As more and more people forgo fitness studios to exercise at home, one workout is gaining renewed buzz: barre.
Not only does a barre workout work muscles you didn’t even know you had, but it’s also easy to do at home.
“Joining a barre class online is a great way to stay in shape at home,” says Andrea Fornarola, CPT, ACE, and AFAA, founder and director of Elements™ Fitness Studio.
Here’s everything you need to know about doing a barre workout at home.
What Is Barre?
Barre is a full-body strength training workout that incorporates moves from ballet, Pilates, and yoga.
Most of the exercises use bodyweight resistance — with the exception of light weights for arm exercises — and require you to balance with a hand on a ballet barre or sturdy chair for support.
There are dozens of different barre classes, but most barre workouts alternate between isometric holds and compound exercises (like squats) with micro-movements.
What Are the Benefits of a Barre Workout?
The benefits of a ballet barre workout include “increased strength and flexibility,” Fornarola says, not to mention improved muscular endurance and range of motion.
Plus, barre is low-impact, so there’s typically less risk of injury, says Kelly Bryant, YA ERYT-200, RPYT, NASM-CPT, and creator/founder of Kelly Bryant Wellness.
“There’s also a very strong focus on posture and core strength, which — if done correctly — can help prevent low-back pain and other aches and pains,” she adds.
Can You Do a Barre Workout at Home?
Yes! All you need is a couch, sturdy chair, or countertop as a stand-in ballet barre, Bryant says.
You may also want a set of light weights (two to five pounds) and resistance bands.
If you’re looking for a barre home workout, Barre Blend with Elise Joan is a great place to start — it’s a low-impact, total-body workout program.
The program also includes cardio interval training in each workout to keep your heart rate up and help burn calories and fat.
3 Beginner Barre Exercises to Try
Because barre focuses on small movements — like moving your leg up and down by half an inch — the reps are higher.
Thirty to 50 reps for each exercise is normal, Bryant says. “For example, 10 slow reps, 10 on-tempo, and 20 pulses.”
And remember: good form is critical.
Be sure to follow along with an instructor and check out your form in the mirror if you’re just starting out, she adds.
Here some barre moves to give you an example of what to expect:
1. Wide Second Barre Press
“Wide second presses are great for thigh work,” Fornarola says, “and turn into a total body exercise when executed off the ballet barre.”
To do a wide second barre press:
- With one arm holding on to a barre or sturdy chair, stand in a wide second position with your feet pointed outward. Hold your other arm out to the side at shoulder height, slightly bent at the elbow.
- Slowly lower yourself into a squat. Keep your core tight and your back straight.
- Make sure your shoulders are stacked atop your hips, and your knees aren’t extending farther than your toes.
- Pulse in the squat position.
2. Standing Seat
This exercise is great for your glutes and quads, says Bryant.
To do a standing seat:
- Stand facing your barre and hold onto it with both hands.
- Bend your knees and tighten your core, then lift your left leg straight back behind you.
- Pulse your leg up and down in small movements as you squeeze your glutes.
- Bring your left leg down to the ground and repeat with your right leg.
“The curl is an abdominal exercise that is great to target the abdominals and the obliques,” says Fornarola.
To do a curl:
- Sit in front of a rolled-up towel or cushion with your feet flat on the floor and bent at around 90 degrees.
- Lean back until your shoulder blades are about level with your knees and the small of your back is supported by the towel or cushion. This is the starting position.
- Slowly extend your arms forward and curl your torso up one or two inches.
- Roll back to your starting position and repeat in controlled pulses.
Barre is a great way to tone your muscles, improve your flexibility, and get a killer burn from your living room.