New to barre workouts and need a crash course in the basic techniques of ballet barre exercises? This article covers the basic techniques used in ballet-inspired barre exercises, which will ultimately help you make the most of each barre workout.
Also check out this ballet barre exercises list.
Here is a basic overview of basic ballet barre exercise movements, and how to maintain proper technique throughout a barre routine so that you get the full benefit of each workout.
Basic Ballet Barre Exercise Techniques:
Ballet Barre Technique:
- Standing: Always try to keep your spine in a perfectly straight line. Always. No matter what movement you are doing, your back should be “flat”. This involves constantly using your abdominal muscles to “tuck” and hold your tailbone in, so that your back is not arched in a curve.
- Jumping: Anytime a barre exercise involves jumping or hopping, keep one thing on your mind: Silence. You should aim to make absolutely zero ‘thumping’ sounds when you jump and land on the floor. This means keeping your heels slightly up, and engaging your calf, ankle and foot muscles on each landing to break your fall.
- Turn out: “Turning out” in dance means rotating your legs so that your feet point outwards to opposite corners. This is an entire leg position, not just for the feet, as your knees should also be pointing in the same direction as your toes. Avoid “rolling in” (putting weight on the inside of your feet), as that is bad for your knees, and instead keep your weight uniformly distributed across the bottom of each foot.
- Legs and toes: Whenever a leg or foot leaves the ground, you should be keeping your knee straight and your toes pointed. Straight knees and pointed toes are what make the beautiful, clean lines of dance. Pointing your toes should be an activity within itself, as you should be working your calves and ankles to point your toes as hard as possible, each and every time.
- Plié: This means to bend your knees and lower yourself slightly towards the ground, while keeping your heels on the floor. A “grand plié” is a deeper bend in which you slowly raise your heels as you descend towards the floor until your thighs make contact with your calves.
- Relevé: This means to engage your calves and raise yourself up onto the balls of your feet, bringing your heels off of the ground (aka “stand on your tippy-toes”). Your legs should stay straight in relevé unless otherwise instructed.
New to barre? Read a quick introduction to barre workouts here.
One of the most misleading things about barre workouts is how small and easy the movements may look when you’re not doing them yourself. While it is true that basic barre exercise routines rarely employ heavy weights or intense cardio, this does not mean your muscles aren’t going to be screaming by the end of a full hour workout.
So where does this exercise intensity come from?
Dancers get buff by constantly engaging a wide range of muscle groups throughout their entire bodies, even when merely “standing there”. This is because proper ballet barre technique requires you to hold yourself and move in such precise ways, that every movement is a form of resistance training.