Courtesy of YouBeauty

A plié I had heard of before. A tendu, never.

While training with Mary Helen Bowers, professional ballerina and founder of Ballet Beautiful, one of my biggest challenges was learning the terms. Often as graceful sounding as the moves themselves, elegant words like arabesque and rond de jambe (meaning, circle) have become part of my daily vocabulary. 

The plié is one of ballet’s classic positions, and with it comes supreme strengthening and tightening of the thighs. Tendu translates to “stretch” in French. In ballet, it means to lengthen your leg by stretching it as long and straight as humanly possible. In the following exercise, Bowers combines plié with tendu for a movement that’s reminiscent of a classic lunge, but leads to longer, leaner, thigh muscles. 

MOVE: The Plié Tendu

WHAT IT DOES: Tones your legs while building strength through your center and creating better posture. It’s like a graceful ballet version of the lunge—but it does not build bulky thighs!

HOW TO DO IT: (watch the moving image to see Mary Helen Bowers performing a plié tendu.)

QUIZ: Are You Fitting In Enough Fitness?

Plié Tendu Back

  1. Stand with your right leg in ballet lunge with your right knee slightly bent into a demi-plié and your left leg stretched out behind you in an arabesque.
  2. With your stomach pulled in and your arms lowered down to your sides, you can keep your back foot on the floor. Your weight is over the ball of your front foot. Keep your neck long and your stomach engaged. Feel unsteady? Hold onto a chair or a wall.
  3. Bend your standing knee slightly deeper into a demi-plié.  

Plié Tendu Front

  1. Shift your weight backward onto your left leg, grounding it into a plié. Point your left foot; there should be no weight on it, all weight should be on your left leg.
  2. Bend your standing leg slightly deeper into a demi-plié.
  3. Make sure your standing knee is over your toes. Keep your chest open, your elbows lifted and your center engaged. Do 8 counts, 4 sets.

WANT MORE? Try Bower’s Tendu Workout Ballet Blast, an intense 15 minute cardio workout session that includes swan arms—it’s only $8! Check out to get started on your own workout.

MORE: See the Entire “Quest for a Ballet Body” Series on YouBeauty