How to Strengthen the Legs & Ankles for Ballet

You need sturdy ankles to dance en pointe.

You need sturdy ankles to dance en pointe.

It doesn’t take an expert to understand that ballet dancers need strong legs and ankles to execute their required spins and leaps, or to dance en pointe -- literally on the tips of their toes. Whether you’re a performer, or you use ballet for exercise, firming up your lower body will improve your moves. As a bonus, you’ll look better in tights and short skirts -- on the dance floor or off.

Calf Raise and Leg Extension

Stand next to a chair, or a similar sturdy object. Turn your right shoulder to the chair and stand with your feet together.

Bend your left knee and raise your left foot in front of your right ankle and lower shin. At the same time, extend your left arm directly to the side. Hold the chair with your right hand, if necessary, to maintain your balance. This is your starting position.

Flex your right ankle and rise onto the ball of your foot, while simultaneously extending your left foot forward as far as you comfortably can. Pause briefly with your leg extended, then move back into the starting position. Perform eight to 12 reps with each leg.

Ankle Flex

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Place the middle of a straight resistance band beneath the ball of one foot and hold one end of the band in each hand.

Pull the band taut, sit up with your back straight, then gradually flex your ankle and point your toes away from your body. Keep your hands still to maintain the band’s resistance.

Perform 32 repetitions with each foot.


Sit erect on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.

Rotate each ankle outward 32 times. Rotate your right ankle clockwise and your left ankle counterclockwise. Point your toes toward the floor when they’re moving downward.

Perform 32 inward rotations, rotating your right ankle counterclockwise and your left ankle clockwise.

Items you will need

  • Resistance band


  • Stop any movement that causes you pain.
  • Don't hesitate to hold onto a chair or similar object in any exercise that may throw you off balance. It's better to develop your balance over time than to fall and injure yourself.

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About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

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