Take one look at a ballerina's leg muscles—or put yourself through 50 minutes of a barre class—and you'll know one thing for sure: dancer workouts are no joke. Dancers are serious, strong athletes, and their bodies are able to perform at levels that the rest of us can only begin to imagine.
While performing at the American Ballet Theater might be a pipe dream for most of us, we can take notes from their workouts... without having to invest in installing a barre in our living rooms. The result? A stronger core, and some seriously burning inner thighs.
Here, trainer Rahel Ghebremichael shares her version of a dancer workout—complete with a series of plies that are no joke—and will make you feel Swan Lake-strong right from your living room. Five-pound weights and tutu, optional.
1. Plié arm extension: Start with your legs wider than your hips—as far as you can go—keeping your chest open. Be sure to hold your spine neutral with your shoulders back, and don’t let your weight pull forward. Hook your elbows in towards your sides (with your dumbbells in hand, if you’ve got ‘em), and squat down low while extending your arms straight out to the side. Keep your core engaged, and pull back up to standing while bringing your elbows back to your sides.
2. Plié with right heel lifted: Holding your plié position, lift your right heel and roll your shoulders down away from your ears. If you’re shifting around, open your legs slightly wider. Squat up and down in your plié, moving your arms through bicep curls in front of your body as you do it. Repeat 10 times.
3. Plié with left heel lifted: Holding your plié, lift your left heel and position your arms out perpendicular to your body. Squat up and down in your plié position, moving your arms through bicep curls on the sides of your body as you do it. Repeat 10 times.
4. Plié to lateral lunge (right): Step your left foot in slightly. Hold your hip open on the left side, and step your right foot out into a lateral lunch, keeping your toes parallel to the front. Bring it back in to your plié position, rotating your foot, and squat down. Repeat 10 times.
5. Plié to lateral lunge (right): Stabilize on the right leg, and perform the same lateral lunge move with your left leg. Repeat 10 times.
6. Pliés with alternating heel lifts: In your plié position, squat down, alternating lifting each heel as you reach the bottom of the move. Repeat 10 times.
7. Curtsy sit (right): Step your legs in closer together from your plié, and stabilize on the right. Step your left leg behind you into a curtsy lunge (think: Kate Middleton greeting the queen) and curl your arms up. Be sure to square your hips and tighten your core. Repeat 10 times.
8. Curtsy sit (left): Stabilize on the left leg, and repeat the same move with your left leg stepping behind. As you squat down, move your arms through a bicep curl, and focus on sitting your weight back and keeping your hips square. Repeat 10 times.
To up the intensity, repeat for one to two more rounds, add five to 15 reps to each move, or increase your weight.
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