Exercise Routines Based on the Basics of Ballet

Ballet exercises utilize normal movements like bending, turning and reaching, but with a sense of control. This control helps develop your strength, improves your posture and helps you add grace to your everyday motions. Ballet exercises can give you a complete workout regardless of your age. It is helpful to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing to execute these exercises.

Knee Hugs

This exercise helps improve your balance and posture. It also brings flexibility to your hips. To do this exercise, lift and bend your right knee in toward your chest by placing your hands underneath your right leg. Make sure you feel a stretch in your thighs. Then release the leg slowly and switch sides to lift the left leg in toward your chest. This is one repetition. Try to do 10 repetitions for one set. Do three sets of this exercise three times per week to ensure your safety and to get the best results.


Plies comprise the foundation of basic ballet exercise routines. Plies are a variation of a squat and can be done with your feet in different positions, like first (with your feet connected at the heels, creating a “V” shape) or in second position (with your feet separated shoulder-width and your toes pointed out).

To do a plie in first position, keep your head high, your chest lifted and your neck long. Start to squat down while keeping your legs turned outward, with your knees facing out. Continue squatting, allowing your knees to extend past your toes and your heels to lift from the floor, until you can’t squat any lower. You can hold onto a ballet barre in a dance studio, a wall, countertop or sturdy chair to ensure your balance.

To return to the starting position, use your thighs and abdominal muscles to help you lift your body back to first position. It helps to gaze directly in front of you without averting your eyes when coming to stand. Repeat this exercise 10 times for one set. Do three sets three times per week to ensure your safety and to ensure an optimal outcome.


Releves help develop strength in your knees, calves and thigh muscles. To do a releve, rise to the balls of your feet while keeping your legs straight. Stretch your left arm up, moving it to the side slightly. Lower your arm to the side while you bring your feet to the ground. You can hold onto a barre, countertop, wall or sturdy chair for balance. Repeat this on the other side of your body for one full repetition. Do two sets of 10 repetitions three times per week for optimal results.

Leg Lifts

This exercise helps develop flexibility and strength in your legs. To do this exercise, brush your left foot forward and off the ground, pointing your toe toward the floor. Try to bring your foot and leg about a foot above the ground. Hold onto a barre, sturdy chair, countertop or the wall for balance. Do between 10 to 15 leg lifts toward the front, back and sides three times per week for the best results.

About this Author

Ripa Ajmera has been writing for six years. She has written for ABCNews.com, General Nutrition Center (GNC), TCW Finance, Alliance for a New Humanity, Washington Square News and more. She was a Catherine B. Reynolds Scholar from 2006-2008 and graduated from New York University Stern School of Business with an Honors degree in Marketing.