Having great turnout is the goal for every dancer.

Why? Because turnout, also known as the rotation of your feet and legs outward and away from the body, not only gives you a wider first position, but is the baseline for all other technique in ballet. Building your turnout helps with leg extension, executing pirouettes, leaps, and altogether makes each line look cleaner and prettier! It’s safe to say that it’s pretty important…

However, improving your turnout doesn’t happen overnight, like most ballet technique, it takes time and hard work to train your muscles to extend further than they naturally do. But there’s still hope! There are plenty of exercises you can do at home or in the studio, to work your turnout and make you an even stronger dancer.

Exercises to Improve Turnout

Here are a few ways you can improve your turnout!

Strengthen Your Rotators to Improve Turnout

The key to better turnout is building strength and one way to do that is by exercising your hip rotators, just like barre routines often do. But there are also floor exercises that focus specifically on your hip rotators. The exercise, known as the “Clam Exercise”, very aptly named, will help immensely. Lie on the floor on either side to start, with your knees bent at a forty-five-degree angle, creating a diamond shape with your legs. Then slowly open your knees and bring them back together. To really increase the intensity of the stretch, you can use a TheraBand and tie it around both legs just above the knees. This will create a resistance that will work your hips even further. Then, as always, repeat on the other side.

Floor Exercises for Improving Your Turnout

First, to start this stretch, sit in the butterfly position on the floor, put your feet together, pressing down on both knees. Then fold the legs on top of each other from that position. You can keep the legs parallel, stacked on top of each other, or if this pressure feels uncomfortable, you can stretch the legs out further. You can also stretch your arms forward while the legs are stacked to increase the intensity. Be sure to switch off between stacking both your right and left leg, so that way you’re evenly stretched on both sides. The great thing is, you don’t need to be in the studio for this one. You can easily work these exercises into your daily routine, whether you do them right before bed, or while you’re watching TV. Over time, this exercise should make your pirouettes easier, because you have stretched so much, your turnout will come to you more naturally!


Tendu combinations are part of every ballet class, because they require you to really concentrate on the turning out of both the hips and the legs. If you’re ever sick of doing tendu’s remember that they’re great for improving your turnout! Even if you’re not a beginner, a great way to work on your turnout is to do a slower tendu routine. At the barre, make sure your tail bone is tucked under and your shoulders are back, creating a straight line. Start in fifth position. Tendu front, plié, then straighten the legs, and tendu to the front again, two slow, and one fast. Then repeat this again to the side, ending with your foot in back so you can reverse your tendu’s by starting with the inside leg. As an extra challenge, repeat this exercise but slow down each tendu. If you feel it, then you’re doing something right!

Ron de Jambe

Another great exercise to do at the barre are ron de jambe’s. Much line the tendu combo, the goal is to practice at a slower pace, forcing you to really think about the movement of your hips. Practice ron de jambe’s at the barre, front to back and back to front, lifted off of the ground at a forty-five-degree angle. Here, the focus is not on the height of your ron de jambe, but controlling the hip as it moves front, side, and back, making sure that the hip is not lifted and stays in line throughout the exercise. For an extra stretch, use a TheraBand, placed just above the knees!

Final Thoughts: Exercises to Improve Turnout

There’s no one way to improve turnout, but these exercises are great tools to help build your flexibility and stamina. Do what works for you, at your own pace, and before you know it, your turnout will be that much better!

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