Your cart

Your cart is empty

Top 10 Barre Exercises with Hand Weights

Top 10 Barre Exercises with Hand Weights

Using light hand weights in your workouts can offer a range of benefits, including:

  • Increased muscular endurance: Light weights are perfect for performing high-repetition exercises that challenge your muscles to work harder for a longer period of time. This can help improve your muscular endurance, allowing you to perform more repetitions before fatiguing.
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness: Adding light hand weights to your cardio workouts, can increase the intensity of your workout and elevate your heart rate, leading to improved cardiovascular fitness.
  • Strengthening and toning: While light weights may not build significant muscle mass, they can still be effective at strengthening and toning your muscles, particularly if you're a beginner or returning to exercise after a break.
  • Improved bone health: Using light weights can help stimulate bone growth and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, particularly in women.

Overall, incorporating light weights into your workouts can provide a range of benefits and is a great way to add variety to your routine. Here are our favourite ways at Aleenta Health Club to add hand weights to your barre class:

1. Weighted port de bras

Port de bras, meaning ‘carriage of the arms’ is unique to ballet and often used in barre for upper-body strengthening and toning. It’s a great exercise that really gets the shoulders and upper-back burning! Adding light weights to the hands or wrists here gives you enough resistance to tone these muscles, without over-exerting yourself.


The great thing about port de bras is it can be done standing in isolation, or in tandem with pliés, or even seated in a c-curve for some additional ab burn! A truly versatile exercise, it’s no wonder it’s one of our go-to’s.

2. Weighted yoga flow

At Aleenta Health Club, we love getting creative in our classes, which often means incorporating alternative fitness styles such as yoga into our barre routines. A particular favourite is flowing through the Warrior II and III positions with the addition of hand weights; it looks simple enough, but boy does it burn! This is a fun and inventive way to strengthen your shoulders and triceps while simultaneously working your lower body and core too.


3. Boxing

Speaking of borrowing from other fitness styles, boxing with light hand weights not only strengthens the upper body, but is a great cardio workout that gets your heart rate pumping too! Incorporating footwork, ducks and weaves can also add a lower-body element to this exercise.


4. Circles and pulses

Tiny movements with big burn, small circles and/or pulses added to any upper-body exercise is incredibly beneficial for building strength. Using a smaller range of motion gets your muscles working harder and burning faster due to increased time under tension. All this means is that your muscles are under tension for longer, which can lead to improved muscle endurance and strength. 


5. Weighted donkey kicks/superman

We all know the more traditional way to add resistance to donkey kicks by using bands, but have you ever thought about incorporating light weights instead? By holding a weight behind your working knee, not only are you adding a few extra kilos of resistance, but you are requiring your hamstring to stay engaged in order to avoid dropping your weight! This can also be done with an ankle weight (such as the Bala Bangles). It’s a fantastic way to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings. This can be done on all fours on your mat, or standing at the barre with a bent supporting knee, flat back and arms extended; aka superman position!


6. Weighted pliés

Simple yet effective, resting your weights on the tops of your thighs, at your chest or on your shoulders as you work in plié is a sure and fast way to add resistance to your lower-body workout. This is a great opportunity to choose slightly heavier weights ranging from 3kg and above.


7. Lunges with weights

We love a good lunge series at the barre, and adding weights here is the perfect way to tone both your lower and upper body! Start with your hand weights hanging by your side as you take reverse lunges or simply bend and stretch. Then you can add any variation with your arms from port de bras to an overhead press, to an incline lunge with tricep kickbacks. You even have the option to hold both weights in one hand and rest your other hand on your barre, working with heavier resistance on one side.


8. Standing oblique crunches

A fantastic way to work your abs, this exercise can be done two ways:

The first is to hold both weights in one hand, with your arm long down the side of your body. Let the weights guide you as you slide this arm down your leg, into your crunch.


The second and more barre-inspired method is to stand side-on to the barre with one hand resting on the barre for support. Your outside hand holds the weight(s), or bala bangles wrap around your wrist; raise that arm above your head and simultaneously bring your elbow down and lift your outside knee up to meet it, creating the oblique crunch.

9. Side plank with weights

Want to add some resistance to your side plank? Wrapping the weighted band around your wrist or holding a weight in your top hand is a great way to get your non-working shoulder burning as well. From here you can twist and thread your arm under your body for additional oblique work, add overhead rows or even port de bras… the possibilities are endless!


10. Flat-back core with weights

Lying on your back with your legs in table-top, the possibilities are endless; you can take chest presses, chest flies, overhead bent-arm tricep reaches, and even simple bicep curls, all while your abs are engaged and working. Want to add more burn? Try incorporating single or even double leg extensions too! Or maybe add weights to ankles AND wrists to really fire up the burn.




You can find hand weights and Bala Bangles in our online store here if you’re doing your Aleenta workout from home, or maybe even bring those bangles to class to level up your sessions.

Got a favourite exercise that we missed? Let us know! Comment here or tag us on Instagram

Check out our other blog featuring our fav barre exercises with resistance bands!

Previous post
Next post