The Best Barre Moves for Beginners

Sculpt your way to a lean body.

August 19, 2016
bicep pulses
Photograph courtesy of Bar Method

Lifting and toning your muscles to lengthen your body are the staples of the ever-growing barre movement. Though the moves incorporate ideas from ballet, yoga, and Pilates, the strength training exercise will have you sweating and sculpting in no time. 

More: 4 Strength Training Hacks for Women

That's why we consulted with Kiesha Ramey-Presner, master instructor and VP of teacher development at The Bar Method, to get you started on your barre journey. So grab your dumbbells and get to work with these moves, right at home:

plank
Photograph courtesy of Bar Method
1. Plank

While not exclusive to the Bar Method, this popular exercise is a staple. 

Benefits: Warms up the whole body, and specifically strengthens and tones the abdominal, back, seat and shoulder-stabilizer muscles.

Do it: Come down to the floor on your knees, or for the most challenge, the balls of your feet. Place your forearms on the floor with your palms facing towards each other—you may either separate your hands (making fists or not) or interlace them. Open your legs to hip-width apart. Grip your glutes and tuck under by gently rolling your hips underneath your spine. Lift your head in line with your spine. Pull in your abs and exhale sharply. Pull your shoulders down and flatten your back. Hold for about one minute.

Shoulder walks
Photograph courtesy of Bar Method
2. Shoulder walks

For this exercise, you'll need a light set of two to three pound weights.

Benefits: Teaches your body good posture and alignment, tones and strengthens your deltoids, and works your core muscles—specifically those in your abs, glutes and upper back.

Do it: Hold one light weight in each hand. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel. Soften your knees, grip your glutes and shift your rib cage forward to engage your abs. Rest the tops of the weights of your thighs with your palms facing each other. Press your shoulders down. Straighten your arms. Lift one arm up to shoulder height. Cross your arms in the middle of your range of motion. Tap the weight off of your thigh each time and move at your own pace. Continue for two to three minutes.

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heel lifts
Photograph courtesy of Bar Method
3. Heel lifts

For this exercise, you'll need a stable (non-rolling) chair with a high back that you can hold lightly for balance.

Benefits: Warms up your feet, strengthens your knees, tones your calves and hamstrings, and sculpts your glutes.

Do it: Face a half-arm's length from the backside of the chair, and hold it lightly for balance. Open your feet hip-width apart and parallel. Straighten your legs. Tuck under by gently rolling your hips underneath your spine. Bend slightly forward at your waist, and pull your shoulders back and down. Lift and lower your heels up, down, up, down. For more of a challenge, you have the option of balancing with your hands on your waist or your arms overhead. Do about 30 to 60 reps max.

Bicep pulses
Photograph courtesy of Bar Method
4. Bicep pulses

For this exercise, you'll need a slightly heavier set of three- to four-pound weights.

Benefits: Teaches your body good posture and alignment, carves your biceps, and works your core muscles—specifically those in your abs, glutes and upper back. 

Do it: Hold one heavier weight in each hand. Straighten your arms, turn your palms forward and upward, and draw your hands about a foot forward of your thighs. Bend your arms so that your weights are one inch lower than your elbows. Bend your elbows to lift your weights one inch up toward elbow height and one inch down. Keep your upper arms still, with your elbows at a fixed point. Continue small, controlled bends for 30 seconds to one minute.

Standing seat
Photograph courtesy of Bar Method
5. Standing seat

For this exercise, you'll need a stable (non-rolling) chair with a high back that you can hold lightly for balance.

Benefits: Improves your posture and streamlines your body from your shoulders to your knees, making your body look straighter, longer and more elegant. Lifts your glutes and gets you in touch with muscles you "never knew you had."

Do it (gluteus maximus): Face a half-arm's length from the backside of the chair, and hold it lightly for balance. Press your heels together and open the balls of your feet two to three inches apart into a Narrow V. Soften your knees and gently roll your hips under your spine—grip your glutes firmly.

Pick up your (right) foot and rest it on the floor behind you. Align your (right) knee underneath your hip or slightly forward. Push the top of your (right) foot into the floor and use that pressure to roll your hips underneath your spine and squeeze your glutes tightly. Use your hamstring and glute muscles to lift your foot off the floor a couple of inches. Draw your abs in tightly and use the muscles underneath your shoulders to pull your shoulders down your back and open your chest. Exhale and continue breathing.

Use the powerful muscle at the base of your seat to pull your leg back against the resistance of your tuck. Pull back-hold, back, back. Vary the tempo and include static holds to your preference. Continue for one-and-a-half to two minutes per leg.

Do it (gluteus medius): (From your previous setup) Lower your (right) foot. Retuck your seat. Draw your (right) toes six to eight inches to the side to activate the corner of your seat, your gluteus medius. Tuck again and shift your body weight slightly towards the (right). Align your (right) knee in line with your hip and lower your (right) hip down.

Use the muscle in the side of your seat to lift your (right) foot about an inch off the floor. Exhale and continue breathing. Use your gluteus medius (corner of your seat) to draw your leg out and diagonally back. Press out-hold, out, out. Vary the tempo and include static holds to your preference. Continue for one-and-a-half to two minutes per leg.

Already master these moves? Head on over to Bar Method on August 20 and 21, and celebrate their 15th anniversary by taking part in one of their free classes for new clients! 

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