Ballet Arm Exercises
Regardless of your age, ballet arm exercises can be a beneficial way to tone and strengthen all of your arm muscles. According to a February 28, 2006 article by Sally Anderson in the St. Petersburg Times, ballet exercises focus on control combined with grace and poise. Specific ballet exercises can help to increase the flexibility and strength of your arms while tightening several hard-to-tone areas.
The standing push-up is a ballet arm exercise best performed while using a Thera-Band or a stretchable elastic resistance band. The standing push-up is used by dancers to help increase their upper body stretch, states Jen Peters in the April/May 2010 issue of Pointe Magazine Online. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and place the band around your back, looping it under your armpits and holding each end with your corresponding hand. With your hands by your shoulders, push forward as though you were performing a standard push-up on the ground. Hold for a second, then return to your original starting position.
The reverse push-up is a ballet exercise that can help to tone your arms, suggests Emily Herbert in a November 24, 2010 article in Elle magazine. To perform this exercise, sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you and your arms by your hips with your fingers pointing towards the wall behind you. Inhale, and as you exhale, lift your hips off the ground, keeping your shoulders back, your stomach muscles contracted and your elbows straight. Gently bend your elbows, lowering your body almost down to the floor, then straighten your elbows again. Perform 30 repetitions of this exercise.
The butterfly arm exercise is a simple yet effective method for toning and loosening your arms and shoulders as well as developing a sense of grace and poise. This exercise is performed simply by raising and lowering your arms in a flowing motion as though you are making waves. Raise and lower your right arm, then your left arm and finally both arms simultaneously.
Arm stretches are another crucial component of ballet, as they help to stretch and loosen your arm muscles, armpits and the sides of your body. Diana Herweck, in her book, "A Day in the Life of a Ballet Dancer," states that stretches are often performed at the barre before a ballet class begins, in order to prevent muscle injuries. To perform a basic arm and side stretch, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Raise your left arm over your head and lean to the right, feeling a stretch in your arm and armpit area. Hold for a few seconds, and return to center. Repeat on the opposite side.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.