Try this lower body- focused sequence and strengthen your legs in a balanced and efficient way.
If the first and last exercise that comes to your mind in relation to glutes strength is a Squat, keep on reading. 🏋️♂️
There is much more you can do to address all the muscles in that area (to be precise, gluteus maximus, medius and minimus) and Barre offers you plenty of opportunities to move your thighs in different directions and in relation to gravity to make sure you activate them all.
If Barre is new to you, here is a quick intro: a full body workout that blends Ballet moves with core strengthening and muscle building exercises inspired by Pilates and resistance training.
With its roots in Ballet, Barre is wonderful to improve your posture and quality of movement: in each position you are reminded of creating length in your body, especially in your spine, and to move with precision and attention to the small details.
This standing sequence only requires a little bit of space and a chair or a sturdy piece of furniture, and will help you improve your hips range of motion and create more stability in your pelvis.
After the first exercise, you can practice the others all on the first side, then on the second one, or if you are just getting started you can alternate legs to keep the work a little lighter.
1️⃣ Wide second: This is the Barre version of Ballet grand plié a la seconde. How to do it: Step your feet wide and turn your thighbones outwards, allowing your toes to point in the same direction of your knees. Bend your knees until you can comfortably maintain your tailbone pointing downwards and your spine in neutral. Gently wrap your knees backwards 20 times to create even more space in your groin area and strength in your glutes, then reset with straight legs and repeat one more time, perhaps dropping your pelvis deeper to intensify the sensations.
2️⃣ Standing pretzel: One of the most iconic (and complex) Barre positions. How to do it: profile to the barre, place one forearm on top of it and step slightly away aligning your shoulder with your elbow (imagine you are doing a side plank at the barre). Bend your knees and turn both feet 45 degrees towards the barre. Lengthen the external leg sideways away from the barre and lift it maintaining your spine neutral and your hips one on top of the other. Then bend the lifted leg and press it behind you (ideally you can feel some stretch in the front of your hips) without arching your back. Finally lift your foot a little higher than the knee, creating an internal rotation. Now lift your leg one inch and lower it one inch, always trying and maintaining the same shape and keeping stability in your torso. After 30 repetitions, reset and repeat one more time.
3️⃣ Standing pretzel full range: How to do it: From the previous set up, straighten your leg, then lower it with a light tap of the toes on the floor and lift it back up to the same level. If you wish to add a movement for the upper body, when your leg is low you can lengthen your arm towards the barre, when your leg is lifted, you can enhance the abdominal connection with a gentle squeeze of your obliques moving your arm and chest towards the leg.
4️⃣ Forearm foldover: How to do it: facing the barre, place your arms in cossack position (forearm over forearm), bend your knees and step away from the barre until your spine is inclined but still in neutral. Plug your shoulder blades downwards, draw your abdominals in and up, and lift one of your legs behind you without losing the neutral placement of your pelvis. Flex your lifted foot and squeeze it towards your sit bones, like in a hamstring curl. Now add small repetitive squeezes (imagine you have a sponge behind your knee) for 20 times, then small presses of your foot up towards the ceiling, always maintaining complete stillness in the rest of your body, again for 20 times. Repeat one more time the same sequence of squeezes and presses.
5️⃣ Low arabesque. This is the Barre version of Ballet arabesque. How to do it: lightly rest both hands on your barre and slightly step away from it. Start with your feet in a small V position, with your heels together and toes slightly apart, then lengthen one leg behind you maintaining the external rotation, as you gently shift your torso forward. Your toes are pointed, your low abdominals engaged. Lengthen your leg even more and lift it, without overly arching your back, imagining you are connecting your lifted heel with the opposite shoulder, so you can more easily maintain your leg directly behind your hip. Now make 20 small circles with your straight leg clockwise and 20 anti-clockwise, keeping your hips completely still. Reset if needed and repeat one more time.
Looking forward to seeing you on the mat!