It’s summer, and now more than ever, we want to feel a little more toned… and a little less busy. These four game-changing barre exercises are multi-taskers you can do anywhere that tone, strengthen, and stabilize multiple areas at once. That means you can savor more time in your fave summer lounge chair, and still get your workout in. (You’re welcome.) All you’ll need is a chair (or anything to hold on to) and a towel or mat to lie on… beach towel optional.
1. The Plank is ideal for building core strength, and the forearm plank adds upper body focus as well as trunk strength and stabilization. Also, the feeling of being in plank – your alignment, stability, and focus on your core – translates to almost every movement in a barre class and beyond. Virtually every other exercise (including your fave summer activities like swimming, surfing, or paddleboarding!) depends on a stable, solid core.
1. Place your forearms down on the floor, shoulder-width apart (elbows under your shoulders) and parallel. Keep your wrists parallel to each other with the palm side of your fists facing each other.
2. Press your shoulders away from your ears.
3. Begin with your legs bent and place your lower front thigh on the floor, taking the weight off your knees.
4. Engage your abdominals by pulling in. (Emphasize the abdominal lock and breathing without moving your abdominals.)
5. Press your shoulders down and lengthen your neck.
6. Check for spine alignment, proper head alignment, and observe that your hips stay in line with your shoulders.
7. Hold for 30 seconds, building up to 60 seconds. Your goal is to increase your duration.
2. Turned Out V Thigh isn’t just a leg exercise. It boasts an impressive roster of benefits for your full body — it strengthens and elongates the quadriceps group, developing long, lean thighs and calves, helps to stabilize the knee joint, increases muscle density in the quadriceps (without developing bulk) for optimal caloric usage, and will shed inches. Overall, this exercise decreases total body fat percentage and increases muscle density. It’s an all-in-one game-changer!
1. Face the barre at arm’s length away, your hands placed lightly on the barre (or simply the back of a chair, if you’re at home!) and shoulder-width apart.
2. Place your heels together and your toes apart in a narrow 45-degree V position. Align your shoulders over your hips and your ears over your shoulders. Your hips, knees, and feet should be stacked on top of each other with any turnout initiating from your hips.
3. Bend your knees about 5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 cm). Raise your heels 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) off the floor, and press your heels together. Soften the elbow(s) of the arm(s) holding the barre.
4. Keep a neutral spine and your abdominals pulled in.
5. Hold for 30 seconds.
6. Return to a standing position.
7. Repeat the pose 3 times.
3. The Pretzel is a glute strengthener as well as a side core stabilizer, which makes it a great exercise for shaping the waist and high glute area. (Hello, summer days and every excuse to show a little skin!) This multi-dimensional, multi-tasking exercise gives you toning, strengthening benefits all around your waist and glutes.
1. Sit with your left knee behind your hip and the right knee directly in line with your right hip.
2. Square your breast bone over the center of your front thigh, sitting with your ears over your shoulders and hips. Your abdominals are pulled in with your shoulders pressing down.
3. Rotate your left hip (the working hip) forward so that your left ankle comes off the floor and release.
4. Isolate this movement so that your upper body is still and just your back hip/leg moves.
5. Repeat 10 times.
6. Hold the last repetition for 10 seconds.
7. Repeat this sequence with your right leg.
4. Pelvic Tilt to stretch the lower back and alleviate lower back discomfort (hello, long summer car rides!) while it engages the length of the entire back, including the mid- and upper-back muscles. It also helps to strengthen the abdominal wall. This exercise helps to lift and strengthen the gluteals and hamstrings.
1. Lie flat on your back; bend your knees, making a 90-degree angle.
2. Your legs should be hip-width apart and parallel.
3. Place your feet flat on the floor facing forward.
4. Place your extended arms below your shoulders with your palms down about a foot (30.5 cm) outside your hips.
5. Keep your shoulders down and the back of your head resting on the mat.
6. Press your lower back into the mat.
7. Then do a very slight tilt up of your tailbone and engage your abdominals.
8. Release the tilt down.
9. Repeat the tilt up and down 30 times.
Want more barre moves you can do anywhere? Check out the Barre Fitness book, by exhale founders and the ultimate barre experts, Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp, here.