Strong legs-male dancer rehearsing in black tights

How Do Ballet Dancers Get Strong Legs? 7 Leg Power Moves

Ballet dancing is both an art form and a sport. It is a way of expressing music and creativity through extreme physical performance. Therefore, ballerinas need strong legs to execute fast-paced ballet moves.

They put in a lot of hard ballet training to ensure their best performances. That is why they have amazing physical strength and flexibility.

To get stronger legs, ballet dancers have to do additional exercises to strengthen the muscles they need to perform well. Optimal body conditioning is also crucial to prevent injuries.

Medical disclosure: The Fit Yourself Barre content is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of a physician. You should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

Read the related article “Is ballet a sport?”

Here are 7 ballerinas’ strength training exercises for strong legs

1. Legs Lifts

strong legs-ballerina leg lift

Leg lifts or raises like side extensions are prevalent in ballet training. These strengthen the inner/outer thighs as well as the hamstrings. You can do leg raises while standing with your hands on a chair for support or while lying on your back. Simply lift each leg as high as you can, keeping it straight. Don’t forget to tighten your abs.

You can also try to extend and hold your leg up counting to 3. This helps increase balance, strength, and flexibility.

Read the related article “12 top barre workout benefits: a good sweat guaranteed!”

2. Plié Squats

exercises for ballerinas strong legs-woman standing in a plié squat position on yoga mat

Squats like plié squats are an important part of ballet leg training. They’re great for isolating and strengthening your leg muscles, like your quads, calves, thighs, hamstrings, and glutes. Plus, not only do they increase the range of motion in your hips, but also strengthen your entire core.

To do a plié squat, first, stand tall with your feet wider than your shoulder stance and toes turned outwards (about a 45-degree angle). Second, slowly bend your knees, and lower your hips down to knee height while keeping your back straight and your abs tightened. Third, squeeze your glutes while coming to a standing position, still keeping your spine neutral. You can have your arms in front, on your hips, or above your head.

In addition, an extra challenge is to hold the bottom of the squat for 15 seconds. Do this as many times as you like.

Note that if you want to increase your strength, you can hold a weight while you do it.

Read the related article “Ballet plié squats awesome benefits: be happy to squat!”

3. Lunges

leg strength-woman doing lunge exercise at gym

Similarly, squats and lunge exercises are excellent ways to get strong legs for dancing. They help develop your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, the muscles in your upper and lower legs.

Step forward with one foot, your hands on your hips, or reach them up over your head. Bend both knees so they make a 90-degree angle on each. Then, switch sides by putting your other foot in front of you and bend again.

Of course, you can do static lunges or walking lunges. It’s up to you!

Also, read the related article “What is ballet barre fitness?”

4. Wall Sits

strong legs-woman doing wall sit exercise

This exercise is a classic and is indeed very effective for strengthening your entire lower body. You just need a wall to do it! Simply sit against the wall with your legs planted forward at a 90-degree angle. Believe me, you start feeling the burn very quickly. First, start holding this position for a few seconds, then as you gain strength, turn the seconds into a few minutes…

Wall-sits are great for dancers as they help build both strong legs and endurance.

Finally, you can do wall sits wherever you want. They help you build your core muscles as well as squatting exercises.

5. Core Exercises are important to get strong legs

Having a strong core is essential for all dancers, as it helps power all their arm and leg movements. Core strength even determines how graceful their motions can be and allows the dancers to maintain proper posture while they perform.

Therefore, ballet dancers learn firsthand that power and energy originate from having a strong core. But for those not familiar with ballet, it may be confusing to understand why strong abdominals help get strong legs…

The best exercises to strengthen the trunk are planks series like full planks, elbow planks, side planking leg lifts, as well as lower abdominal hip lifts (bridge exercises). They are easy abs exercises to do regularly and anywhere for ballet dancers.

Besides, these are only a few of the benefits of having a strong core.

Read the related article “15 strong core health benefits | Why core strength is crucial”

6. Calf Raises

stronger legs- fitness woman doing calf raises

Not only, do ballet dancers need strong calves to perform, but exercising your calves can help reduce the risk of hurting your ankles and shins.

You can do calf raises using a chair, bench, or wall for balance. First, feet parallel, rise on your tiptoes, then slowly lower the heels back down, and repeat 10-15 reps. Finally, make sure to Keep your body in a straight line, head up and shoulders back for good posture.

7. Deadlifts and Hip Thrusts

exercises for strong ballerina legs-woman on yoga mat praticing a bridge exercise

Glute reinforcing exercises like deadlifts and hip raises, help ballet dancers improve their technique, range of motion, good alignment, endurance, and strength. In short, strong glutes give ballerinas the power to perform better and jump higher.

Wrap-Up on How Do Ballerinas Get Strong Legs

In essence, ballet dancers are remarkable athletes who have amazing flexibility and physical strength in their legs. This isn’t something that happens naturally though! Not only they must constantly practice their ballet training daily to perfect their art, but also do strengthening exercises to develop powerful legs with less risk of injury.

Note that the exercises mentioned above are basics and just like the professionals, you can get stronger legs, with practice, and persistence.

So, put your dancing shoes on and get ready to build leg strength like dancers do!

Last but not least: read the related article “What is floor barre fitness? Its awesome benefits!”

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What exercises do you do to gain leg strength? Please share your thoughts and experience below!

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  1. Jake Devins says:

    I’m so intrigued by the dedication and hard work that ballet dancers put into their craft! These leg power moves they use are truly impressive. It’s not just about grace; it’s about building incredible strength. 

    I never realized the extent of the training involved to achieve those stunning leaps and spins. Learning about these techniques gives me a newfound appreciation for ballet as an art form and athletic endeavor. Thanks for shedding light on the behind-the-scenes efforts that go into those beautiful performances! 

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Hello Jake! Really appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Yes, many don’t know how hard ballet dancers train to achieve excellence. It is indeed an athletic performance.

      You may be interested in reading Why is barre fitness so good for men? 🙂

  2. Makhsud says:

    Hi Anne-Caroline,
    I just read your article on how ballet dancers achieve strong legs, and I found it very informative. Learning about the specific exercises that dancers incorporate into their routines like plié squats and wall sits, is fascinating. I had no idea that core exercises played a crucial role in leg strength for ballet dancers!
    How often do ballet dancers typically incorporate these exercises into their weekly routines? And for someone new to ballet, do you recommend starting with all these exercises or focusing on a few?
    Thanks for sharing this knowledge. Seeing the dedication and hard work that goes into ballet training is eye-opening.
    Warm regards

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Hello Max, thanks for sharing your thoughts! Professional ballet dancers train  5-6 days a week. For beginners, it is important to gradually increase the difficulty of their training. As they build strength, they can incorporate more exercises into their routine.

      You may be interested in reading Why is barre fitness so good for men? 🙂

  3. Hi Anne Caroline,

    I am not a ballet dancer, but most of these seven exercises are relevant for everybody who is trying to get fitter, which I am.

    The wall sit and lunges especially, I am going to add into my home regime. These will definitely make my legs stronger but they will have an effect on the rest of the body I believe too.

    I am going to share this article with my niece and her cousins who are dancers, they will love your site. Their Mums will also love your site too so I will share it with them.

    I will let you know how my new exercises go and if I have any questions then I will let you know, if that is OK?

    Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work.

    All the best,


    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Hello Tom! Thank you for your comment, really appreciate that you shared this article with your niece and cousins!:)

      You may be interested to read Why is barre fitness so good for men?

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