You don’t have to be a ballerina to reap the benefits of a barre workout. It can help build strength and flexibility, no matter your experience. Barre exercises use a combination of isometric holds, pulsing movements and sweeping stretches.
“If you’re brand new to working out, this is a good workout for you. It’s going to be tough. You’re going to be sore. You’re going to expect to burn,” DICK’S Sporting Goods barre instructor Judy Elias says. “There’s a lot of repetition, but go at your own pace.”
No barre? No problem. Grab a chair with a seatback that is approximately hip height for this barre workout at home.
“Barre is really a workout that you can do anytime, anywhere,” Elias says. “Every ounce of your lower body is going to work.”
A FEW BARRE TIPS BEFORE BEGINNING
Proper form is crucial when performing barre exercises. Throughout each of these movements, you’ll practice “the tuck,” which is a barre term for scooping your pelvis forward to flatten your lower back. This is intended to help remove any sort of stress or strain from the lumbar region. Keep your core muscles engaged and maintain a straight spine.
Barre is typically practiced in a mirrored studio, which helps students practice body awareness and maintain proper form, Elias says. If you’re able to do so with a mirror at home, give it a try.
To maintain control and get the most out of these exercises, start with slower, bigger movements. You can then build up to smaller, faster movements. Barre is “not a cardio class. It’s a true sculpt class,” Elias says.
Finally, wear a comfortable outfit that allows you to move and stretch. You can practice in bare feet or grippy socks. If you have any foot issues, try practicing in shoes, Elias adds.
BARRE WORKOUT AT HOME
1. STANDING SIDE CRUNCH
- Turn toward the barre and rest your left hand in front of you.
- Begin with your right foot crossed behind your left foot, as if you were about to curtsy.
- Reach your right arm to the ceiling.
- As you inhale, lift your right knee out to the side to hip height. Extend your right arm toward your knee.
- As you exhale, release to the starting position.
- Repeat the side crunch up to 10 times and then switch sides.
Remember: Do what you can. It’s not necessary for your knee and elbow to touch in order to experience the benefits of the pose. To modify this exercise, point and lift your toes to the side, rather than lifting your knee.
2. STANDING HYDRANT KICKBACKS
- Turn toward the barre and rest both hands in front of you.
- Bring your chest and torso about parallel with the floor. Squeeze your core muscles.
- Lift your straightened leg behind you to hip height. Then crunch it forward toward your elbow.
- Return your leg back to a straightened position, then lower it until your toes tap the ground behind you.
- Bring your leg back up to the starting position. Remember to keep your core tight.
- Repeat up to 10 times and then switch sides.
3. FORWARD LEG LIFTS
- Begin with your left hand on the bar.
- Reach your right arm to the ceiling.
- Rise up on your toes and bend your knees slightly. Lift your right leg in the air parallel to the ground.
- Keep your toes pointed as you slowly lower your leg down and tap the ground. Tip: To reduce intensity, try keeping your balance foot flat instead of elevated on your toes.
- Repeat the forward leg lift 10 times and then switch legs.
4. HEEL LIFTS
- Start with your left hand on the bar.
- Reach your right arm straight out to the side or on your hip for balance.
- Rise onto your toes, soften your knees and hover with your heels lifted.
- Set your heels down and lift back up to your toes.
- Continue squeezing your thighs and glutes and tucking your tailbone forward.
- Repeat this barre exercise up to 10 times.
5. SIDE KICKS
- This barre exercise begins with your left hand on the bar.
- Rest your right arm by your side.
- On your exhale, kick your right leg to the side and reach your right arm toward your toes.
- On your inhale, release to the starting position.
- Repeat the side kick up to 10 times.
Remember to do what you can. Work within your fitness level, flexibility and range of motion. You can feel the effects of these barre poses in no time. For more help getting started, discover the barre necessities of any barre workout.