6 Teeny, Tiny Barre Movements That Add up to a Full-on Workout

Photo: Getty Images/Stígur Már Karlsson Heimsmyndir
When it comes to fitness, you might assume that the bigger the movement, the sorer the muscles, and the better the results. That’s not always the case though. Take the beauty of barre, for example. The ballet-based workout focuses on small, dance-like movements that target slow-twitch muscle fibers (yup, just like Pilates) that add up to a full-on, sweaty workout.

If you dig the sound of this and think you might want to brush up on barre, you’re in luck. Ahead you’ll find six teeny tiny movements that you can master right at home. Just remember to breathe through the burn, y’all.

Bring these 6 barre moves home with you

1. Parallel leg extension: Light your quads and abs on fire with this balancing act. Start standing with your feet parallel and hip-width apart. “Work near a chair, wall, or counter for balance,” says Katelyn DiGiorgio, Pure Barre’s vice president of training and technique. “Extend your right leg out straight in front of you toward hip height, and flex your foot. Slowly lower and lift the leg in a smooth, controlled range of motion.”

Repeat this process for 30 seconds. At the top of the movement, Digiorgio says to hold your leg up at your highest point while holding strong posture through the upper body. From there, perform small lifts up for 30 seconds. “Hold the leg at your highest point with a tiny bend in the knee, and then extend the leg straight,” she instructs. “Repeat for 30 seconds, holding the leg straight, point your toes, and perform small lifts up for 30 seconds before repeating on the other side.”

2. Plié squat and heels up pulse: Ignite your inner thighs and booty with this teeny tailored move. “Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart and toes turned out, holding a dumbbell in both hands, arms extended,” instructs Tone It Up founders Karena Dawn. “Lift your heels off the ground. With your pelvis tucked, spine long, and core engaged, lower straight down until your thighs are as close to parallel to the ground as possible. Pulse up two inches then down two inches, and repeat for 20 reps.”

3. Wide second: Torch your quads and hamstrings while improving your overall balance with this simple ballet move. “Reach your arms out in front of you at shoulder height,” instructs DiGiorgio. “Walk your feet out wider than your hips and turn your toes out slightly. Make sure your shoulders are stacked over the hips, with the chest open. Lower down three-to-four inches as the arms reach up to the ceiling. Lift back up as the arms reach forward.” Do this for 30 seconds. “Keep the arms up to the ceiling and pulse the legs,” she says, noting to repeat for 30 seconds. “Rise onto both tippie toes, reach the arms forward, repeat one and two.” Finish with a 10-second tip-toe isometric hold.

4. Rock the boat:  Cater to your core with this ballet-meets-yoga movement. “Start seated with your knees bent and feet lifted off the ground,” instructs Dawn. “With a flat back and chest lifted, lean back at a 45-degree angle, and bring your hands together with your elbows out. Twist your torso to the right, then back to center. Repeat on the left side. Do 15 reps on each side.”

5. Pretzel: Your hamstrings, abs, and glutes will feel the burn with this tangled twister. “Have a seat on the floor and bend your left leg to 90 degrees in front of you,” DiGiorgio instructs. “Bend your right knee out in line with your hip or slightly behind the hip line. Bring your right heel toward your seat, point your toes. Place your fingertips on the floor. Sit up tall. Rotate the right hip forward, and then release.” Do this for 30 seconds. “Perform small rotations forward for 30 seconds then float your right leg off the floor, lift up and hold for two seconds and repeat for 30 seconds,” she says. “Hold the leg hovering the floor, or there's the option to reach both arms forward, and perform small lifts up. Repeat for 30 seconds, and then switch legs and repeat.”

6. Parallel foldover: Last but not least, target your hamstrings, abs, and glutes with this easy mover. “Stand facing a chair, wall, or counter for balance,” DiGiorgio instructs. “Place both hands on your support and walk back to fold yourself in half—hips stacked over feet. Bring your feet hip-width apart and parallel. Bend your right heel to your seat and flex your foot. Take a soft bend in your standing knee. Lower the right knee slowly in line with the left then slowly press back up.” Repeat here for 30 seconds. “Hold the knee at hip height, perform small presses up for 30 seconds, slowly extend your right leg all the way straight, then slowly bend your heel back to your seat,” she says. “Repeat for 30 seconds, hold the leg straight, point your toes, perform small lifts up, and repeat for another 30 seconds before switching legs.”

If you love big results from simple routines, check out this 3-move total body workout. Or this 15-minute ab workout that scorches every muscle in your core.

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