Ridiculously easy at-home exercises that will trim your waist, tighten your abs and tone your arse

No excuses.

Welcome to our Marie Claire Masters series, a regular beauty franchise that celebrates and utilizes the expertise of women who are bossing it in their fields. Each month these Masters will educate, demonstrate and impart some of their industry wisdom to you the dedicated Marie Claire reader. From current trends and hot topics to how tos and how not tos, these beauty whizz kids are at our beckon call. So get reading, you never know what you tips you might pick up. KT – Digital Beauty Editor

 

I’m Catie Miller, owner and founder of Xtend Barre’s London flagship studio, where we offer classes that combine dance, ballet and Pilates. I understand that not everyone has the time or money to attend regular exercise classes, and so in my new role as the Marie Claire Fitness Master, each month I will creating simple at home exercises based on the workouts at Xtend Barre.

These exercises are designed to sculpt your muscles through dynamic stretching and increase your heart rate for that cardio burn. You can do these workout moves anywhere, anytime. All you need is a chair and a set of ½ kilo dumbbells (if you don’t have any, use two 50cl water bottles). Start working on three exercises, then work up and combine the six for a longer dynamic workout.

At home exercises

The basic positions

Within the sequences, I mention various ballet positions. Don’t worry if you don’t know them, previous dance experience isn’t needed. Here are the basic positions…

at home exercises

First exercise: Knee Lifts

Muscle Focus: Hamstrings/quadriceps/lower abdominals

Step 1:

Standing center of the floor, feet hip width distance apart and arms out in front in 1st position with dumbbells in hand. Brush the right leg out in front of you bringing the thigh towards your chest, not the chest to the leg. Keeping the back straight and arms strong continue this movement alternating leg lifts with fluidity and strength. (8 reps for each set—up to 2 sets).

at home exercises

 

Step 2: Make it a bit harder

Continue the leg lifts for another 2 sets with added arm movements to challenge the core. Swing opposite arms to legs. Arms should move in a controlled swing reaching to the sky and to the floor.

at home exercises

 

Step 3: Cardio challenge

Add a little hop with each leg lift and swing. I love to make hearts race.

at home exercises

 

Second exercise: Curtsy Plies

Muscle Focus: hamstrings/quadriceps/core

Step 1:

Standing centre of the floor with your legs open to a wide 2nd position. Make sure feet are turned out and the arms are stretched out to the side from the shoulders. Step one leg from 2nd to curtsy (cross foot behind), plié down in each position. The working leg is moving as the supporting leg is still. Arms open from 2nd (when the legs are in 2nd) and 1st (when the legs are in curtsy). 8-16 reps

at home exercises

 

Step 2: Make it a bit harder

Continue for another 8-16 reps. Curtsy the right leg as the right arm reaches towards the floor and the left arm extends up at a high diagonal. Step right foot to tendu side as arms come back to 1st.

Tip: Keep a proud chest, square shoulders and hips and even placement between both feet.

at home exercises

 

Step 3: Cardio challenge

To finish take your curtsy straight to a passé adding a hop at the top before you place it back down into curtsy. Feel the hamstring and quadriceps burn.

at home exercises

Third exercise: Hug and Carriage

Muscle Focus: deltoids and pectoralis major (with advancement quadriceps)

Step 1:

Standing center of the floor begin with your feet in 1st position (heels together, toes turned out) with a soft bend at the knees and arms in 1st position. Begin with arms in front of body (1st), step legs and arms to 2nd, close legs and arms to 1st, step again to 2nd. 8 reps in each direction.

at home exercises

Step 2: Make it harder

Repeat the above but on the last one, extend your inside leg to tendu and sweep arms through 2nd to high 5th. 8-16 reps each direction.

at home exercises

Step 3: Cardio challenge

Continue with the hug and carriage movement for another 8-16 reps adding in a little hop as you take the leg out to tendu.

Tips: Maintain soft knees throughout series. Move gracefully with control and resistance. Remember to pull your abs in and up.

at home exercises

 

Fourth exercise: Tricep Kick Backs

Muscle Focus: Triceps w/ lower body stabilisation

Step 1:

Square off the hips and shoulders. Reaching both arms above the hips with your palms facing each other, bend/extend the arms, keep the elbow lifted. The bend is small, concentrate on extending the arms to engage the triceps fully. 8-16 reps.

at home exercise

Step 2: Make it harder

Add a lunge when you bend the arms and straighten the legs when you extend the arms. 8-16 reps.

at home exercises

Step 3: Cardio challenge

Continue with the lunge/tricep kick-backs and add a kick of the back leg off the floor. Think about extending the leg longer, not higher to activate your core and glutes for an added burn. Hold the leg and arms off the floor for your final balance.

at home exercises

Tip: Try all 3 levels back to back to increase the heart rate. Try slowing it down or pick up the tempo!

Exercise 5: Xtend Teaser

Muscle Focus: Abdominals, shoulders

Step 1:

Begin seated on your mat. Reach arms out behind your body on the mat. Draw knees in to balance on tailbone. Draw one leg to table top and then alternate to the other leg focusing on lifting through the spine and the abdominals to balance. 8-16 reps.

at home exercises

Step 2: Make it harder

Add the opposite arm lift to challenge the core and balance. Alternate to the other side fluidly. 8-16 reps.

at home exercises

Step 3: Cardio challenge

Lift both legs and arms at the same time reaching to a teaser position. 8-16 reps. Hold at the top for your final balance lifting through the crown of the head, lengthening the spine and drawing the abdominals in. 8-16 counts.

at home exercises

Tips: Focus on lifting through the chest and drawing the shoulders down!

Exercise 6: Plank

Muscle Focus: Core, Hip Extendors

Step 1:

Begin with legs together in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Hold your plank for 8-16 counts.

at home exercises

Step 2: Make it harder

Continue holding your plank and add a passé with the leg to focus on core strength and lower abdominal connection. Alternate leg passé. 8-16 reps

at home exercsies

Step 3: Cardio challenge

Continue alternating leg passé and pick up the tempo to a mountain climbing run. 8-16 reps.

Tips: Remember to focus on your core strength. Lower down to your forearms if you have any wrist injuries. Keep abdominals in and shoulders down.

Exercise 7: 2nd Position Plié

Muscle Focus: Quadriceps

Step 1:

Standing side on to your chair, open feet to a wide 2nd position. Plié into a deep 2nd position and hold at challenge zone as you press through the heels and engage abdominals muscles, extend the legs back up and squeeze the seat and hamstrings. Repeat 2 sets of 8.

at home exercises

Step 2: Make it harder

Add a releve at the top to create a balance hold and to challenge the core. Repeat 2 sets of 8.

at home exercises

Step 3: Cardio challenge

Continue with the plié to releve series adding a jump at the top and softly landing through the feet into a deep plié and repeat for 2 sets of 8.

*Repeat on the other side.

at home exercises

Tips: Try all 3 levels back to back to increase the heart rate. Try slowing it down or pick up the tempo!

Exercise 8: Pirouette Prep

Muscle Focus: Quadriceps/hamstrings

Step 1:

Begin at an angle turned slightly into your chair. Starting with your feet in 1st position draw your outside leg to passé. Plié deep into your supporting leg reaching your leg behind you towards the floor as you hinge forward and reach your arm overhead. Straighten the supporting leg as you draw the working leg into passé and your arm back to 1st position. Repeat for 2 sets of 8.

at home exercises

Step 2: Make it harder

Add a releve on supporting leg as you bring the working leg into passé. 8-16 reps

at home exercises

Step 3: Cardio challenge

Continue the advancement series and add a hop at the top landing softly through the working leg. Try all 3 levels back to back to increase the heart rate and work up that sweat!

***Repeat on the other side.

at home exercises

Tips: Focus on maintaining a neutral spine, especially as you extend both arm and leg.

Exercise 9: Back to Chair Battements

Muscle Focus: Quadriceps, improvement of hip flexors and stabilizing the seat muscles

Step 1:

Begin with feet in 1st position. Point 1 foot in front of the body. Lift it inch by inch to its fullest potential. Once you reach that height lower the leg back down with control bringing the feet back to 1st position. Keeping a nice flow, alternate lifting each leg up in the air and lower it back down to the floor with control. Repeat 2 sets of 8 alternating each leg.

at home exercises

Step 2: Make it harder

Alternate leg battements and speed up the tempo. Try placing your hands on your hips to challenge the core and balance. 8-16 reps

at home exercises

Step 3: Cardio challenge

Continue alternating leg battements adding a hop each time your leg brushes out in front of the body. 8-16 reps

Tips: Remember to focus on your abs in and shoulders staying down. Stand tall out of the supporting leg. Do not hunch forward.

It really is as easy as that. Repeat these moves three times a week.

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