How to Exercise With Ballet Arm Positions


Ballet dancers have long, lean arms with impressive muscle definition. By training with the same arm positions dancers use, you can slim your arms while continuing to build strength. These effective exercises are gentle and don’t place undue stress on your joints, which can make it easier for anyone, regardless of age or ability, to stick with a consistent upper-body workout. Use a timer and hold each position for one minute. As you get stronger, challenge yourself by adding time to each position in the sequence.

Things You'll Need

  • Clothing you can move in
  • Hold your arms curved in front of your chest as if you are holding a big beach ball. Your middle fingertips should almost be touching. Elongate your neck and keep your shoulders down. This position strengthens your anterior deltoids and your latissimus dorsi muscles.

  • Lift the imaginary beach ball overhead so that your arms are still rounded. Do not bring your arms behind your head because this can put stress on your shoulder joints. This position helps you work your deltoids, biceps, pectoralis major and the muscles surrounding your scapula.

  • Bring your arms straight out to your sides with your palms facing down. From here, you can add variations and movement, like making small circles in the air with your arms, both forward and backward. Try these with your palms facing up. This position focuses on your deltoids.

  • Hold your arms straight out in front of your body. Try paddling your arms in small up-and-down motions, keeping your elbows straight. This will strengthen your pectoralis major, biceps and anterior deltoid muscles.

  • Beginning with your arms hanging by your sides and your palms facing front, draw one arm behind you to the point where your shoulder is comfortable. In this position, it is safest to move one arm behind you at a time. For body balance, bring your other arm to reach straight out in front of your body. Holding your arm behind you with your palm facing down targets your triceps and your posterior deltoid muscles.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ballet arm positions are effective for building lean muscle and are also easily accessible; you need no equipment and can even do them sitting down.
  • If any of the ballet arm exercises cause pain in the shoulder joints, stop doing the exercise immediately and consult your physician before proceeding with other exercises.

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