3 Ways Strength Training Improves Your SkillsFeb 25, 2021
Today’s post is by Team Member Katie Groven. Katie is an ACSM certified personal trainer, holistic health coach and the creator of dancer-fitness.com.
Every dancer wants to execute their skills with ease, and they want to master it on the first try. So, we prep and stand in relevé, jeté and kick across the floor, sit in our splits and yet, some skills are still out of reach.
Technique training can only bring your body so far and without the strength to hold a relevé or hit your full split in the air, you may have a hard time reaching your skill potential. Incorporating strength training into your regular practice schedule is going to not only improve your skills, but give you a secret blue print to your body that’s going to set you apart from everyone else.
Here are three ways strength training improves your skills.
1. Increase Power
Your glute muscles (butt muscles) are the most powerful muscle in your body and yet- they rarely get to shine! Our quadriceps (front leg muscles) are so big that they usually take over during skills. When we train our butt muscles to engage and fire when we want them to, you’ll fly off the floor and keep vulnerable joints like the hips and ankles safe on take-off and landing.
Warm up with 20 One Leg hip Bridges three times.
2. Placement and Control
Have you ever been told you have “noodle arms”? or told to dancer sharper and stronger? Most of the time, dancers struggle to hold themselves with control, which makes it hard to dance with precision because you lack strength in your core and upper back. Also, your skills can’t “pop” or you may struggle with turn timing if you lack placement and control.
Why is that? Well, have you ever seen a door on a broken hinge? Every time you want to open and shut it, you have to lift it or lower it into position first. That takes time and wastes energy.
When you lack strength in the shoulders and upper back, your arms aren't securely placed in their "hinge" and they can't move from point A to point B quickly, which takes time and wastes energy.
Also, strength training for your core is essential because this is your home base, your center of gravity, the one thing that needs to be solid if you're going to have any luck moving the arms and legs with control.
If the trunk (shoulders to hips) isn't rock solid, nothing else that stems from there will be stable.
To strengthen your upper back and shoulders do 20 Renegade Rows three times.
To work your core muscles in a dancer specific way, warm up with three rounds of 12-16 dead bugs
3. Balance out your weak side
You probably have a strong side, right? Literally. Most of the time it’s the right side and if it’s not, you’re unique! While it’s fun to celebrate and show off your skills on your strong side, most of the time this can lead to injury. Especially during competition season when you’re doing the same choreography for months. These overuse injuries come from repeatedly doing the same movements over and over again without a break and without giving any attention to the large and small muscles on the other side. Introducing unilateral exercises like the exercise below will allow you to strengthen each side of the body on its own which will keep your “strong side” injury free and give you more consistent skills on both sides.
Do the bowler squat 10 -16 times on each side, three times through.
A great time to introduce strength training is before class as a warm up or after class as a way to cool down and challenge your mind body connection. Start with 3 sets of each and slowly add more sets or a heavy object for an extra challenge. The stronger you are, the more control and connection to your body you’ll have, which means stronger and consistent skills are closer than you think.
Katie Groven is an ACSM certified personal trainer, holistic health coach and two time world champion dancer. She is the creator of dancer-fitness.com an online exercise database designed to transform competitive dancers into athletic powerhouses. She has combined her 25 years of dance and her expertise in fitness to empower dancers of all ages to view themselves as athletes and gives them the tools to increase their strength, endurance, injury prevention, and overall performance. When she’s not training individual dancers or teams she’s spending quality time with her husband Chris, daughters Hazel and Amelia or growing her collection of Converse shoes.
Katie is also a Doctors For Dancers specialist and regular blog contributor for More Than Dancers, The Line Up and Apolla Performance. Listen to Katie speak about simple and effective ways to strength train dancers on the Dance Boss Podcast (Ep.56) Count me in Podcast (Ep.68) and Dance Studio 411 Podcast (Ep.30)
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