6 Barre Workouts To Try, Even If You Don't Know The First Thing About Ballet

Even as a former bun-head, and as someone who went to ballet camp as a teen, I'll still be the first to admit ballet can be pretty intimidating.

But I do know that some of the most basic ballet moves are really simple, challenging ways to strengthen your muscles.

And honestly, these moves can be done literally anywhere.

I often do my barre workouts by simply using the back of a chair.

And yes, I do feel the burn the next day. 

Here are six beginner barre workouts to try, even if you never have been, and never will be, a ballerina.

1. Begin With The Littlest Bends

Pliés, baby.

So simple, and yet so good for stretching, warming, and strengthening your muscles. 

You don't have to look up all the basic ballet positions before beginning this, but you definitely can, since the classic ballet warm-up is to go through pliés in all five positions.

Either way, start with your heels together in a little V shape (first position) with your arm out to your side, parallel to the ground and slightly bent, and your other hand balancing yourself on your makeshift barre.

Bend your knees slightly, bringing your arm parallel across your body.

Repeat twice, before bending all the way down to the ground, keeping your heels on the floor for as long as you can. 

Repeat, separating your heels into second position.

As a note, you want to make sure your knees are in line with your toes, not twisted in any way.

A good way to get your natural "turn out" is by starting in parallel, and shifting your weight toward your heels, rotating your legs out to see where they land naturally.

When you're finished doing sets, balance in relevé, trying to lift both hands over your head.

2. Getting Right To The Point

In ballet, pointing your foot is called a tendue.

Going back to first position, put both hands on whatever you're using for your barre.

Point your left foot out to the side, returning to first position, then the right foot, returning again to first position.

Then do two on the left, two on the right, then four on the left, four on the right, adding two on each side until you get to a total of eight on each side.

Once you've gotten to eight, alternate for eight counts on the left and right, one right after another.

Again, balance on relevé when you've finished.

Feeling the burn yet?

3. Get Really Into Those Relevés

Lifting into relevé 10 times in both first and second position (feet turned out, heels together, then heels apart) is generally a great way to transition between each exercise.

Ballet is badass, isn't it?

4. Lift In The Name Of The Booty

Keeping both hands on your barre, point your right leg behind you, and lift as high as you can comfortably go without "collapsing" toward your arms.

The goal is to have your leg be parallel to the floor (which is called an arabesque).

Lift and point eight to 10 times on each side, leaving the leg up on the last lift and "pulsing" eight to 10 times.

You can repeat this, and if you're comfortable and have enough room, point the leg forward, and then kick it back with a healthy swing.

Remember to keep your core engaged, which is always really important.

Let the kids show you how it's done:

5. Get Ready To Jump

Stepping away from your barre, get back into first position.

Start bending in a small plié, then jump, landing again in plié.

Repeat four jumps, then switch to second position.

Alternate and add two in each position until you are up to 10.

6. Do A Criss-Cross

Lying on your back, and placing your arms and hands on either side of your body to brace yourself, lift your legs into the air with legs pointed.

In motion, tightly and quickly cross your right leg in front of your left leg, then your left leg in front of your right.

Not entirely unlike scissors, but you're thinking about the inner thighs going front and back instead of back and forth.

Repeat until you get to 50, take five deep breaths, then try 50 more.

Pro tip: It never hurts to put on a little classical music either.

Just to like, get in the mood.