Can the Barre Workout Give You a Dancer's Body?

This buzzed-about method is inspired by classic dance moves.

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on September 01, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

Ever dream of having a dancer's body? A barre-based workout may be just the ticket. This buzzed-about method is inspired by classic dance moves and uses a ballet bar for support. Experts say the workout is ideal for sculpting a lean, ballerina-esque body.

Barre works just about every muscle group. "You'll target your abdominals, legs, glutes, and upper body," says Fred DeVito, co-founder of Exhale spa, with locations around the country. 

DeVito says if you do barre regularly, you'll see flatter abs, sculpted arms, leaner thighs, and a firmer rear. Plan to do a few days of cardio along with it.

Barre combines dance, yoga, Pilates, flexibility, and balancing exercises. It's an isometric workout, which means you focus on squeezing or contracting a muscle or muscles. You do many moves next to a ballet barre, and others away from the barre or on a mat. You may use light hand weights. Most barre classes include these basic moves:

Plié squats. This twist on a classic ballet move is great for your legs. With your toes pointing out, you'll bend your knees and lower your body into a squat position. That fires up your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

Many barre classes include different variations on the plié, like pulsing pliés and inner-thigh squeezes. You can turn up the heat on this basic move by doing a plié squat jump (the plié squat followed by a jump).

Plank. This is an excellent core-strengthener. For the best impact, hold your body still and straight. Engage your abs by pulling them in. The basic forearm plank is an excellent foundation exercise, DeVito says. Your class instructor may use variations like side planks to target different muscles.

Ab curls. Crunches are aces at strengthening your abs and core. To change things up, you might do pulsing crunches, pike crunches, or other variations on the basic crunch.

Barre workouts are easy to find through classes, online workouts, or DVDs. Studios and gyms have amped up their game with loads of specialty classes, like cardio barre, Core Fusion barre, and interval training barre.

But you may find it's best to stick to basic barre to start, DeVito says.

On Point

Try these tips from DeVito:

Be present. Clear your mind and focus on your breath to get the most out of your time at the barre.

Be regular. Aim for three to four barre workouts per week. DeVito says that with 3 hours of barre a week, you may notice a change in your body in just a few weeks.

Be patient. You may find some moves extra-tough at first. Take that as a sign that they're probably the exercises your body needs most.

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Show Sources


Fred DeVito, Exhale Spa.

American Council on Exercise: “Barre Makeover: 4 Moves for Better Results.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Should You Step Up to the Barre Workout?”

National Dairy Council: “Healthy Weight -- Plié Squats.”

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