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If you’ve ever watched shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” or “Dancing With the Stars,” you’ve no doubt noticed the enviable body types of many of the dancers on the shows. Lean midsections with visible abs, perfectly sculpted legs, and long, lean arms abound, but many people don’t realize that professional dancers don’t just dance in order to obtain their chiseled physiques. Dancing is a huge part of the equation, no doubt, but there are also key strength movements you can work on in at home workouts to help give you the long, lean, powerful lines of a dancer or ballerina. If you’re looking to incorporate a dancer workout routine into your fitness regimen, you might be surprised at the variety of ways it can help your weightloss journey.

What Do Dancers Focus on When it Comes to Fitness?

Dancers make their craft look effortless, but behind all the spins and twirls are thousands of hours of practice, plus a lot of strength and stamina. Dancers obviously spend the majority of their time dancing, but dancing alone isn’t enough to achieve their near-perfect bodies or keep them injury free. When designing their workout plans, dancers tend to focus on the following elements:

  • Increasing stamina and cardiovascular health
  • Building strength without straining the joints
  • Improving posture
  • Improving overall core strength

Improving Stamina and Cardiovascular Health

It’s no surprise that one of the major components of any dancer workout routine would be improving your stamina and endurance. Dancing is high-intensity and requires your best effort for several minutes at a time, so in order to execute each movement perfectly, even when you’re tired, you need to improve your stamina. Any dancer workout routine will include some cardiovascular exercise, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or running.

Building Strength Without Straining the Joints

Dancers want to stay injury-free, and one of the best ways to do that is to build strong muscles that help support the joints. With all the jumping that many dancers do, the impact can be hard on the joints, so finding low-impact ways to build strength is important to help prevent injury.

Improving Posture

You’ll never see a dancer hunched over on stage, but it takes some serious strength training to get to that point! Dancer workout routines will often emphasize movements that improve posture, such as strengthening through the lats and rhomboids, which help you to pull your shoulders back, and core work, which helps you sit and stand up straight.

Improving Overall Core Strength

Dancing requires a lot of twists and turns, and some styles require a lot of impact due to jumping around. Building core strength not only helps dancers get those ripped abs that everyone wants, it also helps protect them from back injuries, so it will be an important component of any dancer workout routine.

What is a Dancer Workout Routine?

So, what exactly does a dancer workout routine consist of? The possibilities are endless and will depend in large part on the dancer and their specific goals, but there are a few exercises that are popular among dancers because they emphasize the above elements and are highly effective. Incorporating a few of these movements into the choreography of your daily workout routine, along with 30 to 60 minutes of cardio training,  will help you get the dancer’s body of your dreams!

Full Body Workout Roll-Up

This core exercise is one of the most effective ab burners you can find, and it’s relatively simple to perform. Start by lying on your back with your arms by your sides, legs extended long, and your toes pointed. As you inhale, slowly extend your arms over your head and begin rolling up into a seated position one vertebra at a time, beginning at your head and working your way down. Continue until you reach a seated position. Lower your arms back down to your sides as you exhale, then slowly begin to roll down one vertebra at a time until you’re lying back on the floor. 

Squat Extension

Start with the feet hip-width apart and place a resistance band around the calves. Lower down into a squat, keeping your legs pressed against the band, as you extend your arms overhead. Shift your weight onto your right foot, then rise out of the squat as you extend your left leg behind you, engaging the glutes as you lower the arms. Return back to the squat with your arms raised, then repeat on the other side. This movement will target your legs, glutes, and core effectively while also helping to lift your heart rate.

Calf Raises

How do ballet dancers stay on pointe for hours on end? They strengthen their calves, of course! Calf raises are great not only for shaping your calves but also for strengthening and stabilizing the tiny muscles in your legs and feet. To perform some basic calf raises, simply lift up onto your tiptoes and then slowly lower your heels back down to the floor. The exercise can be made more challenging by performing calf raises with your heels hanging off the front of a step, or with your feet turned out at 45 degree angles with the heels together, like the first position in ballet.

Rotating Side Plank

To perform a side plank, start by laying on one side of your entire body with your elbow beneath your shoulder and your forearm extended away from your body at a 90 degree angle. Stack your feet on top of each other and then tighten your abs as you draw your hips up off the floor. Your body should form a diagonal line from your feet to your shoulder. To begin the rotation portion of the exercise, extend your top arm towards the ceiling, and then “thread the needle” by drawing your top arm down and placing your hand through the space between your bottom arm and your abdomen. You should feel a good twist through the obliques. Pause briefly, then rotate back up to the starting position. Make sure you switch sides so that you work the other side of the body as well.

How Can Dancer Workout Routines Help Me Lose Weight?

Dancer workout routines will not only help you build your fitness, they’re also highly effective at helping with weight loss. Dancer workout routines help with weight loss in the following ways:

  1. Building muscle. One of the major elements of dancer workout routines is strength training, which helps you build muscle and get stronger. Building muscle is a major part of weight loss, because the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns throughout the day. Although the old “rules” of fitness emphasized cardiovascular exercises as the best way to lose weight, we now understand that building muscle is a major component of successful weight loss because it helps boost your total daily energy expenditure. Burning more calories throughout the day means you’ll lose weight faster, but the added muscle will also help you achieve the lean, toned look you’re seeking.
  2. Boosting your stamina. The cardiovascular component of dancer workout routines is great for weight loss because you’ll burn a high amount of calories in a relatively short amount of time thanks to the intensity of the workout. Equally as importantly, you’ll increase your stamina and endurance, which will allow you to workout and dance for longer and longer periods of time as you continue to get fit. When you’re able to workout or dance for a prolonged period of time without getting exhausted, you’ll be able to workout more frequently, as well, because your body will start to recover faster from the effort. All of that means you’ll be able to lose more weight!
  3. Preventing injury. It happens to the best of us – we start a workout routine only to do too much too soon and get injured, forcing us to take a break from exercising. Before you know it, any progress that you’ve made is gone, and you weigh at least as much if not more than when you started. One of the great things about dancer workout routines is that you’ll be strengthening your core and other stabilizing muscles in the body, which will help to prevent injury. By focusing on low impact strength training exercises in addition to dance workouts and cardio, your body will be less likely to experience overuse injuries since you’ll constantly be changing it up. That means you’ll be able to keep working on your fitness without having to take breaks for injury, leading to big results.

Of course, while working out is a big part of what gives dancers their incredible physiques, you’ll also need to be practical and healthy about what you’re eating and drinking, as well. Keeping your total daily calorie intake below your daily calorie expenditure will help you lose weight, while fueling with lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will keep you feeling strong and make sure you have the energy to workout like a dancer.  And don’t forget about dancing, either! Dancing is a huge part of any dancer’s routine, of course, and you can find tons of great videos to get you moving and grooving from online fitness communities like Body FX