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The Barre Studio Abs Workout Sculpts a Strong Core with No Equipment

Barre classes are a unique form of self-torture. While they don't tax your body quite the same way as burpees or long runs, having to sit with and acknowledge the burning in your muscles—and keep going anyway—is a special form of muscular endurance and mental strength that can seriously pay off. (BTW, here's the difference between muscular strength and endurance.)

The best part about barre, too, is that you don't need a ton of equipment to do the exercises yourself. Sure, an actual ballet bar, mini bands, or a ball can help, but you can score a killer workout with just your body and a mat—and this barre abs workout proves it. (Related: 6 Weighted Abs Exercises for a Strong, Sculpted Core)

Andrea Leigh Rogers, founder of Xtend Barre studio, designed this workout so you can get your pulse-and-hold on at home. The moves combine supine (faceup) floor work with dynamic plank exercises that'll not only give your abs a solid workout but also light a fire in your arms, shoulders, hips, and legs too. (Warning: There may or may not be barre burpees at the end.) 

Tackle the moves below, and maybe even add these barre thigh exercises to make it a total-body workout.

How it works: Work through each of the moves for the indicated number of reps and sets below.

Total Time: up to 30 minutes

You will need: Mat

1. Xtend Ab Series

A.

Lie faceup on the floor with head, neck, and shoulders lifted off the mat and legs extended, feet hovering off the floor. Draw right knee in to chest, holding behind knee with both hands to start. 

B. Extend right leg, moving hands to hold behind ankle. Hold for 8 counts, drawing belly button to spine. Lift and pulse upper body toward leg for 8 slow reps, then 16 fast reps. 

C. Bring both legs to tabletop position, then extend right leg to switch sides, drawing left knee in to chest. Repeat on the opposite side.

Sets:

1 to 2 sets

Reps:

8 slow, 16 at tempo (faster pace) per side

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale down: Keep knees bent for entire series and rest head between sides.
Scale up: Extend legs fully on each side with no breaks between sides.

2. Scissor Abs Series

A.

Lie faceup on the floor with both legs extended toward the ceiling. Lift head, neck, and shoulders off the mat to start. 

B. Draw the left leg toward chest, holding behind calf or ankle, while lowering right leg as close to the floor as possible without lifting lower back off the mat.

C. Pulse twice, then switch sides, lowering left leg and pulling right leg toward chest. Keep upper body hovering off the floor and core engaged throughout the movement.

Sets:

1 to 2 sets

Reps:

8 to 16 reps per side

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale down: Reduce to a smaller range of motion and take breaks between reps.
Scale up: Keep arms above head for entire series.

3. Push-Up Prep

A.

Lie facedown on the floor with legs extended and palms pressed into the floor directly under shoulders.

B. Press palms into the floor and focus on drawing belly button to spine to lift chest and stomach a few inches off the floor. Hold for 8 counts. 

C. Press palms into the floor and engage abs even more to lift hips and upper thighs off the floor. Hold for 8 counts. 

D. Slowly lower torso down to the floor to return to starting position.

Sets:

1 to 2 sets

Reps:

8 reps

4. Plank Stretch

A.

Start in a high plank position with a soft bend in elbows. Hold for 8 counts. 

B. Draw abs in and up to press hips back into a pike (or downward dog) position, forming an upside down "V" shape. Hold for 8 counts.

C. Slowly lower back to high plank.

Sets:

1 to 2 sets

Reps:

4 to 8 reps

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale down: Start in tabletop position. 
Scale up: Flow seamlessly between each position for 2 sets.

5. Passé Plank

A.

Start in a high plank position with feet together. Draw right knee up to hip, knee pointing to the right, tapping right toes to left knee. Hold for 8 counts. 

B. Extend right leg to the side, hovering toes off the floor and keeping hips and shoulders square. Hold for 8 counts, then return to starting position. That's 1 rep.

Sets:

1 to 2 sets

Reps:

4 slow, 8 at tempo per side

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale down: Do not extend leg to the side; instead hold in passé.

6. Side Plank Series

A.

Start in a side plank, balancing on the left elbow and the outside of the left foot. Right arm can be extended toward the ceiling or on right hip.

B. Lower left hip toward the floor, then lift to return to side plank. Do 8 slow reps, then 16 reps at a faster speed. 

C. From side plank, extend right arm toward the ceiling. Thread right arm under torso, rotating shoulders toward the floor, controlling the rotation by engaging core. Return to side plank with arm extended and hips square.

Sets:

1 to 2 sets

Reps:

8 slow, 16 at tempo per side

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale down: Lower bottom knee to the floor for additional support.
Scale up: Perform series without stopping between sets.

7. Flash Trick Step

A.

Stand with feet together. Crouch down to place palms on the floor outside of feet, then jump feet back into a high plank position. 

B. Immediately jump feet forward between hands, then stand and jump, hands overhead. Land softly with feet wide, lowering into a plié, arms extended out to the sides. Jump feet together to return to starting position. 

Sets:

1

Reps:

4 slow, 8 to 16 at tempo

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale down: Extend one leg only (in a lunge) to transition into plank and remove the jump.
Scale up: Do 2 sets at the faster speed.

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