20-minute barre workout at home for seniors

Barre is a low-impact exercise that helps build strength and improve balance for seniors.

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Image credit:
Oliver Rossi/DigitalVision/GettyImages

As we get older, we find ourselves racing with the natural process of aging. By the time we hit middle age, most of us can no longer expect to hit the ground running as a weekend warrior without some upkeep and upkeep during the week.

The key to maintaining strength, balance and flexibility as we get older is ‘use it or lose it’. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much work to combat the loss of muscle mass that naturally occurs as we get older.

says Meltem Sonmez-Burr, NASM-CPT, Certified Advanced Bar Trainer with Barreitude.

One exercise that addresses all of those areas: the barre, which focuses on alignment, form, core strength, and balance, and can be modified in several ways to meet you wherever you are.

Sonmez-Burr designed this 20-minute barre-inspired workout with balance and stability in mind. Standing exercises can be performed with the support of a chair or wall (or an insulator if you have access to it) and can progress to standing without support as your balance and stability improve.

1. Extending the balance with one leg

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skill level

all levels

Activity

Mobility workout

Goal

Improve balance

  1. Stand with feet parallel and under hips, knees soft, abs tight.
  2. Place one hand on the back of a chair, or place both hands on your waist.
  3. Hinge about 20 degrees from your hips (not your waist), keeping your back flat without arching.
  4. Take the outer leg straight back behind you with the foot flexed.
  5. Lift that leg by squeezing your butt. Do not move the knee and keep the leg straight.
  6. Raise and lower 16 times. Move into second position (reaching single-leg balance below) before switching legs.

2. Reach for one-leg balance

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skill level

all levels

Activity

Mobility workout

Goal

Improve balance

  1. Put the big toe down for a second.
  2. Extend the arm opposite the standing leg up to the sky in a slight diagonal, biceps next to the ear.
  3. Maintaining balance and lifting the leg by squeezing the butt 16 times without putting the foot down or touching the floor.
  4. Switch legs and perform the exercise again on the other side.

3. Three-legged bent-over contract

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skill level

all levels

Activity

Mobility workout

Goal

Improve balance

  1. Stand with feet parallel and under your hips, with your hands on your hips.
  2. Put one hand on your chair for balance if you need it.
  3. Lift your right foot with your knee bent and your right foot bent.
  4. Keep the thigh parallel to the ground. Your knee should be directly in front of your hip.
  5. Keep breathing but keep your stomach straight, torso straight, shoulders down and back up. Hold for 8 seconds.
  6. If you feel comfortable and stable with your balance, kick that foot in front of you with the leg extended at hip level.
  7. Bend the knee to return to its original position.
  8. Do this 8 times. If you’d like an extra challenge, you can open and close the arms at chest level.
  9. Switch legs and do the exercise again on the other side.

Hint

If the hold is difficult, hold the toe down for a few seconds, reset, bring the knee back in and try the hold again for another 8 seconds, says Sonmez-Pur.

4. Reverse the impulse to balance

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skill level

middle

Activity

Mobility workout

Goal

Improve balance

  1. Stand next to your seat with one hand on the chair or place your hands on your hips. Make sure there is enough space behind you to step back.
  2. Start by placing feet parallel, just below the hips.
  3. With one leg, take a step back as you bend that knee directly behind the opposite hip. Keep your knees bent at 90 degrees.
  4. Next, push with the standing foot to rise, as you bring the back knee in front of the hip to single-leg balance.
  5. Hold the scale for a quick count of two seconds and repeat the motion.
  6. Repeat 16 times.
  7. Switch legs and exercise again.
  8. Do another set on each leg.

5. Squat to twist

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skill level

middle

Activity

Mobility workout

Goal

Improve balance

  1. Start with feet parallel and under the shoulders.
  2. Bring both hands in front of your chest. Interlace your fingers with your palms facing down. Elbows and shoulders pressed down.
  3. Squat down.
  4. When you press the feet up, lift one knee while twisting the waist to bring the chest toward the lifting knee.
  5. Repeat on the other side.
  6. Perform the exercise, alternating on the knees, 16 times.
  7. Take a quick two-second break and perform another set of 16 reps.

6. Plank contract

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skill level

all levels

Activity

body weight workout

Goal

Improve balance

  1. Lie flat on your stomach on the floor on an exercise mat or mat.
  2. Place your elbows under your shoulders. Press your forearms and palms into the ground in the shape of the number 11.
  3. As you exhale, pull your belly button in and lift your body off the floor, balancing on your toes and forearms. Keep pulling your belly button up to your spine. Your back should be flat. Brace your abs, and keep them fully engaged.
  4. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Remember, there should be no arching or curving in the back.
  5. Release, take a quick two-second break, and then do another hold.

Hint

If a 20-second hold feels too easy, increase it to 30 seconds, says Sonmez-Pur. If 20 seconds is too long, hold for 10 seconds at a time.

7. Pelvic tilt

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skill level

all levels

Activity

body weight workout

Goal

Improve balance

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and toes pointing forward. The knees and feet should be hip-width apart and the ankles should be placed slightly in front of the knees.
  2. Press the soles of your feet into the floor as you pull in your stomach tight and squeeze both buttocks to lift your hips.
  3. In the lifted position, with the buttocks compressed, the front body should be flat with the abdomen pulled in tightly.
  4. Keep your shoulder blades in contact with the ground. The lift should not go beyond the shoulder blades. The head, neck and shoulders should be relaxed without tension.
  5. Return the hips to the ground.
  6. Repeat 16 times, focusing on the butt crunch and abdominal retraction.
  7. Go directly to the next step.

8. Pelvic tilt with one leg

JW Player placeholder image

skill level

middle

Activity

Mobility workout

Goal

Improve balance

  1. From the position described above, extend the right leg out diagonally, keeping both knees level with each other.
  2. Press into the left foot to squeeze the left gluteus maximus to lift the hips off the floor. Ensure that your hips are together during this exercise. Don’t let one thigh drop or the other rise.
  3. Repeat 16 times.
  4. Switch legs and exercise again.
  5. Return to the pelvic tilt with both feet flat on the floor and perform another set of 16 repetitions, then follow with single leg tilts for 16 repetitions per leg.

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