Image by: Gerald Pereira
By: MacKenzie Nelson-Greene
The most amazing dancers are in the greatest shape. It is fascinating to watch their bodies move over the dance floor or stage, because no matter what genre of dance they are doing, they make the most intricate workouts seem effortless.
If you’ve ever wondered how they did it, I’m here to tell you years of training and self-control are the two things that get them to peak physical strength.
So, how can a non-dancer type of person incorporate the routines and training of a professional dancer into her own routine? Check out these four ways your body can benefit from years of perfected exercises to build your muscle strength and shape your body the way you want it.
#1) Hips & Calves
Much of a dancer’s sleek physique comes from the fact that their hips and calves are toned perfectly. The best way to sculpt your hip and calf muscles is to do pliés.
You might ask, what are pliés? Once you see them, you’ll understand.
Place a chair next to you. Hold the back of the chair with one hand. Your feet and ankles should be positioned with your heels together and your toes pointed out.
To really get your calves burning, lift your heels about two inches off of the ground before you begin. Now, bend your knees, making sure to keep your back and shoulders straight.
The video below gives great advice on balance, posture, and movement of the plié.
Try adding pliés to your cool-down routine to ensure you are getting the most of out of your muscles. Do about three sets of ten, holding each plié for ten to fifteen seconds.
#2) Buttocks & Thighs
Thigh exercises are all the rage these days. However, stretching and toning your thighs can be very difficult. Additionally, lunges and butt busters can get really boring.
Mix up your butt and thigh routine by trying leg lifts and glute lifts (also known as reverse leg lifts). Keep that chair near you. Face the back of the chair, place both hands on the top, and lift your leg back. Make sure to point your toes out in order to get a full extension.
Remember that posture is incredibly important when doing these toning lifts. You can also use a stability ball to do these exercises.
Check out this instructional video to help you out:
Add these lifts to your warm up routine to get your blood pumping and to activate your muscles before a big work out.
#3) Abs & Legs
While pliés and lifts work your legs, let’s start focusing on your abs.
Try some full-body curls to help you. Remember to activate your core by pulling it up toward your chest (a great way to do this is to pretend you are sucking your tummy in as though someone is about to take a picture). This will also keep your posture straight and work those ab muscles overtime.
To properly do a full-body curl, begin on your back. Remember to keep your core active. Pull one leg straight up while pointing your toes. Lift your shoulders and grab your calf muscle, pulling your leg to a perfect 90-degree angle.
The first few times you try this, you might find that you are not getting to that 90-degree angle. Don’t worry! Just like with those difficult yoga poses, it takes time and practice to do it right. Never worry about whether or not you are doing any exercise perfect.
Always remember that posture and core activation are more important than how flexible you are. The flexibility comes with repetition of the exercise.
Hold your position for ten to fifteen seconds, release, then switch legs.
This is also a great cool down exercise as it focuses on static stretching.
#4) Arms, Shoulders, & Back
I call them my wings, those hanging curtains of skin and fat where my triceps should be. When I lift my arms high, the skin swings. If you have the same problem as me, try this great exercise.
A great exercise from a ballerina’s workout is the reverse pushup. This is exactly what it sounds like.
“Sit with legs extended and arms at sides, palms on floor with thumbs pointing forward and fingertips outward.” Remember to keep your shoulders squared and your neck straight. This will help you maintain posture. Keeping your core active in this situation will also help you maintain posture.
Bend your elbows and push back up. This exercise will stretch your back, work your triceps, and strengthen your shoulders.
I know that many of these exercises are rare to find. However, dancers work very specific muscles in their bodies in order to maintain the physique they need to “effortlessly” complete their routines. Remember that dancers can offer us a variety of workouts that can help use tone our bodies whether or not we are dancers ourselves. What are some strong workouts you’ve learned from dancers? Share with us in the comments below!