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Arabesque v. Fold Over -What's the deal?!

Two common and very effective seatwork exercises we do in class are Arabesque and Fold Over.  To the untrained eye, they may look like the same exercise but they target different areas of your buns and have a completely different set-up so let’s break it down to learn both positions so get the optimal results from them both.


In Arabesque you are working to keep your head and chest lifted, yet squared, while extending 1 leg behind you with the hip of the extended leg lifted higher than the standing leg hip.

While in Arabesque, you are working the outside of your seat (umm…saddlebags) all the way up through your external oblique (more commonly known as “muffin top”).

Now that you know how effective Arabesque is, how do you make sure you are in perfect form?

For set-up, step away from the barre so your hands are holding on wider than your shoulders and there is a soft bend in your elbows, your feet are in 1st position.  Walk your left foot back so your leg is straight and slightly wider than your hip with your toe turned out.  TUCK YOUR HIPS-(yes, that important tuck is necessary)!!!  Pull your stomach in to support your low back.  Then lift your straight leg up while keeping your head and chest above the barre and shoulders square in the mirror (meaning they are even and one is not lifted higher than the other).  Now the final step, shift your weight back into the heel of your standing leg.  If you have your weight shifted back properly, you will be able to lift your standing leg toes up off the floor, you don’t have to keep them lifted, it is just a test.  Now all you have to do is little 1” lifts of your leg to feel the burn from saddlebag to muffin top!

Variations include Bent Leg Arabesque (with or without the yellow ball) and the modified version for beginners or those with low back issues where you stay closer to the barre so your body is on a diagonal.  The rest of the set up remains the same.


In Fold Over, you are working through the center of your seat, from where you thigh hooks into your bottom up to your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius.  You are working on keeping your body squared to the floor therefore shoulders, elbows and hips are all level and in one line and facing the ground.

Perfect form starts with the perfect set-up, as follows.  Stand at the barre with hands shoulder-width apart and an arm’s length away from the barre.  Your feet are hip-width apart and parallel.  Press the top of your left foot into the floor.  TUCK UNDER and pull your stomach in against your spine.  Lift your leg up so you are in a straight line, your head is inline with the barre, which is inline with your hips, which is in line with your ankle. Now shift your weight back so you can lift your standing leg toes off the ground…again this is a test, you do not need to keep your toes lifted during the exercise.  One trick to keep in mind while in fold over so your hips stay level is to think about the top of your foot on your extended leg facing the ground (and not turned out like in Arabesque)

Fold Over variations include bending at the knee so your toes point to the ceiling (with or without yellow ball) and our modified version where you stand closer to the barre during set up so when you lift your leg you are on a diagonal from shoulder to hips to toes. This diagonal position will be less stress on your low back.

Take a minute to review our short videos on Arabesque and Fold Over set-up.  Perfect set-up leads to perfect form, which leads to perfect buns!  Who isn’t interested in that?! #GoNative

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