The word “core” is actually pretty much self-explanatory; I want to say your core is the core of all your movements, but that seems a bit redundant, no? Each and every dancer knows just how important the core is, for the core is basically the source of your strength. Sure, you may be super flexible, but if your core lacks strength, you wouldn’t be able to hold your leg up very long, if at all. And it’s not just during adage where your core works; it has to work across all your movements. Put it this way: if your core doesn’t work, you’ll be flapping around like a fish on dry land, and your dancing will also be a flop. Therefore, to strengthen your core, we’ve put together 8 simple exercises which require no workout equipment at all, which means you can do them anytime, anywhere. No more excuses!
Also known as probably what is the go-to core-strengthening exercise nowadays, the plank is relatively simple, and it is what it sounds like: be a plank. The idea is to keep your body in a straight line as much as possible, bracing yourself with your forearms/hands, and your toes.
- Place your forearms on the floor, making sure they’re directly beneath your shoulders, and are parallel to each other.
- Stretch out your legs behind you, using your toes to support the rest of your weight.
- Make sure your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your heels, and your hips aren’t dipping down or your butt isn’t pushed up towards the ceiling.
- Ensure your head and neck is in a comfortable, neutral position and hold this position.
This plank is the basic plank position, but you can go on to modify them, such as using your hands instead of forearms, doing shoulder taps while planking, and even doing side planks among other variations.
2. Leg Raise
You might have also done this in class before? This is when you lie on your back, and lift your legs up, keeping them straight and reaching 90 degrees to your body, before lowering them down without touching the floor and raising them up again. Repeatedly.
- Lie on your back.
- Keeping your legs straight and together, raise your legs up till they make a 90-degree angle to your body.
- Slowly lower them down as much as you can without touching the floor.
- Your lower back shouldn’t be arching off the floor, so if you feel like your lower back isn’t in contact with the floor, try not to lower your legs too much at first.
Alternatively, some ballet teachers love to incorporate “beats” into this routine, where the legs are turned out and both legs make little scissor movements as they’re raised and lowered.
Okay, I’m not going to lie. Personally, I find this the absolute worst exercise in training core muscles because goddamn, this is tiring. So. Tiring. Even the name of this exercise is so… unappealing. But this is how you do it.
- Lie down on your back, and raise your arms above your head, extending them straight out.
- Simultaneously, lift your legs and upper body. (Let’s break it down further.)
- Your legs should be kept together and straight, and use your arms to help you lift your upper body, as in swing your arms towards the direction your toes are pointing towards.
- If done correctly, your body should be in a v-shape position, with your arms and legs forming one diagonal, and your upper body forming the other.
- Slowly return to the original position and raise your arms above your head again. Repeat to your liking.
4. Panther Shoulder Tap
I’m not sure why it’s called a panther shoulder tap rather than any other animal, but here we go.
- Start on all fours with your hands, knees and toes touching the ground.
- Just like how you would in a plank, keep your back straight and butt down.
- Keeping your toes and hands on the ground, lift both knees off the ground slightly, perhaps 1-3 inches.
- Bring your right hand up to tap your left shoulder, and then your left hand to tap your right shoulder. Keep alternating without jostling your hips.
It seems like a plank too, but at least you’re in a different position!
5. Side Bend
To do the side bend, you must first be able to do a side plank, which we will also teach you how in the steps below.
- Place your right hand on the floor directly underneath your right shoulder.
- Place your left leg above the right leg and allow the left foot to touch the floor if you feel comfortable this way. Otherwise, you can leave them just stacked.
- Let your left arm relax on your body. Your chest and whole body should be facing outwards, or towards your front. (As long as it’s not facing the floor or the ceiling you should be in the correct position.) Your supporting (right) arm should be straight, and your body should also form a straight line till your ankles. Congratulations, you’re now in the side plank position!
- From here, just dip your hip towards the ground and lift it up to the original position again.
- After you’re done with this side, repeat on the other side.
Alternatively, you can rest on your forearm instead of just your hand if you feel it’s really challenging, and you can also place the other arm on your hip/waist if your prefer.
Of course, this isn’t all that you can do when it comes to strengthening your core. There are probably hundreds of manoeuvres you could try, with other equipment such as gym bars, a ball, and dumbbells just to name a few. What’s your go-to core exercise, and do you have a routine to really work your core? Share your core stories with us in the comments below!
Embarking on the journey of self-discovery through dance.