Ballet dancers, with their slender, flexible and strong physiques, are the envy of the fitness world. Although most won't know the feeling of taking a curtain call following a brilliant performance of "Swan Lake," you can earn a dancer's legs by incorporating her training methods into your own fitness routine. Consult a physician if you're new to fitness, avoid strength training on consecutive days and eat a healthy diet for the best results.
Award-winning actress Natalie Portman trained intensely for her role as a driven ballerina in "Black Swan." Part of her routine included the bridge, which works the inner thighs, hamstrings, glutes and core musculature. Lie on your back, bend your knees and put your toes on the floor with your legs pressed together. Tuck your abs tightly, straighten your right leg so that your toes point to the ceiling and exhale as you push your hips into the air with your left foot. Inhale as you lower yourself until you nearly touch the ground and exhale as you rise again. Do 30 repetitions, and repeat with your right leg.
The Leg Raise
Former dancer and current Pure Barre instructor Noelle Zane recommends the leg raise, which works the hips and glutes. Stand erect, and hold onto the back of a chair for support; make a V with your feet so that your heels are touching and your toes are far apart. Keeping your right knee soft, gently sweep your straight left leg back to 7 o'clock. Flex your feet and use your glutes to raise your left leg off the ground a few inches. Pulse your leg upward for 30 seconds using your glutes; next, increase your pulsing speed for an additional 30 seconds. Repeat the 60-second pulsing interval again, but with pointed toes. Switch legs and repeat.
The Plie Squat
Zane also points to the plie squat as an effective leg-strengthener. Stand erect, with tucked abs, your feet wide apart and toes pointed away from each other. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground, keeping your glutes tucked under, and pulse up and down in 1-inch increments for 15 seconds. For the next 30 seconds, increase your pulsing speed but reduce your up-and-down movement; then rise on your toes and continue pulsing quickly for another 30 seconds. Finally, lower yourself into the squat as much as you can, stay on your toes, and push your knees back using your glutes and inner thigh muscles for an additional 30 seconds.
The Butt Buster
Return to Portman's workout with the butt buster, a floor-based move requiring no equipment that resembles the arabesque. Start on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Tuck your abs as you inhale and bring your right knee into your chest. Exhale as you point your right toe and push your leg out straight back and up into the air, squeezing your glutes and raising your chest as you do. Do 30 reps and switch legs.