Hardest Squat: The Ballet Squat

Forget squats.

I plié!



I think we underestimate ballet way too much. I know I did. Before taking classes I knew it was going to be hard for someone with little coordination and techinical skills, but I never in my wildest dreams thought Ballet of all workouts would make me sore!

There are so many things going on in a plié. When you plié, it’s important that you tuck your tailbone right under so that your butt doesn’t stick out–quite the opposite of a squat. To do this you have to be mindful engaging your glutes, inner thighs and hamstrings. I thought I was doing a pretty good job over at the barre until the teacher came and pressed her legs straight against my back. My tailbone wasn’t tucked directly under. My oh my, engaging your thighs and glutes isn’t something to take lightly in ballet–you really have to concerntrate on every single rep! There’s nothing graceful about a booty ballerina.

Oh, by no means am I a professional or even intermediate ballerina, this is just the things I learned within the month of August with my unlimited monthly drop in class. 🙂


I thought boot camp was going to be a breeze since I’ve experienced Insanity(and let me tell you, it’s the best exercise program out there) and done tons of HIIT(thanks, Cassey Ho!) prior to the class, but the squat is really what made all the difference and that’s how I woke up sore. The constant energy I have to put into the engagement of my muscles burned more calories than I ever burned doing regular squats! Quality above everything else, guys.

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So if pliés weren’t enough, there’s also the turnout. In a turnout your feet are in a V position with the inner arches of your ankles raised. If bugs were to party in that little cave created them you’re doing it right and you’re engaging your hip rotaters and glutes. This is a technique thats barely visible but absolutely critical in protecting tour knees. In every Grande battement(that’s french for grand kick), every piroutte and plié, it’s important to maintain a turnout position, which causes the lower gluteus maximus, core, and above all, inner thigh to work. It takes so much concentration to do ballet. I’d say more concentration than any other type of dance. For example, in afro jazz you’re most loose through your joints and skeltal muscles. Ballet is by far the most controlled, stamina-istic(is that word? It is in my book) dance of all. I was sore for 2 days straight after that workout, something that even inner thigh Pilates hasn’t been able to do in a while.

To sum it up, here’s how to do a proper ballerina squat:

  • Tuck your tailbone under like crazy
  • Ground down through the big toe pad(opposite to big toe knuckle)
  • Lift the inner arches of your feet
  • Engage your inner thighs
  • Energetically rotate your inner thighs to the front. Statically feel like you’re showing off the back of your legs by rotating your heels to the front!

So, if you’re feeling all high and mighty about your squats, I challenge you to try the plus squat. If you think your tailbone is tucked, think again because chances are, it’s not. Besides, it’s beneficial to switch up your exercise routine so a)you don’t get bored and b)you challenge your body to new movements. It’s not a bad way to get in a smiling workout either.

I am linking up with Katie, Jennie, and Heather today.

Have you ever taken a ballet or barre class? How often do you squat? What’s your dance history? If you could choose one type of dance to master, what type would it be?

  • Nicole

    As a dancer I totally appreciate this post and its truth. When I was playing lacrosse and dancing, squats were always my favorite workout, but my team didn’t quite agree, hahaha. Great post!! nicole @ http://www.empirestyles.com

  • Hungry_Healthy_Happy

    I remember doing these when I was younger and they were so tough.

  • Oh yes. I’m not ballet dancer but I definitely practice ballet type moves from time to time–before it was a few times a week. But ballet moves and plies ARE killer, for sure! They also seem to shape the body faster than many other ways of exercising, surprisingly.

  • You are seriously beastmode in that ballet squat. Thanks for the tutorial because my own needs tweaking!

  • I am soooo not graceful, so ballet + GiGi = a dinosaur trying to squeeze through a rabbit hole – it doesn’t happen, lol!

  • You kill the ballet squat! I need to learn from you! I don’t know much about dance or balance, haha… I’m always hitting the weights!

  • Those squats are so hard! We have to do them at barre fitness classes and my body struggles to do them right!!

  • Amanda H

    Ooh yea I’ve done barre workouts and they always make me super sore in my tiny muscles. Thanks for sharing! #wowlinkup

  • Catherine Basu

    Cool tutorial 🙂 I haven’t done ballet since I was about 5 so I know this will kick my butt, literally! Thanks for sharing #wowlinkup

  • My personal trainer is a professional ballerina and I can tell by her hardcore legs ballet is NOT easy. #wowlinkup

  • you make it look so easy too!

  • Heather

    ouch…that is a horribly hard squat…but so good for you. You do make it look easy 🙂

  • Markita @SweshFit

    I went to the Barre Method a couple of weeks ago. At first I thought it was super easy but then those little movements like plie squats got super hard! #wowlinkup

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