Allow me to introduce a bar(re) that we can all benefit from where the bar(re)tenders are serving up toned abs, strong legs, and firm glutes! You won’t find shots of tequila here, but when has that ever been a good idea anyway? Barre classes have become all the rage among those seeking a new way to achieve their dream body. Whether you don’t live near a studio or maybe you’re a little embarrassed to plie in public, these fat-burning exercises are perfect for an at-home workout. Many of them require no equipment at all and will have you rethinking why this hasn’t always been the only bar(re) in your life. Don’t have a full barre in your house? That’s alright, neither do we – Use any secure surface, such as the back of a chair or countertop, to hold on to as you run through each exercise.
Standing Hip Extension
Scorch your hips, butt, and thighs with this fiery, yet delicate move using an exercise ball. Stand facing the barre and bring your thighs together. Bend your left leg at a 90-degree angle and place the ball behind your knee. If you don’t have a ball handy, try rolling up a towel and squeezing that instead. Glue the inner thighs together, firms the belly, and keep the pelvis neutral. Draw the left heel towards your glutes to engage the hamstrings then make tiny pulses straight back with the heel and ball. Do three sets of ten pulses on each side.
First And Second Position Plie
Coming in hot is another classic barre move for the hips, thighs, legs, and glutes. Let’s start by finding your unique first position. Stand tall with legs together and abdominals drawing in. Turn your legs out from the hip sockets while squeezing the glutes and pulling the thighs together. Knees and ankles follow the natural direction of the hips. This is your first position. Using support under your hand, lightly bend the knees for a count of three while keeping the spine straight and tighten the glutes to rise back up for a count of one. Repeat ten times then reverse the motion – lower for a count of one and rise for a count of three. Next, lower halfway down and pulse for ten counts. Repeat this movement ten times. Step the feet slightly wider than shoulder width, keeping the feet turned out. This is your second position. Repeat the above sequence in the second position, and if you’d like an extra challenge try doing it with heels lifted!
If your lower body wasn’t already on fire, you’re about to meet your match! Contrary to its name, this exercise will work pretty much everything below the waist. Stand facing your support structure with legs together. Rise high on the balls of the feet while activating the hamstrings and drawing the tailbone down. Slowly lift and lower the heels twenty times, staying engaged through the entire back line of the legs. Turn your toes out to the first position and repeat the exercise.
Arabesque And Attitude
You’re going to need a little attitude to keep moving through this intense lower body workout! Place both hands on your support with hips squared forward and legs in the first position. Lengthen your left leg back, off the ground. Raise it high towards the ceiling and let the torso come forward. Focus on lifting from your glutes as you repeat four more times. Bend at the knee and turn your leg out from the hip and lift here five times. Repeat on the other side, maybe coming high on the balls of the feet for an extra challenge.
Once you figure out how to get into this position, the name will make perfect sense. Sit on a mat and bring your right shin parallel to the front of the mat. Protect your knee by keeping it in line with your hip as you reach your left leg behind at a 45-degree angle. Keep the spine long and squared forward as you gently support your weight with your hands. Lift the left leg off the floor, making tiny pulses and keeping the core tight. Repeat ten times before bending the left knee and pressing the leg to straight for ten reps.
Alright, let’s get working on those washboard abs! You’ve likely seen or tried this exercise before, but let’s make sure you’ve got the proper alignment. Start lying flat on your back with feet flexed, core engaged, and arms up by your ears. Take a deep breath in and pull your lower back into the floor. Exhale and slowly roll your body up using your core to lift the upper back away from the ground. Reach your fingertips towards your toes before rolling back down on an inhale. Make sure to stay in control until your flat on your back again.
If I had to guess, I’d say this pose was named for the remarkable way it transforms your midsection like magic. Sit down with your feet flat and arms in the famous ‘genie’ position, fingers over elbows. Bring a gentle curve to the spine, pull the navel in, and keep the shoulders in line with the elbows. Keeping a generous bend in the knees, lift the left leg as you twist your upper body to the left and tap elbow to knee. Inhale through center and exhale to the other side. Continue alternating for thirty seconds or longer if you’re feeling ambitious.
I hope you’re ready for a new twist on an old favorite. Find your way to a plank position with wrists stacked under shoulders and belly drawn in. On a breath out, bend the knees while rounding the upper back and tucking your chin towards your chest. Exhale back to plank and repeat for a count of ten. It might sound pretty simple but believe me; ten reps will leave you sweaty and sore.
Side Plank Reach
Here’s another excellent way to rev up your plank game. Come to a side plank on your left side with left palm planted slightly forward from your shoulder and your right hip stacked over the left. With your legs stacked, thread your right hand under your torso then back overhead. Slowly lower the hips then repeat for ten reps on each side.
Down Dog Knee Drive
Arguably the most popular yoga pose, downward facing dog has many variations and associated exercises to challenge both strength and flexibility. Start in plank pose and move your hips towards the ceiling to find downward facing dog pose. Bring the soles of the feet together and inhale your left leg towards the ceiling. Exhale your left knee towards your chest as you round the spine and tuck the chin. Inhale the leg back towards the ceiling once more letting the chest soften between the arms. Exhale your left knee towards your right elbow and repeat the motion of raising the leg behind on your breath in. Continue to alternate between front and oblique tucks for a count of ten. Switch sides and repeat.
Narrow V Thigh Work
Skip past this one if you’re not interested in slimmer, stronger legs – Still with me? I thought so. This exercise does more than create long, lean thighs; It also engages the muscles of the core and cultivates a full body burn! Stand tall with some support on your side, heels together, and balls of the feet separated two to three inches. Lift your heels about an inch off the floor as you bend the knees. Make sure to keep the spine straight as you lower down to a place that challenges your legs to work hard. Relax your calf and glute muscles as you pulse from this position one inch up and down.
Let’s get working on that six pack you’ve always dreamed of, or maybe just that stubborn pooch. Lie on your back with legs in a 90-degree angle and hands gripping the back of the thighs. Use the strength of the arms to bend forward as much as possible, curling the upper body towards the legs. Repeat for ten reps, or hold the curl up for thirty seconds.
Take A Bow
Who knew that taking a bow could work everything from your legs and glutes to your core and shoulders? Hold a five-pound dumbbell or anything else you have on hand, in front of your chest with both hands. Take a deep side lunge with your right foot, keeping the left leg straight and the chest open. Press off your right foot and step it behind the left leg into a curtsy lunge. As you make this motion with the lower body, bring the arms overhead to follow the direction of the right leg. Fire up the obliques to come back to the deep side lunge with hands at chest-level. Repeat for ten reps before switching to the other side.
Squat To Lunge Combination
Adding some extra elements to your squat will challenge the lower body even further – As if a regular squat wasn’t exciting enough! This squat to lunge combination really gets the core engaged by testing balance and stability. With feet just outside of hip-distance and toes slightly turned out, lower into a full squat and bring the arms in front parallel to the floor. Slowly turn your body to the left, lifting the right heel and finding a lunge on this side with arms overhead. Come back through center into a squat and move to the other side. Continue alternating sides for a total count of twenty.
Let’s get those arms toned and tank top ready! Hold a pair of five-pound dumbbells in both hands and stand tall in the first position. Lift your arms overhead and then bend the elbows to the sides letting the dumbbells come behind the head. Tighten through the core as you rise high on the balls of the feet and extend the arms straight overhead with palms facing forward. Lower heels and bend elbows simultaneously to finish the set. Repeat this motion for a total of 20 reps, and you’ll have the arms you’ve always dreamed of in no time!
There you have it – 15 juicy exercises to get trim and toned all over! I’m sure you’re amazed at how big of a burn such small movements can create. It’s totally normal for some exercises to feel better than others, find which ones work best for you and create your own routine. Incorporate barre into your weekly schedule, and you’ll notice the fat melting away in no time!
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After spending nearly two decades as a relationship therapist, Patricia journeyed down the path of writing as a vehicle for sharing her wisdom. Her work reflects a sincere interest in readers’ wellbeing and is abundant with helpful advice and fascinating insight.