Ballet Upper Body Routine

May 19, 2014
Ballet Upper Body Routine

It’s time to have a little fun with our festive Ballet Upper Body Routine.


It’s easy to feel that ballet workouts primarily target the legs–after all, we hear so much about those lovely dancer’s legs–and if you tried either Beginner or Intermediate Ballet Leg Routine, you were probably feeling it in your quads and calves the next morning (part of the point, I suppose :)). That being said, you may have noticed that your arms were a little achy from resisting gravity the entire time!

Yes, legs aren’t everything in ballet! Having a strong core and toned upper body make standing (and sitting) with beautiful poise almost effortless. (As we’re constantly told–maintaining good posture makes us look younger, thinner, happier, etc…plus–it’s good for your health!)

In this 10-minute routine, we’re going to focus on our arms, back, and core while giving the legs a little action, too. As always, keep your body in straight alignment (shoulders over your hips) and your core engaged. Be sure to stretch between each exercise to help lengthen your muscles.

1. Standing Tricep Strokes

Ballet Upper Body Routine

1. Standing Tricep Strokes

Stand in first position and pull your shoulder blades back as if you’re squeezing a pencil between them.  Roll your shoulders back and hold your arms out just behind your hips.

Bend your arms only at the elbows then push your forearms back to straighten your arms again. Squeeze your triceps as you straighten your arms. Imagine paddling through a very small body of water.  Keep squeezing the center of your upper back. Repeat for 4 sets of 10 reps.

2.  Ballet Wings with Plié and Relevé

Ballet Upper Body Routine

2a. Ballet Wings with Plié

Ballet Upper Body Routine

2b. Ballet Wings with Relevé

Nothing–not even free-weights–have toned my arms like this exercise.  Imagine you’re a graceful bird slowly moving her large wings through the air.

Begin in first position. With your arms straight and slightly behind your hips, do a single plié (figure 2a).  As you raise into a relevé (figure 2b), lead with your elbows to lift your arms above your head. This short video may give you some inspiration. Keep the movement slow and under control. Complete 4 reps of 10 sets.


3.  Cross-body Twist

ballet-upper-body-cross-body-twist copy

3. Cross-body twist.

This exercise is muy festive–you may start feeling like a Rockette (probably not technically ballet but super glam :))! Begin in first position and hold your arms to the side, keeping them straight.* Raise one leg, bent at the knee, and use your core to pull it across your body.  Your legs and arms will get a workout from this exercise, but the focus is on your core–so keep squeezing! Alternate legs for 40 reps (20 each). *Alternatively, you may find that your arms want to move opposite the direction of your active leg–this is fine, too!


4. Side Passé/Standing Crunch

Ballet Upper Body Routine

4. Side Passé/ Standing Crunch

Begin in first position with fifth position arms (raised over your head). With open hips, raise one leg into a side passé–your knee will be facing to the side. With control, bend your upper body toward your raised knee (while keeping your shoulders facing forward). Squeeze your obliques (a.k.a. side abs).  You core will also help you balance.  Straighten your upper body and return your active leg to first position.  Repeat 20 times on each side.

Don’t forget to stretch :)!


Related: Intermediate Ballet Leg Routine

Beginner Ballet Leg Routine

Barre Dumbbell Exercises for All Over Toning



Photos: Mary Hood


Peaceful Dumpling Beauty Editor and creator of Bisou du Jour, Mary Hood Luttrell lives with her husband in Corpus Christi, Texas. Mary is a freelance writer and writing and blogging consultant. A lover of whole foods, Mary delights in learning new ways to prepare vegan dishes. Mary also enjoys reading and writing poetry, art journaling, running, and practicing yoga and ballet. Follow Mary on her blog Bisou du Jour, Instagram and Pinterest.


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