We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Dancing as a workout is nothing new — whether you’re doing Zumba or just jamming out to Beyoncé’s latest, it’s a fun way to break a sweat. And barre workouts truly take dance-inspired exercise to the next level.

From a stronger core to better posture to leaner legs, the benefits are numerous. And as more and more barre studios open across the country, more and more people flock to them, proving that this is one fitness trend that’s not going away any time soon.

girl with tattoos plays sports at home, doing squats during a barre workout header cropShare on Pinterest
Andrey Sayfutdinov/Getty Images

The downside: Classes can be pricey — we’re talking anywhere from $20 to $30 per sweat session. Yikes. That’ll make you sweaty before you even get into the studio.

The solution: This free yet seriously effective workout you can do at home from Sadie Lincoln, fitness expert and founder of Barre3.

The moves are exactly what you’d do in class, and all you need is a chair (a kitchen counter works too) — no tutus or tap shoes in sight.

Go through the warmup once, and then complete the workout, which takes about 15 minutes.

Starting small with your motion (part A) for each exercise will target the muscles and push them to fatigue, and layering on a larger range of motion (part B) will elevate your heart rate.

We’ll explain both A and B for some exercises to help you level up your workout.

The routine is killer on its own, but you can also do it twice in a row or at multiple times of the day to boost the afterburn effect.

See it done the right way.

Getting into the groove is important…

Sumo Cat/Cow

5 reps

Sumo Cat/Cows are a great way to warm up your spine, core, and lower body and superb for kicking off a barre workout.

  1. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip width and toes pointing to 1 and 11 o’clock.
  2. Draw hips behind you and toward the seat of an imaginary chair, keeping your weight in heels (make sure knees stay stacked over ankles).
  3. As you exhale, scoop core and round through spine.
  4. As you inhale, lift tailbone and slightly lift gaze forward.

Simple toe taps

60 reps (or 2 minutes)

This move warms up your muscles and gets your heart pumping while still being easy on your joints.

  1. Stand with feet wide and toes pointing to 10 and 2 o’clock.
  2. Bend your knees and hold the position, making sure spine is long, hips are square, and feet are rooted to the floor.
  3. Straighten your legs, lean to the right, and tap left toe. Bend your knees through the center, lean to the left, tap right toe, and lift arms.
  4. Continue, lowering arms as you tap left toe.

(Find out a little more about the benefits of the barre workout.)

Crescent Lunge: Scoop and reach

5 reps per side

Nope, it’s not an analogy for ice cream consumption. This active stretch opens your hips and upper body while heating your lower body.

  1. Step right foot behind you. Bend left knee and hold the position, keeping left knee directly over ankle.
  2. Reach back through right heel and extend right leg as far as you can. Interlace fingers and lift arms over your head as you inhale.
  3. As you exhale, bend right knee toward the floor, round through your upper back, and push palms down and forward.
  4. Inhale and return to the starting position.

Flat back folder with knee pedals

15 reps

This move opens up the backs of your legs as well as your outer hips and illotibial (IT) band.

  1. Place palms on a chair (or another waist-high surface, like a kitchen counter) and step feet back behind you.
  2. Bend knees slightly, lean your torso forward, and hold. Exhale, bend right knee, and lift left hip up toward the ceiling.
  3. Inhale through the center.
  4. Repeat on the other side to complete 1 rep.

Raise the barre for yourself.

Sumo squat

A. 30 reps (or 1 minute) B. 15 reps (or 1 minute)

This move targets the fronts of your legs, your hamstrings, and your seat muscles — it’s functional training at its best.

  1. Step feet out slightly wider than hips.
  2. Reach tailbone back, as if you’re sitting in a chair. Keep belly drawn in, spine long, and shoulders wide.
  3. Hold for 5 deep breaths.

Step 4 is where you can mix it up:

  • A: Bring palms to your heart center as you lean back into heels and lower by 1 inch. Press into heels, then lift 1 inch.
  • B: Adding a larger range of motion, press into your feet and lift up to a standing position, drawing palms to your sides.

Return to squatting position and get ready for your next rep. Phew.

Narrow V

A. 30 reps (or 1 minute) B. 15 reps (or 1 minute)

This pose shapes your entire leg, especially your inner and outer thighs.

  1. Draw heels together and turn your legs out so toes are about 4 inches apart in a narrow “V” position.
  2. Keeping shoulders stacked over hips, bend knees into a narrow plié.
  3. Press heels firmly together as you hover them slightly off the floor, coming onto the balls of your feet.
  4. Rest one hand on the chair for balance or bring palms together in prayer position for a balance challenge.
  5. Hold for 5 deep breaths.

Here come the variations:

  • A: Keeping your range small and controlled, lower 1 inch deeper into your plié, then lift 1 inch.
  • B: Increasing your range of motion, drop your seat toward your heels, then lift all the way up and squeeze inner thighs together.

Carousel horse

A. 30 reps (or 1 minute) B. 15 reps (or 1 minute)

This simple move effectively targets a bunch of muscles in your lower body, and it’s a great balance challenge to train your core and reinforce good posture. Who cares what the neighsayers think?

  1. Stand with feet parallel and hip-width apart and place your palms on the chair.
  2. Step right foot back, bend both knees slightly into a lunge, and hold.
  3. Stack left knee directly over ankle while right knee bends toward the floor and stays under your hip.
  4. Press left foot and the ball of right foot down evenly into the floor. Keep hips level and square, core engaged, and shoulders stacked over hips.
  5. Hold for 5 deep breaths.

Aaaaaand the variations…

  • A: Drop right knee down 1 inch. Push into left heel and lift up 1 inch, making sure left knee stays stacked over ankle the entire time.
  • B: Adding on a larger range of motion, drop right knee toward the floor until you find your edge. Push into left heel and lift all the way up until legs are almost straight. Repeat entire exercise, stepping left leg back.

Here’s how to decode fitness lingo and make barre classes less confusing.

Horse Pose

A. 30 reps (or 1 minute) B. 15 reps (or 1 minute)

Inspired by ballet, this graceful pose works your inner and outer thighs and outer seat muscles.

  1. Take a wide step out from the chair, pointing your toes to 2 and 10 o’clock.
  2. Bend knees and slide down an imaginary wall.
  3. Stack shoulders over hips and engage your core.
  4. Hold for 5 deep breaths.

Here, it’s time to give yourself those variations:

  • A: Lower your seat down 1 inch. Press into your feet and lift up by the same amount.
  • B: Adding on a larger range of motion, plié down, letting right arm sweep down to your side.

To complete the rep, press into left foot and rebound up, sweeping right arm over your head and lifting right leg out to the side as you lengthen through the right side of your body.

This should give you a balletic lean over the chair.

Standing seat work

30 reps per leg

Standing seat work seems like a weird contradiction in terms, but this move helps improve your balance and shape the backs of your legs, your seat, and your core. Nice.

  1. Place your hands on the chair.
  2. Sweep right foot back behind hip, lifting it a few inches off the floor, until you feel your seat engage. Once you’re there, hold.
  3. Press into left foot, then lift up and out through right hip.
  4. Engage core and lift up through your spine.
  5. Lift your leg up 1 inch and lower it 1 inch.
  6. Repeat, lifting your left leg this time.

Sliders can do amazing things for your core (and no, we’re not talking about the mini burgers). We’ve got 31 slider exercises that prove our point.

Power leg

30 reps

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this posture. Your quads will feel the burn.

  1. Facing the chair, lift heels, bend knees, and hold.
  2. Pressing evenly through all 10 toes, keep knees in line with the middle of your toes. Be sure to maintain level and square hips and keep core firm.
  3. Lengthen through spine, then relax your shoulders down your back. Bend knees until you find a challenging position.
  4. Lift hips 1 inch, then lower back into the original position.

Learn about the afterburn effect of exercise.

Plank with core hold

30 seconds per side

Taking a traditional plank and adding a hold will heat your entire body and strengthen your core.

  1. Start in a high plank position, engaging your thighs.
  2. As you exhale, draw right knee toward chest and round your back. (Make sure you’re still pressing through your hands.)
  3. Lift your abdominals toward your lower back.
  4. Hold this position.
  5. Repeat with left leg.

Here are some more boss planks for you to try.

Boat Pose

30 seconds

This posture will bring out your inner dancer while challenging your entire core.

  1. Sit tall on the floor with hands behind thighs.
  2. Draw your legs into a tabletop position. As you exhale, firm your core and reach arms out into a wide “V.” Hips should be heavy on the floor while spine stays long and lifted, and your core should be firm and pull toward your lower back, with your shoulders wide.
  3. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

Want to take it to the next level? Straighten and extend those legs. Sheesh.

Barre workouts might look simple, but tell that to the sweat running down your forehead at the end. You’re getting a deep workout of some surprising muscles.

You don’t need to shell out for an expensive in-studio barre session when you have a chair at home.

Another powerful tool for at-home workouts is the resistance band — why not check out our resistance band workouts here?

Thanks to our model, Tori Schelling, an instructor at Barre3 in New York City, and our friends at Lululemon for outfitting her!