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What’s your Cross-Training Plan?

Cross – training may or may not be a missing link for you as a dancer. It’s possible you’ve got your cross – training plan all figured out but if you don’t, no worries, most dancers are a bit lost when it comes to cross – training.

To find the best way of eating for your needs – experimentation is required. This is true for cross-training as well. For some of you lifting weights will be ideal, for others Pilates or Pilates reformer sessions will work best and for others yoga or cardio might be beneficial.

Things to consider for some of the most popular cross-training options…

cross-training

1.Weight Lifting

  • Studies have shown that resistance training can be used to help improve mood.1
  • Frequency is often not a factor. The increase in strength is often similar whether you lift weights more or less frequency. 2
  • With improvements mentally and physically, lifting weights even just a couple times a week is worth considering.
  • Don’t fear “bulking up”. Women don’t have the hormonal capacity to get “big”.

2. Pilates Reformer or Mat Exercises

  • Ideal if you need more focus on abdominal strength and trunk stabilization. An easy way to determine if your core is weak is to assess any back pain you experience.
  • Pilates, especially reformer exercises, can help to balance out your muscles and physical proportions.
  • The physical movement of pilates can also have a positive impact on emotional well-being and self perception.3
  • Again, pilates is not likely to be something you have to do every single day to reap the benefits. For most, 2-3 times per week would be beneficial.

3. Yoga

  • For dancers, one of the greatest potential benefits of yoga is movement without a mirror. Taking the focus away from how you look and putting it instead on what your body can do is extremely positive.
  • Combining the goals of strength and flexibility, yoga is supportive especially if you experience muscle tightness or want to improve stability.
  • To go little deeper into the benefits of yoga for dancers, check out this interview with Louisville Ballet dancer + yogi Leigh Anne Albrechta.

4. Cardiovascular Exercise

  • Cardio can support your dancing but it’s essential to find a balance.
  • Hours of cardio each day can have the opposite effect leading to fatigue and less energy and stamina for class and rehearsals.
  • High Intensity Interval Training isn’t shown to have a more positive impact on stamina and endurance than sustained cardio like swimming, running or the elliptical.

Whatever you do for cross-training you should enjoy it!

Dancers are consistent with dancing. It’s what you love to do and it’s been drilled into your head that missing a day can be detrimental (not true but that’s a topic for another day). Whatever you choose to do for cardio, find something you enjoy that you can stick to. Just like with food – that’s the only way you’ll see the potential positive impact in your dancing.

If you’re unsure where to start, pick one thing and include it in your schedule a few times a week. Stick to it for 2-4 weeks so you can see how it makes you feel and how it impacts your dancing.

Throughout your time dancing, it’s a good idea to switch up your cross training and try new things. Keeping your body guessing can build strength in different ways and wake up your body in new ways that will help you to continue improving as an athlete and artist.

Improve your dancing with this missing link
  1. Publishing, H. (2018). Strengthen your mood with weight training. Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/strengthen-your-mood-with-weight-training
  2. Thomas, M., & Burns, S. (2016, April 1). Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A Comparison of High Frequency Strength Training to Lower Frequency Strength Training. Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4836564/
  3. Roh, S. (2018, April 26). The influence of physical self-perception of female college students participating in Pilates classes on perceived health state and psychological wellbeing. Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5931153/

Jess Spinner

Jess is a former professional ballet dancer turned Health Coach and founder of The Whole Dancer.

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