In recent years, cross training has become popularly integrated into dancers’ routine. What is cross training? It refers to training in a sport or activity that is other than your main focus to improve on certain skills and fitness that is required by your main activity (in this case, dance).
Cross training for dancers is a great way to reduce the risk of injuries and increase strength. By doing so, it helps dancers to become more free on stage and enables them open up artistically. Often times dance companies’ repertories have also become more demanding and varied where dancers are required to perform a wide range of choreography that involves high level difficulty of movements.
If you’re looking to get into cross training and workout outside of the dance studio, here are 5 cross training recommended for dancers!
Pilates is a great cross training exercise that targets specific muscles and joints. It helps you to be more aware of the different parts of your body that needs more attention, for example on areas that are either weak, overstretched, or tight. The more aware you are of your body, the easier it is for you to fix the areas and prevent future injuries.
Other than that, it also helps to improve your core strength which comes hand in hand for training strong technique. By strengthening your core, you are reducing stress on your lower back . This also helps to give you stability and allow your arms and legs to move freely in your dancing. Eventually, this translates into longer extensions and better movement quality.
Swimming can be both a cardio or a strengthening workout beneficial for the whole body. When you’re in the water, the decompression will allow your joints to move without gravity affecting them.
Try running underwater or tread water in the deep! It can be your form of cardio workout to get your heart rate up without any joint pressure when you’re running on ground. For dancers that want to work on the upper body, good news! There’s plenty of different strokes to choose from. The backstroke is especially effective for strengthening the back of the torso and shoulders while stretching the front of the chest.
Yes, quads and glutes, get ready to feel the burn!
If you’re looking for cross training exercises to build up your quads and glutes, spinning is a great way to do so. However, to prevent from over bulking your thighs and legs, try riding at a lower resistance.
Also, according to Michelle Rodriguez, physical therapist and founder of the Manhattan Physio Group, it’s recommended to sit upright rather than riding a road or racing bike. The muscles in front of the hips tends to shorten when leaning forward on handles over a long period of time. So work on practicing breathing with a good upright posture!
Yoga might be the perfect way to destress, stretch, and strengthen your body all in one go.
Practicing yoga helps in strengthening while elongating your muscles. The slower pace of a yoga class can also help you become more aware of your body.
For example, instead of just balancing and practicing stability, you’ll have the time to check your weight placement over all four corners of your feet. Perhaps you might even be brought to attention the bad habit of how your ankles roll when you are balancing.
All these can be practiced in precise, deliberate, and conscious movements. Also, who doesn’t love some meditative, zen moments!
Strength Training (Weight Lifting)
There are a lot of misconceptions about weight training for dancers. It is commonly believed that weight training will get you big musculature. The truth is, it is more beneficial as dancer to have more basic strength for instances such as partnering work (lifting your partner or being lifted) and holding your positions.
To build strength, lift heavier weights with fewer repetitions. Lifting lesser weights with more repetitions will only build bulk!
Everything in moderation!
Remember, even in cross training, do it in moderation. Create a fine balance between cross training, dance practice, and rest.
Cross training is amazing, but if you’re able to integrate what you learn and apply it to your dance, that’s where your dance growth begins!
If you’re heading into performance season and stage nerves are getting to you, check out our tips on How To Cope With Performance Anxiety and Boost Your Performance!
Continuously searching for an artistic voice, spotting muses, and drawing inspirations.