Quest for a Ballet Body: Reverse Leg Lift

The other day, a coworker told me my butt looked great.She qualified her comment by saying that perhaps it was inappropriate to say that, but it, uh, kinda made my week!

In my time working out with ballerina Mary Helen Bowers, creator of the Ballet Beautiful workout program, it’s been my legs and glutes that have enjoyed the starkest improvement. My behind is much tighter and toned, my legs are stronger and leaner, and I’m enjoying movement I’ve never had before (witness me, in the shower, doing a graceful pilete to shave my legs, instead of the awkward fall-on-my-face bent leg move I’ve been suffering since turning 12).

The reverse leg lift has been key in my butt transformation. It targets the muscles right at the base of the behind. “It’s important to really squeeze your glutes as you’re lifting your leg,” says Bowers. “The more you feel it, the tighter your behind will get. When doing this move, be sure to pull in your stomach to protect your lower back.”

MOVE: Reverse Leg Lift

WHAT IT DOES: Lengthen your legs and tone your glutes, while engaging your stomach and core for allover strength.

HOW TO DO IT: (watch the moving image to see Mary Helen Bowers performing this move.)

  1. Begin on your hands and knees.
  2. Straighten one leg and lift it upwarsds as high as you can, keeping knee straight and toe pointed and stretching long through the leg.
  3. Simultaneously lift your arm on the opposite side.
  4. Engage your stomach at all times, and squeeze your butt as you lift into it. Do four sets of eight.


Try Bower’s Butt Blast video, an intense 15 minute workout session that includes this move—and it’s only $8! Check out to get started on your own workout.

MORE: Try More Ballet-Inspired Moves in Our Ballet Body Series

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