You Can Do This 20-Minute Barre Workout at Home With Just a Chair

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All you need is a chair for this at-home barre workout (and maybe a rockin' playlist).
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If you've been missing your regular barre class with your girlfriends, this workout can help with part of that equation (Zoom can help with the friends part). You'll combine the graceful movements of ballet, yoga and Pilates while challenging your entire body with high reps of small movements.

These 10 exercises will define, lift, lengthen and tone those hard-to-sculpt areas without any workout equipment. Grab a chair (or the back of a couch), cue your favorite workout playlist, channel your inner ballerina and get ready to sweat!

Curious exactly how many calories you burn during your workouts? Download the MyPlate app for a more accurate and customized estimate.

Do: each move for 1 minute, then repeat the circuit once more

1. Side Leg Swings

This barre move targets your outer thighs and glutes.
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Your outer thighs and glutes will definitely feel the burn on this one! But that's exactly what you need to sculpt those long, lean dancer's legs.

  1. Hold on to a chair, the wall or the back of a couch for balance.
  2. Slowly swing your left leg out to the side as high as it can comfortably raise
  3. Slowly lower, turning your foot so that your toe is pointed toward the ground. You should feel the burn in both legs (the standing leg quad and the outer glute in your swinging leg).
  4. Keep your back straight, your ribs tucked in and your tailbone tucked under.

2. Small V

Movements don't have to be big to be effective.
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Get ready to work every part of your thigh. This move is foundational to barre, says Barre Evolution instructor Jess Amoroso. "I love the way I can focus on my balance and get really low into a deep, controlled shake."

  1. Face the back of a chair and hold on with both hands. Stand with your feet pointed in a "V" shape (heels together, toes out).
  2. Keeping your upper body straight, bring your heels a couple of inches off the floor.
  3. Roll your hips forward, and then tuck them back to the starting position.

Tip

Find your “neutral spine,” so that your back is straight and you’re not leaning into the barre (or chair, in this case).

3. Parallel Plié Pulse

Plies will channel your inner ballerina.
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The small pulses in this exercise may not seem very difficult at first, but your legs will definitely be shaking by the end. Hang in there! Tough workouts will break you out of your comfort zone and be worth it in the end.

  1. Stand facing a chair and lift your heels off the ground.
  2. While keeping your knees pressed together, bend your knees into a squat while tucking your tailbone under you.
  3. Press through your toes and come back up just an inch. Ensure that your shoulders are back, your core is engaged and your knees don't go past your toes.

Tip

Focus on your breath being controlled — in through your nose and out through your mouth.

4. Arabesque and Attitude

This move is graceful but challenging.
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Don't let the beauty and grace of this move fool you. It's tough! But if you keep at it, over time you'll develop gracefulness in addition to strength.

  1. Place both hands on the back of a chair, squaring your shoulders with the chair.
  2. Arabesque: Engage your core and turn your feet out (dancers call this first position). Lift your right leg back behind you and pulse, keeping your chest up.
  3. Attitude: Turn your leg out, raise onto the ball of your left foot and lift your leg with your knee bent.
  4. Do 15 seconds on each leg of each move.

Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.

5. Standing Hip Extension

Small movements add up to big burn.
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If there's one barre move that's sure to sculpt a better-looking booty, this is it! Again, barre is all about tiny movements and pushing the endurance of some of your lesser-used and smaller muscles.

  1. Stand with your knees together, hips square to the back of a chair, with a neutral pelvis and core engaged and pulled up.
  2. Bend your right knee so that your foot is behind you and your leg is lifted away from your body.
  3. Hold for one second and slowly lift and lower your leg a few inches in tiny pulses.

6. Triceps Dips

Holding your leg out at an angle recruits more abdominal muscle.
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Give your lower body a bit of a break and target the backs of your arms. There are tons of ways to do triceps dips, but this one doesn't require any equipment.

  1. Start seated on the floor and place your hands behind your body, bending at the elbows. Your fingertips should point toward your feet, and your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor.
  2. Push through your hands and feet to raise your butt off the floor.
  3. Now extend your right leg out at a 45-degree angle.
  4. Dip your elbows quickly, pulsing 20 times while tightening your seat and core.

7. Legs-Raised Sit-Up

You can bend your knees if your legs won't stay straight up in the air.
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Arms and legs shaking yet? Let's get those abs burning too!

  1. Start lying on your back with your arms extended over your head. Bring your legs straight up over your hips, so that your legs are perpendicular to the floor.
  2. Crunch up with your hands behind your head. Make small pulses instead of trying to crunch all the way up.

Tip

Don’t use your lower back to assist you, but instead isolate your abs.

8. Side-Lying Leg Lifts

Target your gluteus medius while lying down.
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You might be lying down, but this is no easy move! You'll continue to target your hip flexors and gluteus medius (basically, the side of your butt and hips).

  1. Lying on your right side, bend both knees and stack them on top of each other.
  2. Lift the top leg several inches, and then pulse for 30 seconds. Ensure that your back is straight and your shoulders are not leaning forward.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

9. Stork

For an added challenge, do this move without the chair.
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  1. Stand with your chair at your side and your inside leg lifted behind your body. Reach your outside arm overhead with the palm facing inward.
  2. Hold on to the chair with your other hand and hinge your body forward from your hips, lifting your leg up higher (you should be in a T position). Reach your arm to the ground.
  3. Go back to the T position, and then lift to the starting position.

10. Curtsy

By not coming all the way up, you increase your time under tension, meaning you'll feel the burn faster.
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What better way to signal the end of your dance-inspired workout than with a curtsy? "I love curtsy because it works multiple angles of the thighs at the same time — inner, outer and quads," says Nancy Meyer, owner and co-founder of Barre Evolution.

  1. Start standing with one foot in front of you and the other behind.
  2. Bend both legs outward, as if you were curtsying.
  3. Hold for three seconds, and then do small pulses for 20 seconds.
  4. Don't let the front knee go over your toes, but instead stay over the ankle. Make sure your tailbone is tucked under and your core is fully engaged.

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