Everywhere you look, folks are bellying up to the barre. And no wonder: Ballet-inspired workouts blast fat, focusing on lower-half results such as ab-, bum-, and leg-shaping. Get slim and trim with this 30-minute routine.
Here's the secret: Most exercises involve "micro-movements," in which you move just an inch or two. "They take out the momentum, forcing you to stay in the contraction, which tires muscles faster, giving you faster results," says former dancer Carrie Rezabek Dorr, the woman behind the superhot Pure Barre class and this 30 minute workout.
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Warm up first with 2 minutes of standing knee lifts. Next, lie on your back, draw knees up, lift head and shoulders, and bring chin to chest, coming into a tight ball.
Keeping your upper body lifted, extend legs toward ceiling, or, for more of a challenge, at a diagonal; extend arms (as shown). Pump arms up and down 4 times, then hold arms still and curl torso a tiny bit up and down twice. Repeat series 10 times.
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Get on hands and knees, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Bring feet toward your seat and tuck tailbone under. Bend elbows out to sides, lowering chest toward floor, then push back up; repeat 15 times.
Next, lower halfway down and hold; do 15 little pulses (pushing up and lowering down an inch) before coming all the way back up.
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Sit with knees bent and feet hip-width on floor, hands behind you on either side of hips, fingers forward. Lift hips off floor and shift weight back. Bend and straighten elbows 20 times, leaving feet flat, then come onto heels and repeat.
Staying on heels, walk feet forward (keep weight shifted back) and do 20 more dips.
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Stand with back at fist's distance away from barre, feet hip-distance apart, knees slightly bent; reach back with wide arms and grab barre. Extend left leg (knee toward ceiling) and flex foot (as shown). Do the following moves for 30 seconds each: Lift and lower leg a couple of inches; make small circles as if tracing a dime in the air with heel.
Repeat circles in other direction, and point toes and do small leg lifts. Repeat series on opposite side.
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Plie & releve
Stand with one hand on barre, the other on hip. Bring feet wider than hip-distance; turn toes out slightly and bend knees (keep knees behind toes), pushing hips back to sink seat to knee level.
Do the following moves for 30 seconds each: Bend knees a bit more, lowering then raising an inch; lower again and hold, slightly pressing knees back then releasing (as if pulsing).
Rise on toes, then lower and raise an inch; lower an inch and hold, pressing knees back, then releasing them.
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Standing straight leg
Stand with right hand forward on barre, knees slightly bent, heels together, toes apart. Wrap left arm around waist and grab barre. Extend left leg diagonally back with toes pointed; tuck tailbone. Do the following moves for 30 seconds each: Lift and lower left leg a couple inches; hold left foot a few inches off floor and make dime-size circles with leg.
Circle leg in opposite direction; flex foot, then lift and lower a couple inches. Make dime-size circles; reverse direction.
Repeat series on opposite side.
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Face barre, feet hip-width, knees slightly bent; stack bent forearms on barre. Walk feet back until body is folded 90 degrees at waist; rest head on arms. Keeping hips level, extend right leg straight back with foot flexed (as shown).
Do the following moves for 30 seconds each: Raise and lower leg a couple inches; make dime-size circles with leg. Reverse circle direction; point toes, then lift and lower a couple of inches. Make tiny circles with leg; reverse circle direction.
Repeat series on opposite side.
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Tap & curl
Sit with knees bent, feet hip-width on the floor. Grab beneath thighs with elbows wide, then round back, bringing lower back toward mat; tuck tailbone. Do the following moves for 30 seconds each: Extend arms straight by hips, tap fists twice against mat, then lift fists.
With arms still, lower and raise upper body an inch; with upper body still, tap fists twice against thighs, then open arms out. Lower and raise upper body an inch; extend arms up and tap fists toward each other twice, then open. Hold arms still and lower and lift body an inch.
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