Swap your squats for pliés and give these strength-boosting exercises a whirl.
Ask anyone who’s ever done an Xtend Barre class and they’ll tell you it’s one of the most intense workouts they’ve (and you’ll!) ever do. Mixing elements of ballet, weights training and Pilates, this unique fusion workout targets muscles you didn’t know you had – and makes you hurt in places you didn’t know could.
In fact, you’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve by just using your own body weight as your training machine. Along with all our major muscle groups, these exercises will target your smaller supporting, often forgotten, muscles and get them firing, which can boost your performance when it comes to other forms of exercise, including strength training and cardio.
Keen? Give these a go…
Second position plié
At Xtend Barre we don’t squat – we plié.
- In your natural turnout, step wide to a second position.
- Rise up on to the balls of your feet.
- Keeping your heels high and spreading all toes across the floor, bend your knees to sit in to a deep plié.
- Stretch your legs to come back to the high relevé position. Repeat the bend and stretch action eight to 16 times.
- Hold the last plié and perform eight to 16 pulses, then lower and lift heels eight to 16 times and then hold your position in deep second position plié for eight counts.
Pliés are great for your thighs, butt and core.
The biggest correction we make in this technique for our guests that have done lots of personal training is changing the angle of their torso as they plié. In your plié, think of keeping your spine long in its neutral position with your chest and eyeline facing straight ahead to the opposite wall as you bend your knees.
We want your hip angle to be more open and make sure you don’t hinge forward.
Your knees should not feel any pain. If you have knees that aren’t ready for big moves yet, keep your heels down and work within a range that feels good for your body.
Modify this exercise by keeping your heels down and making the depth of your plié smaller.
Advance this exercise by doing one set with a plié then into a jump.
- Stand close to the barre and relevé (rise up on balls of feet), make sure you have firm hold of a barre or handrail.
- Bend your knees to sit back like you are sitting in a chair. Your arms should be straight, and shoulders anchored as you sit in to the plié.
- Return to standing position. Repeat eight times.
- On the final repetition hold the chair plié for eight counts, followed by right to 16 small plié pulses (pulses should only be two to four cms deep). Perform one final hold of eight counts. Return to standing position and take a quad stretch.
Chair pliés are perfect for really isolating the challenge to your quads. This exercise is guaranteed to tone and sculpt long and lean thighs, however, it must be done with precise technique. Each and every move should be done with lots of focus and discipline over your body. It’s important to keep your heels together as well as your knees and thighs. Imagine squeezing everything in to your centre line. Remember your core always helps you, so keep your tummy engaged, spine long and chest proud.
Tip: don’t worry if you shake a bit in this one. It’s a classic exercise in Xtend Barre class where even the strongest of guests will get a little tremor in their body.
This is an advanced exercise and should not be attempted until you can do chair pliés well.
- Bend one knee behind you, lining it up with the other knee as your start and finish position. Keep a soft bend in the supporting knee for your start and finish position.
- Sit your body weight back making a strong angle behind the front knee while thinking of pressing the wall with your back foot.
- Squeeze your glute and press through the supporting heel as you bring yourself back up to standing position.
- Repeat series eight to 16 times.
- When you feel strong enough hold last repetition, perform eight small plié pulses. Then with your leg behind you perform eight small presses, think of pressing your foot towards the wall behind you.
Standing side kick
- Facing side to the barre, flex upper body towards the barre to rest your forearm on the barre. Reach your other arm over your head to a high fifth position. Stretch your leg to the side and point your foot.
- Lift your leg to as far as you can while keeping your core strong and the underneath side of your waist lifted. Imagine reaching out to go up.
- Lower your leg back to the floor. Repeat the lift and lower for eight to 16 reps.
- Hold the last repetition in the air and pulse your leg up for eight reps.
Repeat on other side.
To modify this exercise, keep your leg in a lower position.
To advance this exercise, add eight small circles in each direction with your leg and eight small kicks forward and back holding height of last repetition.
Tip: Your mind will let you down before your body, so trust yourself. Your favourite tunes on the radio or iPod will help get you through that extra challenging set and working out with a friend is also a great way to keep motivated and be accountable for showing up every day to workout.
Rockell Williamson-Rudder started her professional entertainment career at the Moulin Rouge in Paris and has performed on stages around the world. Today Rockell is a fitness entrepreneur, mother of three, lifestyle and wellness speaker. Rockell brought the Xtend Barre workout to Australia.
February 23, 201712:32pm