If you are among the many women who struggle with toning specific areas of your body, isometric ballet barre exercises may just be the answer. No, you don’t need to be a ballerina; you’re simply using the barre as an exercise aid. Isometric exercises are static exercises -- there’s no joint movement, you contract certain muscles and hold the position for a period of time. For an effective workout, perform isometric exercises to target your arms, butt, thighs and core.
Focus on your upper-arm muscles to begin your workout. To work your biceps, the muscles at the front of your upper arm, face the barre and grab it with an underhand grip, palms facing the ceiling. Keep your elbows close to your body, tighten your biceps and pull up on the barre. Hold the position, relax and repeat. Don't forget your triceps, the muscles at the back of your upper arm. Grab the barre with an overhand grip, palms facing the floor. Push down on the bar, tighten your triceps and hold the position. Relax and repeat.
Perform the second position of one of the most common ballet positions -- the plié. This isometric exercise works your calf, butt and thigh muscles. Face and stand a foot from the barre. Grab the barre for balance. Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes turned outward 45 degrees. Point your knees in the direction of your toes, lift your heels off the floor and lower your body until your thighs are near parallel to the floor. Tighten your butt, thigh and calf muscles and hold the position. Relax your muscles, return to the starting position and repeat.
Work your core muscles with a variation of the one-leg bridge exercise. Face and sit a couple feet away from the barre. Place your hands on the floor behind you with your fingers pointing backward. Keep your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor. Push with your hands and feet to lift your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. No sagging; keep your body in a straight line from your head to your knees. Tighten your core muscles, lift your right leg, rest the back of your right ankle on the barre and point your toes. Hold the position, relax, lower your butt back to the floor and repeat. After one set repeat with your left leg.
- If you don't have access to a ballet barre, use a heavy, sturdy chair.
- Hold each contraction for 10 to 15 seconds and perform two sets of 10 to 12 reps.
- Isometric exercises can increase blood pressure, according to Dr. Edward R. Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic. If you have high blood pressure or heart concerns, check with your doctor before doing isometric exercises.
- Avoid holding your breath during the exercises -- breathe with a controlled rhythm.
- Athletic Body in Balance; Gray Cook
- SheKnows: Thinner Thighs: 6 Moves to Leaner Legs
- MayoClinic.com: Are Isometric Exercises a Good Way to Build Strength?
- Medioimages/Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images
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