Barre Exercises for barre enthusiasts of any skill level! Browse this list of barre exercises for easy, medium, and hard barre exercises that you can do at home, or in the studio. This barre exercises list uses more traditional ballet-barre style movements, in contrast to the pilates or yoga-heavy style of barre movements that some other instructors use.
Whatever your ballet barre fitness preference, you will be sure to find some new barre exercises on this list to try out. Get that ballet body with this ballet barre exercises list!
Barre Exercises List
Barre Exercises: Easy
Stand in first position, holding a small weight in each hand up and behind your head. Use your calves to raise yourself onto the balls of your feet, while simultaneously straightening your elbows and raising the weights up and above your head.
Place your hands on the barre for balance. Stand with your feet parallel, hip-width apart, and rise onto your toes. Balance on the balls of your feet and sink until your thighs make a 45-90 degree angle with the floor. “Pulse” up and down in this position, using your glutes & hamstrings to rise and sink a few inches with each pulse.
Second Position Grande Plié:
Begin by standing in second position, holding a weight in each hand out to the side. Bend your knees into a deep plié, so that your thighs are parallel with the floor, and hold this stance. Pulse a few inches up and down in this grande plié, moving your arms from the side to overhead with each pulse.
First Position Plié & Relevé:
Stand in first position, then bend your knees into a first position plié. From your plié, spring upwards onto your toes (don’t leave the ground). Hold and balance in first position relevé for 15 seconds, then quietly lower your heels, ending in first position. Repeat the first position plié to relevé movement.
Second position arm circles:
Hold a small weight in each hand, with your feet and arms in a wide second position. Sink down into a grande plié so that your thighs are parallel with the floor. Rise onto the balls of your feet, and balance there as you move your arms in quick, tight circles.
On all fours, with your forearms on the ground, bend the first leg to 90 degrees, raise it behind you so that your thigh is parallel to the ground. Pulse it up & down, extending your leg on the upward movement, returning it to a bent position as you lower it.
Stand in first position with your left side to the barre and hold a weight in your right hand. Bend your knees and hinge your torso forward, keeping your back flat. Lift your left leg behind you, keeping the knee straight and toes pointed, while at the same time lifting your right arm weight up and to the side at shoulder-height. Hold for three beats, then return to first position.
Face the bar and stand about two feet away from it. Bend your right leg and wedge a weight in the crook of your knee. Lean forward and place your hands on the bar in front of you, and pulse your weighted leg up and down behind you, then switch sides.
Incline Push Ups:
Place your hands against a counter or back of a sturdy chair. Keep your elbows glued to your sides as you bend your arms and lower yourself until your chest lightly brushes the counter top. For the length of one upbeat song (~3 minutes) push up & down on the counter, bending your arms between 45-90 degrees (never straightening them completely).
Lay with your back on the floor and knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Alternate raising and lowering your legs, tapping your toes lightly on the floor each time. Your knees should stay locked in that 90 degree angle, and instead, the raising and lowering movement comes from your glutes.
Side Plank Hip Lifts:
Prepare yourself by getting in the side plank position, leaving your hip on the ground to begin with. Then use your core muscles to raise your hips upwards, hold for three beats, then lower them to touch the floor oh-so-slightly before raising them up again.
First Position Leg Raises:
Raise your feet in the air, keep your feet & legs in first position (heels together, pointing your toes outwards). Slowly lower your legs down to the floor until they hover about one inch away from the ground, then raise your legs back up to their vertical starting position.
Start in your floor first position. Use your abs to lower your left leg down to the ground and let it hover one inch away from the floor. From here, attempt to bring your right leg in towards your face. It is crucial to keep both knees straight, and the back of your head glued to the ground while doing this. Then switch legs and repeat.
Fifth Position Leg Raises:
Lay on your back with your arms by your sides and your thumbs tucked under your lower back (this will help you stay conscious of the curve of your back). Extend your legs straight up and point your toes. Practice making little half-circles with your feet, switch them back and forth quickly so that you are alternating your right and left feet front and back. Continue this small, controlled movement with your feet & legs, but engage your abs and slowly lower your legs towards the ground, then back up.
Barre Exercises: Intermediate
Place your left hand on the barre so that you are facing the side. With your right leg, brush your foot forward and extend your leg off the floor, kicking it in front of you as high as your flexibility allows while keeping your leg straight and your foot pointed.
Place your right hand on the barre for balance. Keeping your chest lifted, brush your left foot up and off the floor behind you, and extend your left hand straight out in front of you. This is an arabesque. Balancing in this arabesque position, pulse your leg up and down behind you to work your legs & glutes.
Hold a small weight in each hand, & actively press your shoulders down and back for the duration of this exercise. Raise your arms with your elbows leading the way, and letting your forearms and wrists follow upwards in a flowing movement, ending with your hands above your head. Bring your arms back down in a similar flowing motion to complete “one” swan arm.
Grande Plié Lunges:
Alternate between jumping lunges and second-position grande plié. Do this by jumping and landing in the following order:
Jump – Left Lunge – Jump – Center Squat – Jump– Right Lunge – Jump -Center Squat.
Second Position Sauté:
Sauté means “to hop”, which is the basic action of this exercise. Stand in first position with a small weight in each hand, at shoulder-height. Bend your knees into a plié, then spring upwards as high as you can, pointing your toes in the air, then landing on the balls of your feet, trying to keep all weight off of your heels.
Balance on your left foot, bend both knees slightly and bring your right foot behind your left calf in a coupé (meaning, “to cut”) position. From your coupé, spring off of your left leg, leap to the right, and on your right foot, in a left-side coupé. Repeat these small leaps to the left and right.
Fourth to Second Jumps:
Begin by standing in fourth position, bend your knees and spring out to second position, then bend your knees and spring back in to fourth position on the other side, so that you have switched your front and back legs. With each jump take care to land on your toes, minimizing the sound of each hop against the floor.
Begin by balancing on your sit-bones and making a “V” with your legs and torso. Slightly bend your knees so that your calves & shins are parallel with the floor. Contract your abs, bringing your torso and knees inwards towards the middle, then exhale and extend them outwards. One contraction and extension is “one”. Now do one hundred.
Barre Exercises: Hard
Stand in your passé position with one hand on the barre for balance. With your standing leg, raise and lower the heel to perform 10 calf raises, while in a strong passé. Alternate between your left and right leg calf raises in sets of 10.
Stand in fifth position, place one hand on the barre and hold a small weight in your other hand. Bring one leg up & behind you in arabesque. Fondue means “to melt”, so “melt” by bending both knees and bringing your extended foot to the calf of your supporting foot. Then straighten both knees and extend your leg behind you again in arabesque.
Stand with one side to the barre, center your weight on that side, then extend your ‘open’ leg straight out behind you, leaning forward slightly. Pulse your extended leg behind you 20 times. Then sweep your extended leg in front of you and switch your lean to the back. Pulse your extended leg in front of you 20 times. Switch legs and repeat on the other side.
Stand with one side to the barre. With your ‘open’ leg (on the side away from the barre) draw your foot up the side of your standing leg until your big toe connects with your standing knee. This is a passé. From your passé, straighten your knee and extend your leg in front of you, then bend it and bring your foot back to the side of your standing knee. This is one passé extension.
Adductor Stretch & Squat:
Squat to one side in a low, forward-facing lunge, letting your hip adductors stretch and open up. Push down on your bent leg and use your muscles to rise out of the stretch, pass through the middle, and shift onto the other leg. Try to minimize using your hands (pushing on the ground) when rising out of each side squat. Move between your left and right side squats in sets of ten.
Glute Bridge Battement Tendu:
Lay on your back and center your weight on one foot as you lift the other off the ground. Engage your core as you raise your pelvis off the ground, coming into a one-legged glute bridge. Holding this position, swing your leg up towards your face, and down to tap lightly on the ground (“battement tendu” translates to “stretched beating”). Do 20 of these, then switch legs and repeat.