Dance Fitness: Strength Exercises for Dancers

dance fitnessAsk any professional dancer and they will agree that dancers are athletes. Unfortunately most dance fitness programs do not sufficiently prepare dancers for the demands of their sport.  Dancers should consider supplementing their traditional training with strength training in order to be in the best shape possible.  The five exercises below target areas of the body which are frequently week or undertrained in dancers.

The Dolphin Plank  will strengthen the core, shoulders and the upper back which is a weak spot for many dancers.

Dolphin Plank

  1. Lay on your belly with toes tucked and forearms on floor.
  2. Brace the core, and lift your hips into low plank position.
  3. Inhale and press the hips toward the ceiling  so that your body forms an inverted V
  4. Hold for a moment and then slowly return to low plank position.
  5. Do 2-3 sets of 15 reps.

By doing pushups with a mini band around the wrists dancers can increase their shoulder stability.  The added force of the band around the wrists will require the trainee to engage the lower trap and external shoulder rotators along with the muscles on the chest.

Pushups with a mini-band

  1. Get into a pushup position on either your toes or your knees with a mini band around both wrists.
  2. Brace your core and inhale as you bend your arms and carefully lower your body about a fists-distance from the floor. As you lower your self you should feel the muscles in your upper back, shoulders and chest work.
  3. Exhale, press your fingertips and hands in to the ground as your extend your arms and return your body to the starting position.
  4. Work toward being able to 2-3 do sets of 15 reps on your toes.

Dancers tend to have weakness in their glutes and their profession requires a great deal of unilateral lower body movement (one legged movements.)  The single leg romanian deadlift is an ideal exercise for dancers because it is a unilateral movement that trains the glutes.

Single leg Romanian deadlift

  1. Stand on your right leg, hold a light to moderate weight dumbbell or kettlebell in your right hand.
  2. Bending at the hip, extending your left leg behind you for balance.  Keep the right knee slightly bent.
  3. Continue bending at the hip until your torso and left leg are parallel to the ground,
  4. Slowly return to the upright position.
  5. Do 8-15 reps on the right leg before switching to the left leg.  Do 2-3 sets on each leg

Inverted high rows target the muscles of the upper back while requiring core engagement.

TRX High Rows

  1. Grip the TRX handles so that the back of your hands are facing the ceiling.
  2. Step forward and place your feet apart from one another, keep hold of the handles with the back of the hands up, and brace your core as you extend your arms and lean your weight back.
  3. Note : The more you walk your feet forward, the more resistance you will create with your own body weight, thus making the exercise more challenging.
  4. Squeeze the back muscles together as you pull the TRX handles toward your shoulders and bring your body nearly upright.
  5. Do 2-3 sets of 15 reps.

Lunges with cable chop build balance, rotational core strength, and lower body strength which are all elements that make a good dancer great.

Lunges with cable chop

  1. Set the cable to its highest setting with a light weight.
  2. Stand perpendicular to the machine with your right side closest to the machine and hold the handle by placing your right hand on first, and the left hand overlapping, your feet shoulder distance apart..
  3. Brace the core and squeeze your glutes as you step your right foot back into a reverse lunge while you pull the cable across your body just past your right hip.
  4. Return slowly to the starting position.
  5. Do 8-15 reps on the right side before switching to the left side.  Do 2-3 sets on each leg.

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