Dancer Warm-up Tutorial

ballet dancer competitive dance dance conditioning dance conditioning program dance warm up dancer 360 dancer warm up stretch and strengthening dancers Sep 08, 2022

Want to be fully warm and ready to dance at the start of each class but struggle to get their early to warm up?


Hey, what’s up Dancer. This is Gina McFadden of Dancer 360 - your go-to coach for all things Dancer health: body, mind and soul.


I know how it is…you are rushing from school, throwing on your tights and leo in the back seat, eating a quick snack and trying to get to dance on time. The LAST thing on your mind is a thorough warm-up. 


But if you watched the 3 Dancer Warm-Up Mistakes Your Probably Making - the wrong warmup (or NO warm up at all) can be detrimental to your body and to how you perform in class. Be sure to check out3 Dancer Warm-Up Mistakes Your Probably Making so that…you don’t make them anymore. πŸ˜‰


What if I told you warming up didn’t have to take 20 minutes of your precious time? And the secrets I’m sharing with you in this dance warm up tutorial with NOT leave you feeling stiff and cold when class starts - but warm and ready to dance from the GET GO of class. 


These expert tips I’m about to share with you will help you get warm before class - safely and quickly - so that you are ready to GO when your teacher walks in the door. 


By the end of this dance warm up tutorial, you will know how to choreograph the perfect dance warm up - leaving your prepared to an amazing dance class. My first step in this dance warm up tutorial is...


1) Dancer warm up with Cardio


Don’t you hate it when you’ve stretched for 15 minutes and still feel stiff when class starts? Me too.  One of the best ways to get warmed up quickly is to start with quick cardio - no, I’m not asking you to go for a jog! Completing just 25 jumping jacks will increase your heart rate, get the blood flowing to your legs and arms, and start to warm up your muscles.


Find jumping jacks boring? Try jumping jacks into a sumo squat or 5 jumping jacks facing the front, side, back and side!


If you only have a couple of minutes to get warm, a bit of cardio - like these 25 jumping jacks - is the BEST thing you can do to get warm before those battements.


I actually got my timer out and timed this for you! It took me 25 seconds to do 25 jumping jacks. Do you have 25 seconds to spare? I thought so.


Okay, my second step in this dance warm up tutorial is...


2) Dancer warm up with dynamic stretching


PSA: static stretching is killing your jumps and turns! πŸ˜±


This is no joke and is backed by science - when you static stretch (for example, with your leg up on the barre or sitting in ever dancer’s favorite frog stretch, you are actually decreasing muscle power for UP TO ONE HOUR later. 


What to do instead of static stretching? Dynamic stretching, of course! Let’s say you want to loosen up your hip flexors. I used to lay on a foam roller for five minutes to stretch out my hip flexors. This isn’t BAD - I’m not saying don’t do it, but there is a better way when warming up for class. For best practices, we choose stretches that move and that utilize muscle activation as well, or dynamic stretches.


In our hip flexor example, I might come into a crescent lunge and then stretch my front leg before going back into the lunge. I might repeat this two or three times on each leg.


Dynamic stretching is a time saver, my dear, busy dancer! Dynamic stretching is actually doing double duty! We are stretching (the right way!) and we are activating muscles that will help us dance with power and stamina. This might take 2 minutes. (I’m no math whiz, but if you add the 30 seconds of jumping jacks to our 2 minutes of dynamic stretching, we are still only at 2.5 minutes!)


Okay - now for my third step in this dance warm up tutorial...


3) Dance warm up with Range of motion 


Want better battements? You need to warm up your range of motion In your legs, arms and spine. 


To warm up your range of motion in your arms, simply take a few arm circles forward and back. To warm up your range of motion in your legs, do a few sweep-y leg swings to the front and back and then side to side. Be sure to be gentle here, we’re not looking for a full grand battement to your ear. To warm up range of motion in your back, take a couple of cat/cow stretches, side bends, and gentle twists from your core (not your shoulders).


And my final step in this dance warm up tutorial...


4) Dancer Warm-Up with Muscle Activation


Why activate muscles? There’s tons of science out there on the topic! But in basic english (which is how I like to rollπŸ™‹πŸ»‍♀️): Why activate muscles? Because you can’t use muscles that haven’t been “switched on!” 


We are going to activate the most important muscle groups for dancers by doing the following: Squats, clam shells and arm lifts.


Squats: think of squats as ugly plies! Begin with your feet parallel. (Yes, parallel, my bun head friends!) Then begin to bend at the hip and the knees at the same rate, sitting your hips back and down. Then, squeeze your glutes as you come back to standing tall. Do this 10 times.


Clam shells: can be done standing or laying down, with a band or without. The idea with clamshells is to activate your deep turnout muscles. Let’s say around 10 slow, controlled clam shells on both legs.


Finally, arm lifts. This is going to activate the shoulders, setting your posture up for success in class. I want you to lay all the way down on your stomach. Activate your abs by lifting your navel up off the floor, toward your spine (keep this activation throughout). Bring your arms to a "V" and point your thumbs toward the ceiling. Then lift the thumbs upward and lower back down. Do 10-15 reps before you open your arms to a la second. (Remember to keep that navel lifted toward your spine!) Now, squeeze the space just between the shoulder blades to gently lift your a la second arms off the floor. Do this 10-15 times.


There ya have it! My step-by-step tutorial to a fantastically effective dance warm up. You now have to step-by-step tools to choreograph the perfect dance warm up, so that you are warm from the GET GO when class starts: 1) dance warm up with cardio 2) dance warm up with dynamic stretching 3) dance warm up with range of motion and 4) dance warm up with muscle activation.


If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out to learn more about my Dancer 360 Course. Not only do I teach you how to maximize your flexibility and gain power in your dancing but I also teach you how to grow your confidence and tap into your unique artistry. Visit for more details on how you can level up with me: Body, mind and soul in just 20 minutes a week. 


We will see you back here next 360 Thursday, but until then, Dancer, keep shining on with all that you are.




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