The best barre workout for

Best Barre workout

Skip the pricey studio classes—all you need is a chair and your own body weight for this highly effective sweat session.

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Dancing as a workout is nothing new—whether you’re doing Zumba or just jamming out to Beyoncé’s latest, it’s a fun way to break a sweat. And barre workouts truly take dance-inspired exercise to the next level. From a stronger core to better posture to leaner legs, the benefits are numerous. And as more and more barre studios open across the country, more and more people flock to them—proving this is one fitness trend that's not going away anytime soon.

The downside: Classes can be pricey—we’re talking anywhere from $20 to $30 per sweat session. The solution: This free yet seriously effective workout you can do at home from Sadie Lincoln, fitness expert and founder of Barre3. The moves are exactly what you’d do in class, and all you need is a chair (a kitchen counter works too)—no tutus or tap shoes in sight.

Go through the warm-up once, then complete the workout, which takes about 15 minutes. Starting small with your motion (part A) for each exercise will target the muscles and push them to fatigue, while layering on a large range of motion (part B) will elevate your heart rate. The routine is killer on its own, but you can also do it twice in a row or at multiple times of the day to boost the afterburn effect.

5 reps

Sumo cat/cows are a great way to warm up the spine, core, and lower body.

Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointing to 1 and 11 o’clock. Draw hips behind you and toward the seat of an imaginary chair, keeping your weight in your heels and making sure knees stay stacked over ankles. As you exhale, scoop your core and round through your spine. As you inhale, lift your tailbone and slightly lift your gaze forward.

60 reps (or 2 minutes)

This move warms up your muscles and gets your heart pumping while still being easy on your joints.

Stand with feet wide, toes pointing to 10 and 2 o’clock. Bend knees and hold, making sure spine is long, hips are square, and feet are rooted to the floor. Straighten legs, lean to the right, and tap left toe. Bend knees through center, then lean to the left, tap right toe, and lift arms. Continue, lowering arms as you tap your left toe.

5 reps per side

This active stretch opens the hips and upper body while heating the lower body.

Step right foot behind you. Bend left knee and hold, keeping left knee directly over the ankle. Reach back through right heel and extend right leg long. Interlace palms and lift them up over your head as you inhale. As you exhale, bend right knee toward the floor, round through upper back, and push palms down and forward. Inhale to return to starting position.

15 reps

This move opens up the back of the legs as well as the outer hips and IT band.

Place palms on a chair (or another waist-high surface, like a kitchen counter), and step feet back behind you. Bend knees slightly, lean torso forward, and hold. Exhale, bend right knee, and lift left hip up toward the ceiling. Inhale through center. Repeat on the other side to complete 1 rep.

A. 30 reps (or 1 minute) B. 15 reps (or 1 minute)

This move targets the front of the legs, hamstrings, and the seat muscles—it's functional training at its best.

Step feet out slightly wider than hips. Reach tailbone back as if you are sitting in a chair, keeping belly drawn in, spine long, and shoulders wide and down the back. Hold for 5 deep breaths.

A: Bring palms to heart center as you lean back into heels and lower 1 inch. Press into heels and lift 1 inch.

B: Adding on a large range of motion, press into feet to lift up to standing, drawing palms to sides. Return to squatting position.

This pose shapes your entire leg, especially your inner and outer thighs.

Draw heels together and turn legs out so toes are about 4 inches apart in a narrow "V" position. Keeping shoulders stacked over hips, bend knees into a narrow plie. Press heels firmly together as you hover them slightly off the floor, coming onto the balls of your feet. Rest one hand on the chair for balance or bring palms together in prayer for a balance challenge. Hold for 5 deep breaths.

A: Keeping your range small and controlled, lower 1 inch deeper into your plie, then lift 1 inch.

B: Increasing your range of motion, drop your seat down toward your heels, then lift all the way up and squeeze your inner thighs together.

This one simple move effectively targets many muscles in the lower body, and it’s also a great balance challenge to train the core and reinforce good posture.

Place palms on the chair with feet parallel and hip-distance apart. Step left foot back, bend both knees slightly into a lunge, and hold. Stack right knee directly over the ankle while left knee bends toward the floor and stays under hip. Press right foot and the ball of your left foot down evenly into the floor. Keep hips level and square, core engaged, and shoulders stacked over hips. Hold for 5 deep breaths.

A: Drop left knee down 1 inch. Push into right heel and lift up 1 inch, making sure right knee stays stacked over the ankle the entire time.

B: Adding on a large range of motion, drop left knee toward the floor until you find your edge. Push into right heel and lift all the way up until legs are almost straight. Repeat entire exercise, stepping right leg back.

Inspired by ballet, this graceful pose works the inner and outer thighs and outer seat muscles.

Take a wide step out from chair, pointing toes to 2 and 10 o’clock. Bend knees and slide down an imaginary wall. Stack shoulders over hips and engage core. Hold for 5 deep breaths.

A: Lower your seat down once inch. Press into feet and lift up 1 inch.

B: Adding on a large range of motion, plie down, letting right arm sweep down to your side. Press into left foot and rebound up, sweeping right arm overhead and lifting right leg out to the side as you lengthen through the right side body and lean over the chair.


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