Body weight Strength training for dancers

Written by Dan Jang: Physiotherapist and Urban Hip Hop Dancer

More and more professional dance studios are implementing body weight strength training for dancers and for a good reason.

There has been a lot of focus on stretch and mobility for warm ups prior to dancing but the paradigm is shifting to strength as more and more evidence shows that it helps to prevent injuries.

Here are some body weight strengthening exercises for dancers that you can incorporate into your training/warm up. It will highly depend on the style of dance you practice so please feel free to pick and choose the exercises that you feel are relevant for you.

Squat for strength

Lower Body Strength Exercises:

– Single leg calf raise with legs straight and bent +/- hop – strengthening calves for ankle strength and stability, helps with balance as well helping your secure your body when you are on your toes more

– Single leg squat +/- jump – helps strengthen your legs and glutes which is essential for being stable on your feet

– Side lunge+/- jump – Great exercise to challenge the lower limb muscles that help you stabilise yourself after a side step or jumping movement or when you are trying to control momentum after moving to your side. Feel free to hold a set of dumbbells or ramp things up with a weighted vest if you feeling adventurous.

Calf Raises

Core Body weight Strength Exercises:

– Plank with one arm or leg off the ground – strengthening core and adding extra difficulty with taking one hand off. Great reinforce that stability especially if you do more one sided movements with one arm or leg.

– Side plank with one leg/arm up – strengthening the side of your body for more stability

– Bear crawls – Great for dynamic core activation and stability when you are moving your limbs

Upper Body Strength Exercises:

– Push ups +/- weight add weight if you want to hit reps for true strength, bodyweight push ups might fall into endurance especially if you do more than 15 reps, you can focus to do slower tempo to focus on building muscle mass or might choose to do the push phase fast for faster contractions mimicking faster movements that you might be using

– Pull ups +/- weight add weight if you can, I don’t think huge lats are essential to a dancer(usually looks a bit funny if you aren’t a Krumper) but do help with upper body control especially rapid downward arm movements or rapidly controlling an upwards arm movement.

Feel free to change tempo/speed to tweak the training to more dance specific training(Agility/power).

We hope that has given you some ideas on body weight strength training for dancers. If you do feel stuck, want more specific directions or have sustained a recent dance injury please click here to book in for a consult with one of our Physiotherapists. If you enjoyed this blog be sure to check out our blogs on Top 5 Running Drills and Physiotherapy for Golf.

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