distance apart in parallel, pulling the navel in toward the spine. Resting your hands on the countertop or chair back, lean forward slightly so your weight is on the balls of your feet, keeping your alignment straight.
- Extend your right leg behind you, keeping the toe pointed and on the floor, and the leg straight.
- Squeeze your glute muscle and lift the toe off the floor 1 in (2.5 cm) and lower 16 times, followed by 32 pulses with your foot in the air behind you.
Reps: Repeat 3 times. Switch legs.
- Begin seated on the floor with feet flat, knees pointing toward the sky. Sit tall on the sit bones and reach arms straight out in front of the body.
- Exhale as you tuck the tailbone and curl the spine forward halfway to the floor (creating a C-curve with the body).
- Engage the core and pull the navel to the spine. Hold.
- Open the right arm in line with your right shoulder as you gently twist to the right from the center of the body.
- Return to center. Repeat 16 times.
- Hold, and then pulse 32 times on the right.
Reps: Repeat sequence to the left.