Summer is a time for sun, pools, vacations and relaxation. Oh wait, I can’t. I have dance.

Summer for dancers is the perfect time to incorporate cross-training and strength training into their schedule because their bodies aren’t faced with the demands of competition, and there’s plenty of time to try new things and recover from them.

 

Summer hustle brings Fall muscle.

While it may be tempting to find a Pinterest worthy “ab challenge,” focusing on the body as a whole will lead to more strength overall and fixing imbalances in the body which ultimately can get you closer to consistent skills, more endurance and increased flexibility.

 

Before you jump into a training program

  • Schedule time in your week for training. 3 – 4 days for 30 minutes is a great place to start and you can mix and match upper body and lower body exercises at each session.
  • Get help from a trainer or online resource if you need extra help with form and ideas.
  • Grab a friend to make training more fun!

Training Your Shoulders and Back:

What they help: Port de bras, turns, lifts, kick hookups, acro tricks, and overall posture.

Whether you’re at the barre or in the middle of an intense turn set, having strong shoulders and a strong back will help to support and execute your movements. Without engaging these crucial upper body muscles you run the risk of looking sloppy moving behind the music. Dancing with your shoulders in your ears and poor posture can be avoided with some of the following exercises.

  1. Banded shoulder press (15)
  2. Side plank rotation (10)
  3. Donkey kick burpee (10)
  4. Plank high five (12)

REPEAT 3 TIMES

Pro Tip: When doing multiple sets of planks. Alternate between hands and elbows to give your wrists a break.

 

Training Your Arms’ target:

What they help: Turns, lifts, tricks, acro and elongating your movements.

Has your teacher ever told you to snap your arms closed on an a la seconde or lift your arms while turning? What about lifting your partner in the air or supporting yourself for a front limber?

Bent “noodle” arms are distracting, can shorten your lines and overall make it harder to execute your skills and movements. Much like the shoulders and back, your arms work together to keep your upper body strong and in line. The following exercises will work your bicep, triceps and shoulders, the trifecta to clean, long lines.

  1. Push back plank (8)
  2. Bicep curl (15)
  3. Tricep plank jack (8

REPEAT 3 TIMES

Pro Tip: With smaller muscles like your tricep and bicep, 15 – 20 repetitions is the perfect place to start.

 

Training Your Core Muscles:

What They Help: Balance, turns, kicks, tricks, all skills

Most people train their core with dozens and dozens of crunches and forget that your “Core” includes your low back. The front of your trunk and the back work together to keep you stable for every dance movement imaginable. Even the most fluid style of dance requires core strength. Crunching can build the abdominal wall outward when the belly isn’t engaged correctly so the following exercises help dancers pull their belly in and rib cage down while also moving their arms and legs, mimicking dancing.

  1. V-up (8)
  2. Boat (30 seconds)
  3. Plank leg lifts (12)

REPEAT 3 TIMES

Pro Tip: If you feel any pain in your low back while planking, squeeze your tummy like you’re bracing for a punch and drop your knees to the floor.

 

Training Your Hips:

What They Help: Kicks, jumps, leaps, stability

Hips are one of the most overused and beat up muscles in a dancer’s body. Overuse injuries seem to be popping up everywhere so it’s important to keep them strong and stretched during the summer. Doing isolated movements focusing just on the hip will give them the focus they need to improve.

  1. Leg lift (15)
  2. Banded Mountain climber (12)
  3. Hip Drill (12)
  4. Sliders (12 each leg)

REPEAT 3 TIMES

Pro Tip: Stretch your hips in a runner’s lunge with your back knee down and chest up. Instead of rocking your body forward, simply tuck your butt and try to get both hip bones facing front.

 

Training Your Glutes and Hamstrings:

What They Help: Jumps, leaps, kicks, skills, tricks, acrobatics and endurance.

Your glutes ( butt muscles) and hamstrings are your body’s powerhouse! They’re responsible for all of your explosive movements and even kicks. Hamstring issues occur when the glute muscles aren’t firing correctly so the following exercises will target your butt first, and then the hamstrings second.

  1. Bridge (20)
  2. Banded monster walk (20)
  3. Split lunge jump (12)
  4. One Leg Deadlift (12 each leg)

REPEAT 3 TIMES

Pro Tip: Putting an athletic band around your upper thigh can make your hip bridge even more effective. They’re cheap and can be used in hundreds of ways.

 

Training Your Calves and Ankles:

What They Help: Turns, balance, jump, leaps and acrobatics

Your calves and ankles are so important and overlooked, especially for turns. Weak ankles can lead to bent knees which can hurt your hips and back too. Strengthening your ankles and the muscles surrounding them will not only give you beautiful lines in releve and en pointe, but they’ll keep you stable and save you from future injuries.

  1. Knee drive (12 each leg)
  2. Skater Hop (8 Each Leg)
  3. Passe extend. (12 each leg)

*option to come into releve each time

REPEAT 3 TIMES

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by  Katie Peyton Groven