Will Ballet Exercises Bulk Me Up?

To answer this once and for all, we need to first rid ourselves of the misconception that ballet fitness is just like any other body sculpting method. I assure you, it is not. In fact, ballet fitness isn’t even in the same ballpark as traditional methods of exercise.
Trying to put traditional weight training next to the weight bearing exercises of ballet is like comparing apples to oranges.

how to avoid bulking up? simple! Try Ballet! and here’s why:

1. Ballet focuses on Elongation

To begin with, ballet (regardless of the methodology) emphasizes the idea of elongation. So, you can expect to find a high quantity of stretching in every ballet studio. I have spent a great deal of time and energy finding the best way to explain the guiding principles and proper technique of ballet. My methods of teaching are constructed to benefit beginners as well as seasoned dancers. So, if you follow my instructions correctly you will definitely not bulk up. Let’s hear that again.

Nope, You will not bulk up.

One key thing we need to remember is that women simply don’t have enough testosterone to build up the same amount of muscle mass that men do. In case we need to refresh our memories, testosterone is a hormone that is present in both males and females. However, men have got a much larger amount than women. This is why men can, if they want, gain much more muscle mass than women. Men also naturally have a lower percentage of body fat. These two biological reasons are why men can “bulk,” but women, technically can’t. The nature of the activity is also a factor. For example, male dancers don’t bulk up. They are extremely strong and toned, but they still retain a lean physique; and, this is due to the nature of the work done in ballet.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s take a look at some examples of exercises that would give a woman a more muscular physique. Keep in mind, these can give women a more defined musculature, but it still wouldn't have the same “bulky” appearance of a man (not enough testosterone, remember?)

  • Heavy weight lifting

  • Chin ups ( pull ups with a high barre)

  • Step machines

  • CrossFit - this method  primarily focuses on high-intensity, constantly changing movements. Typically, this style of training relies heavily on exercises such as heavy weightlifting, Strongman-like events, and a great deal of plyometrics.  

Ballet fitness, in contrast, puts emphasis on posture, proper alignment, elongation, and controlled movements that demand coordination of both mind and body. The result is a leaner more toned physique, but never an overdone vein-popping appearance.

Lean muscles are worked through elongation. Here’s my 7 Tips to Flexibility, Extension and Split

Which brings us to our next point, ballet dancers are generally known for their sleek, toned, lithe appearance. And, while this physique does indeed exist in the ballet community, it is not the only one that is valued or even desired by all dancers, companies, or audience members anymore. So, in order to make the most out of your ballet fitness experience, the stereotypical image of a ballerina needs to remain just that, a stereotypical image.

2. Embrace Your Body Type

You will never look like someone you are not. And, that is a very good thing! If you are have a pear or an apple body type, there is no magical way of changing that. You simply need to embrace the shape you were born with. Your bone structure is, for the most part, genetically determined (nothing we can do about that). Work with your body, rather than against it. Ballet fitness is an approach than can help you bring out the parts you love and want to highlight. You can sculpt your own unique makeup to be a longer, leaner, more toned version of what you naturally already have. And, even dancers sometimes need to alter their body slightly, depending on the choreography they are working on (not unlike actors who commit to a role that also requires some physical tweaking to take place).

You are Beautiful

Every body type has its own set of benefits, find something you love about your body and let it shine. Ballet fitness approaches exercise in a way that allows you to work toward accentuating the areas you want, without ever coming close to appearing “bulky.”


You were born with a beautiful body, learn how to sculpt it. And, remember “lean” DOES NOT mean “skinny!” So, let’s clear up this confusion while we’re at it. When I say “lean”, I absolutely do not mean “skinny”.
The difference may seem subtle, but in reality, it is hugely important.

The Oxford Online Dictionary defines Skinny as “unattractively thin”. The same source defines Lean as “thin, especially healthily so; having no superfluous fat.” Note the difference. Both mean thin; however, there are two key words at play here. Skinny may be thin, but it is in an “unattractive” state- meaning, it doesn’t appear healthy. Lean is also thin, but it is “healthily so”. And, healthy is attractive. I don’t think you’ll find anyone to argue that point. Like I always say, we have one body, we need to look after it. It’s got to last, we need to give it a hand.

Are you trying to lose weight and find yourself counting calories all day? here’s why you should stop Now!

4. Embrace your Strength and Weaknesses

Embrace your strengths. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and we need to accept it. Be proud of what you have, be proud of who you are. Some people may find they are very strong, some may be naturally flexible, and others may discover they have an incredible amount of endurance. These very differences are what gives a dancer their own unique style. Everyone has got their own specialty, embrace yours straightaway. Once you do, you’ll eventually stop comparing yourself to others.  

5. “Limitations” are your Signature

Limitations are beautiful. Whatever you feel your limitations are, look at them honestly, and accept them as part of who you are. Make them work for you. You’ll be putting yourself into a more creative state of mind, and you’ll find a way to work with what you’ve got. Those same limitations can empower you to move forward, to push for more. And, soon you’ll discover your own signature style.

I never had the perfect “ballerina body.” I don’t have arched feet, I don’t have hyper-extended legs.
But, that’s ok! My limitations make me who I am, what I have become. I was never the high legged dancer, but I was a brilliant partner in a pas de deux. I was strong and compact, I could hop on pointe for days, and jump like crazy. Limitations are your signature. We are all unique in our own way!

Embrace who you are and what you have. You are unique and beautiful (or handsome). Accept your strengths and your limitations, they are part of who you are and what you are. So, follow my instructions, and we’ll get you toned, lean, and ready to dance! :)

And, You Will Not Bulk Up!


‘Get Ballerina Fit’ Free Guide

Lazy Dancers Ballet Workout Plan: Get Ballerina Fit!

This totally free Guide will take you through the strength and skill building techniques you need to gain a ballerina’s confidence and poise, no matter of your schedule, or what age and fitness level you’re at.
All achieved from the privacy of your living room ― no, really!


The 5 Body Types

Images from   5 Most Common Female Body Shapes    -  Author:    Burbuqe Latifi  - “no copyright infringement is intended”

Images from 5 Most Common Female Body Shapes - Author: Burbuqe Latifi - “no copyright infringement is intended”

  1. Hourglass

How to tell:
Your waist is the narrowest part of your body, generally 8-12 inches smaller than your bust, hips, and shoulders
Building muscle mass can be very easy, almost too easy! Your body can easily keep up with the total body challenges of ballet.
Areas to Accentuate:
Having a strong core (one thing ballet dancers can’t do without) will help maintain that fabulous waistline. Because this body type can build muscle rather quickly, focus on lengthening rather than heavy sculpting.
Celebrity Example:
Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, Christina Hendricks


2. Apple (round)

How to tell:
You have broad shoulders, a full bust, and wide torso. Apples tend to have thinner arms and legs.
Working the body as a whole is going to feel very natural, the benefits of the cardio aspect of ballet will be seen comparatively quickly (Ballet Burn HIIT series perfect for you).
Areas to Accentuate:
The repetitive nature of ballet fitness is going to work wonders for the lower and upper body, giving muscle definition right where you want it. Working on a beautiful port de bras and deep juicy plies will tone the upper body, hips, glutes, and legs. The emphasis on posture and alignment in ballet will bring out that overall balanced out appearance.
Celebrity Example:
Tyra Banks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angelina Jolie


3. Rectangle

How to tell:
You don’t have many curves, and weight is evenly distributed. Your waist is not much smaller than your bust and hips. Often called a “boyish” frame.
You don’t need to worry too much about weight gain. Rectangles generally have a higher metabolism. A low-moderate level of aerobic activity is plenty (unless you are trying to lose weight). Fitness barres, or some centre cardio is likely enough to maintain your weight.
Areas to Accentuate:
If you are looking to gain a curvier figure, focus on your core and waistline. Because ballet focuses so much on core stability and correct alignment, getting a more defined waistline is inevitable (possibly even more noticeable on rectangles). Your own body weight is the only amount you really need for weight bearing exercise. Ballet fitness is going to provide just the right amount of both cardio and strength training. You’ll get a more toned musculature, which is what you want, but it would be impossible for you to bulk up.
Celebrity Example:
Nicole Kidman, Cameron Diaz, Natalie Portman


4. Inverted Triangle

How to tell:
Your bust and shoulders are the widest part of your body. A more athletic figure.
Many inverted triangles have beautiful legs, a smaller waist, and even smaller hips. You won’t need much (if any) work for your upper body.  
Areas to Accentuate:
Show off those fabulous legs! Deep juicy plies and lunges in fourth (think Swan Lake Series) are going to add definition, giving your legs a toned and lengthened appearance. Because your shoulders are already broad, and your hips are already narrow, don’t worry too much about any upper body or hip focused training. Instead, go for ballet steps that maximize the principle of opposition. It will define your waistline a bit more, and add a nice curve between your waist and hips.
Celebrity Example:
Renee Zellweger, Giselle Bundchen, Cindy Crawford


5. Pear (triangle)

How to tell:
Your hips are the widest part of your body, and you have a nicely defined waistline.
May have greater hip mobility, an innately higher degree of flexibility, getting into deeper plies may be easier, a nice defined waistline, flatter tummy naturally  
Areas to Accentuate:
You will benefit greatly from the toning exercises of ballet, particularly the positions and steps that involve the lower body. They will lengthen and tighten the legs and hips.
Celebrity Example:
Kate Winslet, Beyonce, Shakira


Of course I’m here for you, so if you have any question or want to start a conversation, feel free to leave a message below or send me an email to hello@lazydancertips.com :)



‘Get Ballerina Fit’

Free Guide

Lazy Dancers Ballet Workout Plan: Get Ballerina Fit!

This totally free Guide will take you through the strength and skill building techniques you need to gain a ballerina’s confidence and poise, no matter of your schedule, or what age and fitness level you’re at.
All achieved from the privacy of your living room ― no, really!