Want a long, lean physique? We give you permission to head straight to the barre. These ballet-inspired movements have been shown to flatten abs, sculpt thighs,Â tone arms, and lift your rear. Even better? The fat-blasting moves can be done just about anywhereâno ballet barre required.
To get started, we talked to Sadie Lincoln, author ofÂ Love Your Lower Body,Â and founder ofÂ barre3, for a workout that combines ballet barre work, the wisdom ofÂ yoga, and the strength of Pilates. And since Barre3 workouts are often done in 10-minute segments, you can put the lid on that âI donât have timeâ excuses jarâweâre not having it!
âEvery workout includes an isometric hold, small one-inch movements, and a dynamic, functional range of motion,â says Lincoln. Try one of all of these moves whileÂ cooking dinner, watching your favorite TV shows, or as a quick break at the office. Itâs time to raise the barre!
Do-Anywhere Barre ExercisesÂ
Where:Â The office
Targets:Â Arms, chest, and back
How to:Â Place your hands directly on your desk or a sturdy chair that can support your weight, shoulder-distance apart, and step back so youâre on the balls of your feet.Â With the arms extended and spine long, engage your core. (a) Bend your elbows and draw your chest towards the counter.Â (b) Next, press through your palms and extend the arms bringing you back to the start position.Â (c) Continue for 60 seconds while maintaining solid form.
RELATED:Â 6 Exercises for Strong, Lean Arms
Sculpt your seat
Where: The kitchen counter
Targets: Glutes, core
How to:Â Stand tall and lightly rest your palms on the counter. (a) Bend your knees slightly and draw your right foot behind you.Â (b) Lift the leg directly behind you a few inches and hold. The standing knee should be soft, hips squared towards the desk. Make sure the core is engaged, spine is long and youâre leaning slightly forward. (c) Next, lift the right toe up one inch and lower, then slide the same leg out to the right one inch and pull it back to center. (d)Â Perform this L-shaped move for 30 reps, then repeat on the left side.
Photo: Courtesy barre3
Where: The living room
Targets:Â Inner thighs, legs
How to:Â Facing the back of your couch or a sturdy chair, rest your hands on the support and plant your feet wider than your hips. Bend your knees slightly and hold, making sure the knees arenât locked. Your toes should be turned out, knees tracking over the middle toes, hips squared, and core engaged. (a) Drag the right heel towards the left foot until feet are together and youâre standing tall.Â (b) Next, step out with the left foot until youâre back in the wide straddle position with your bent knees.Â (c) Draw your left foot back towards your right foot until youâre standing tall. (d) Then, step the right foot out to the right until youâre back in the straddle pose. (e) Repeat the back and forth exercises for 60 seconds. For a more advanced move, work on your balance by trying this exercise without the support.
Photo: Courtesy barre3
RELATED:Â 7 Ways to Get Fit in Half the Time
Where:Â Living room or bedroom
Targets:Â Core, obliques
How to:Â Sitting on a mat, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, lean back and place theÂ barre3Â core ballÂ or a rolled up towel between your shoulder blades on the mat behind you. (a) With your backside rooted into the mat and spine long, engage your core and rest the weight of your head into your hands. (b) Inhale and slightly open your chest over the ball or towel.Â (c) As you exhale, draw your low belly down while lifting your head, neck and shoulders up and taking a small cinch to the right by angling the right elbow towards your right waist. (d)Â Inhale back through center, then exhale and repeat to the left.Â Be sure to focus on the belly and rib cage drawing down and in towards your hips to target all layers of the core. Continue for 60 seconds.
Photo: Courtesy barre3
RELATED:Â 7 No-Crunch Exercises for Six-Pack Abs
Boost Your Barre Benefits
Have a need for speed? Remember that rushing through the movements wonât get you far. To maximize your time at the barre (or support), follow these essential tips to reap the most benefits from your workout.
Embrace the shakes
Quivering muscles are a good thing with these isometric movements. An isometric hold strengthens your muscles since you arenât taking breaks for muscle recovery. As you engage your muscles to stay in a posture, youâre taxing both the large and small stabilizer muscles. Holding your muscles during a contraction helps to increase your strength and endurance without having to add weight.Â Remember to always stop if you feel sharp pain or any other discomfort.
Listen to what your body needs
Customize the workout to your needs and fitness level. At barre3, they say, âWork smarter instead of harder.â Sometimes the most simple and basic exercises are the most challenging and effective. âThose who listen to their bodyâs wisdom get better results faster,â says Lincoln. When youâre starting out, feel free to modify the moves, do fewer reps, or take a break whenever you need to. Itâs better to do fewer repetitions correctly than to sacrifice form and try to muscle through the recommended reps.
Incorporate at least five minutes ofÂ stretchingÂ at the end of each session or class to safely bring the heart rate down and release tension in the muscles. We guarantee youâll be feeling it the next day, so make your recovery count. Lincoln also recommends rounding out barre workouts with cardiovascular activities like brisk walking, swimming, or cycling.
Hydrate and refuel
To make sure youâre adequately hydrated, weigh yourself before you work out so youâll be able to tell how much water weight youâve lost, suggestsÂ The American College of Sports Medicine. The ACSM recommends drinking 8-12 ounces of water 15 minutes before any workout, 3-8 ounces every 15 minutes during exercise, and 20-24 ounces of water afterwards for every pound of body weight lost. Lincoln also suggests having a post-workout snack that includes fat, fiber, and protein, like a handful of raw nuts.
Need some extra motivation to commit to your new workout routine? Enlist a friendâor find support onlineâto help you stick to a program youâll love all season long. ForÂ added incentive, put a few dollars in a âbathing suitâ jar (or whatever reward you set) every time you complete a workout. Before you know it youâll be cashing in on your hard work.
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