10 Moves to Give You a Toned Physique Like a Ballet Dancer

A woman sitting on the ground tying her shoes. Wylde Grey 10 Moves to Give You a Toned Physique Like a Ballet Dancer

Ballerinas have a way of carrying themselves with grace, strength, and confidence. Their training not only teaches them poise but also works their bodies in a way that creates long and lean muscles.

Ready to get started? Here are 10 total-body exercises to get you a toned physique like a ballet dancer’s.

Plié in First Position

This is the same exercise as the first position plié, however, you will be standing in what ballerinas call the second position. You will also perform both the demi plié and the grand plié (pictured above) in this sequence.

  • Stand in second position, with your feet hip-distance apart and your toes turned out.
  • Perform the demi plié, in which you go halfway down.
  • Return to standing.
  • To perform the grand plié, bring your pelvis in line with your knees. Your heels should stay on the ground.
  • Perform three demi pliés followed by one grand plié. Repeat this sequence for three to five sets. 

Jeté 

“This will ignite your inner thighs,†says Cavaco, who explains that “jeté†means “to throw.â€

  • Start in fifth position, with both feet turned out and one in front of the other. Your front foot’s heel should touch the back foot’s toe.
  • Your outside leg will go out to the side at 45 degrees and then close in fifth position, with this leg in the back instead of the front.
  • Continue doing this movement, alternating front and back.
  • Repeat on the other leg.
  • Do as many repetitions as you can for one minute.

“Make sure that both legs stay as straight as possible the entire time,†says Cavaco.

Leg Circles 

This exercise strengthens and sculpts your abdominal muscles. The bigger the circle, the more challenging it will be! 

  • Sit tall on your sitz bones (the bony part of your pelvis), and lean back onto your hands behind you.
  • Bring your legs up to tabletop and have them glued together.
  • Circle your legs around, starting to the right.
  • Do this 15 times, then repeat to the left.

Bridging

Bridging helps lift and strengthen your bum as it works your gluteus muscles, hamstrings, and even your core.

  • Lay on the ground, with your head facing toward the ceiling.
  • Place your feet hip-distance apart, with your knees pointing to the ceiling.
  • Engage your lower abdominals, and start the movement by tucking your pelvis.
  • Slowly roll up into a high bridge, lifting each vertebra in your back one by one.
  • When you reach the top, hold for a moment, and slowly reverse down. Make sure that your hips are even throughout the exercise.
  • Perform 20–40 reps.

Standing Obliques 

This exercise tones and sculpts your oblique muscles, which are your side abdominal muscles. “Try not to let momentum take you up, and instead let it be driven by your muscles,†says Cavaco.

  • Stand up, feet hip-distance apart. Make sure your shoulders, hips, and feet are all in the same line.
  • Put your hands over your head.
  • Lean to the right, and use your left oblique to slowly bring yourself back up.
  • Repeat 20–30 times on each side.

Ballet Arms 

You know how ballerinas have such beautiful arms? It is partly due to this move, which also strengthens your shoulder and back muscles.

  • Standing hip-distance apart, open your arms to your sides. Make sure your elbows are lifted and your forearms are curved in slightly.
  • Using your lats and back muscles, bring your arms together in front of you. Imagine that you are hugging a tree.
  • Reverse your arms back out.
  • Make sure not to let your elbows drop and to keep your arms at shoulder height throughout the entire exercise.
  • Repeat this move for 30 seconds to one minute.

Plank With Hip Dips 

This exercise strengthens and tones your midsection, giving you that lean and graceful look of a ballerina.

  • Start in a plank position, with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Try to keep your body as long and straight as possible, from your head to your toes. Make sure your bottom isn’t sticking up.
  • Engage your lower abdominals, and shift your hips to one side. Come back to the middle, and then shift them to the other side.
  • Lift your shoulders up and out throughout the entire exercise.
  • Repeat 15 hip dips on each side.

Inner-Thigh Lifts 

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This thigh-lift exercise will strengthen and tone your inner-thigh muscles for strong and sculpted dancer’s legs.

  • Lie down on your side, and take your top leg and bring it over onto the floor in front of you.
  • Flex your bottom foot, lift it up about seven inches, and then lower it back down.
  • Lift it high enough so you are feeling your muscle work. If you aren’t feeling it, you aren’t lifting your leg high enough.
  • Perform 30–40 reps on each side.

The Swan 

“The goal here is to look like a beautiful swan,†says Cavaco. “Let your arms be engaged, but not stiff.â€

  • Stand hip-distance apart, with your hands by your hips.
  • Let your elbows lead your arms as they travel up above your head and then come back down.
  • Make sure not to let your shoulders creep up toward your ears, and avoid any tension in your head, neck, or chest.
  • Repeat this move for 30 seconds to one minute.