Regardless if you’re new to dancing or you’ve been dancing for years, having the strength to properly execute dance moves is key. Improving your strength means better endurance throughout practice and having the ability to quickly move from one motion to the next during a dance competition. Increasing your strength takes time, so it’s important to listen to your body and take it one step at a time. Similar to learning a new dance, first start with the basics of getting stronger. Then, you can begin to increase the difficulty of your strength-focused exercises over time. To help you get started, we’ve outlined 3 key tips to improving your strength this year.
Strengthen Your Core Muscles
Although it’s important to strengthen your legs and feet, dancing also requires a super strong core. Your core controls much of your stability and balance. The stronger your core, the more easily you’re able to engage with other key muscle groups. Explore three core exercises, below, from the Rockettes:
- Plank: see how to execute this move here> You’re guaranteed to feel this yoga pose all over—from your arms to your glutes. Try holding the plank for 20 seconds at a time in 3 reps. As you get stronger, add more time to your hold.
- Bicycle: learn this exercise today> The bicycle crunch is great for a quick ab-tightening challenge. Check out how to get the proper form here and start out with 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Vertical Leg Crunch: explore this crunch now> Reach for the stars with the Vertical Leg Crunch Use your toes as a sort of visual goal to push yourself to reach as high as you can.
Focus on Those Feet
It goes with out saying that keeping your feet strong, and in tip top shape is incredibly important for dancing. Consider focusing specifically on exercises to better strengthen your articulate metatarsals, and improve your arches and instep. “By activating your arches, strengthening your insight and keeping the right alignment of the toes, you can avoid the development of bunions… Bunions can make feet unstable in balancing poses both on flat or demi-pointe” (Lazy Dancer Tips).
Looking toimprove your pointe? Explore these pointers (pun intended!) from Energetiks today:
- Slow, controlled rises through the demi pointe, first with both feet and then on a single supporting leg is a great exercise to incorporate into your warm-up.
- It’s not enough to concentrate on your feet once a month, or once a week… think about your feet each time you’re in class and continue doing exercises and strengthening your feet and ankle muscles daily. The more consistent you can be with your habits the better the results you’ll have.
- When you’re in class try visualizing the exact feet you would like and maintaining that perception all through class – treat every exercise like a chance to show them off.
An important element of improving a dancer’s strength is to overcome tightness. It’s not uncommon for a young dancer’s bones to grow more quickly than their muscles. When this happens, it leaves their muscles feeling extremely tight, which can be uncomfortable. It’s vital to work through this tightness properly, with the help of your dance instructor and through approved stretches that your teacher recommends. Explore a few ways to overcome tightness, below.
- Stretching with rollers or balls and warming up the fascia (tissue that connects to muscle and is interwoven from muscle to skin) will increase range of motion.
- Alternate pointing and flexing the feet and bending and straightening the knees before stretching the hamstrings.
- Encourage active or dynamic stretching so that dancers work through a position instead of just holding it.
Remember, it’s important to consult with your dance instructor before trying any of these!
“For very tight students, incorporate yoga into their routine to help them get more stretch and length in a safe way… dancers should work with correct placement and understand how to hold their leg when it’s low. Give enough exercises with the leg up so that they get stronger, but not so much that they get tense and tight” (Pacific Northwest Ballet).
Improving your strength will allow you to improve several aspects of your dancing. Whether you focus on building a strong, balanced core, or work to improve your pointe, make increasing your strength in some way a goal of yours in 2018. Talk to us at the studio about your strength goals! We would love to guide you along the way.