Want Better Legs and a Tighter Butt? Use These Four Barre Exercises

Get better posture and tighter hips, buns and thighs in just a few short sessions.

Beyond Motion Amy Lademan

We all know ballerinas have great legs and leotard-worthy backsides, but do you have to plié all day to get long and lean? Amy Lademann, co-founder of Beyond Motion says no. All you really need is one hour at the barre.

“My clients want to walk out feeling as if they ‘left it all behind’—that in one hour they had an awesome cardio, strength, and core workout that left them feeling longer, stronger, and more flexible,” she says.

According to Lademann, the trick is to challenge and engage as many muscle groups at once with each move. And the benefits go beyond having a butt you can bounce a quarter off of. “Stronger feet, ankles and calves. Better body awareness, balance and control. A sculpted upper body, lifted glutes and a tighter core,” she promises, adding, “You’ll gain greater flexibility in your hips, legs, and spine. Oh and of course, better posture.”

Want all of those things? Click through the slides to get the scoop on these four barre exercises. And don’t worry if you don’t have a barre in your living room, you can do these exercises simply by holding onto the back of a steady chair.

First Position Plié and Relevé

Start by facing your ballet barre (or chair) and place your hands shoulder width apart on it. Squeeze your heels together and turn your feet out, so they make a V shape. Make sure you turn out from your hips, not from your knees, and don’t turn your feet out all the way, which is hard on your knees. Also, be careful that your glutes stay under you, versus shifting behind you. Got all that? Good. This is first position.

Lift your heels off the floor as you press onto the balls of your feet. (Find a heel height that you can maintain the entire time. Keep your legs with your heels together and lifted. This is your relevé. At the top of the position begin bending your knees to plié. (A plié should look like a diamond shape between your legs.) As your knees bend, they should reach out and over your third and fourth toe. Keep your abdominals lifted and your torso upright and elongated, so it looks as if you are sliding up and down a wall. Stretch the legs fully at the top with your heels lifted (relevé). The full motion makes one rep. Begin with 10.

Pelvic Shift “Tic Tock”

Start in your relevé position, and bend your knees to enter a demi plié (only a half-as-deep plié) position. Keeping your abs tight, your tailbone reaching down to the floor, and your posture elongated, shift (don’t tip) your pelvis from left to right. With each hip shift you will lower your body down about an inch, while maintaining good posture. Once you reach the bottom of your plié, you will glide or shift your hips from side to side until you reach your initial starting position. Begin with four sets, each using four counts. Down and up is one set.

Grand Battement

Turn your body so that your right hand is slightly in front of you on your ballet barre. Lift your left arm out to your side, about shoulder height and width with a softly bent elbow.

Start with straight legs in first position. Bring your left leg behind you and brush through the instep of your foot until your leg is off the floor and in front of your body. Make sure to keep your leg straight and torso upright. The leg does not have to lift high. It should seem as if the leg floats effortlessly. Make sure you’re not gripping in your hips, arching your upper back or slouching your lower back. Proper spinal elongation is imperative. Begin with 10 on one side and turn to the other side for 10 more.

Booty Blaster

Facing your barre, place your palms shoulder width apart on it and walk backwards until the base of your fingers are on the barre. Press down on the barre so you engage your core and your arms and elbows are straight. Keeping your chest and hips neutral and a soft bend in your right knee, extend your left leg behind you—past your right leg—with pointed toes. Tap the floor with the top of your left foot, and as you straighten your base leg (right) lift your left leg to bring it back straight behind you so that it is aligned with your left hip.  Make sure to maintain the alignment of your shoulders and hips, so that they are square to the floor.  Begin with 10 on each leg.

Remember to always start with building a strong foundation with your basic moves before adding anything else in. Proper posture, alignment, and form is essential. If you have injuries, there are modifications for each move.

Go to youtube.com and search beyondmotionstudio to do this workout with Amy.

Amy is the co-founder of BEYOND MOTION and the creator of barre motion™. She is a renowned fitness expert, PMA certified Pilates Instructor, nutrition coach, motivational speaker and writer.