If someone had told our ten-year-old selves that in 15 years we’d want nothing more than to show off the sculpted arms of a dancer, perhaps we never would have hung up our ballet slippers. Unfortunately that ship has sailed, and you couldn’t pay us to don a leotard in a ballet class. But that doesn’t mean we’re willing to give up on the dream of dancer arms. So we called in Grace Lazenby. As the owner of Rockin’ Models, a workout focused on creating feminine physiques and available exclusively at Equinox, Lazenby has plenty of experience in sculpting long, lean limbs, and she assured us we can get them without learning a dance routine.
Keep scrolling for the 5 moves that’ll give you ballerina arms!
Perform three to four cycles of chaturanga. Starting in downward dog, transition to plank, preform a yoga push-up down into upward facing dog, and then push back into downward dog. “This position is a perfect starting point to open up the upper body and lengthen the arms,” Lazenby says. “It is allows every muscle in the upper body to work at once, but avoid doing too many, which will build up the back muscles.”
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, extend your arms out to either side at shoulder height, and spread your fingers wide. Then, begin pumping your arms forward about an inch as though you were pushing against a wall. Flex and pump forward for 60 seconds. Then switch the motion to pump down for 60 seconds. Repeat the sequence, this time holding two-pound weights. “This will create striated muscle definition in the upper body. It also works the bicep muscle in a lengthening motion.”
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and straighten both arms out to your sides at shoulder height. Circle your arms in a fluid motion forward, and then back. Complete 25 reps in each direction while keeping your shoulders and neck relaxed. For the second set, add two-pound weights. “This works every muscle in the upper body, but the arms are lengthened (rather than contracting) the whole time, so the result is lengthened, striated arms.”
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms down at your sides. Hold a two-pound weight in each hand, with thumbs up and palms facing forward. Rotate your palms down and up, moving quickly, up to 25 times. Rest, and repeat a second set. “This focuses on the underarm muscle that’s so hard to reach,” Lazenby says.
Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a Pilates magic circle (also known as an exercise ring) with your palms on the handles. With your arms extended out in front of you, press in on the ring up to 50 times. Then rest, stretch out your shoulders, and repeat. If you don’t have a magic circle, you can hold a mid-sized ball instead.
“I like to alternate and interval the exercises to create muscle confusion,” Lazenby says. She gave us a sample set of one of the many ways you can run through this routine: 3-4 chaturangas with downward dog + 1 set of butterflies + 1 set of circles + 2 sets of twist the knot + 1 set of we must + 1 set of butterflies + 1 set of circles.
Create your sequence or add a few of these moves into your existing workout. Either way you’ll be sculpting the lean lines of a dancer.