Cross training is important for all athletes, including dancers. Also known as functional training, this type of workout conditions your body to achieve optimum performance and focuses on strengthening muscle groups that are vital to your concentration. In dance, this means strengthening muscle groups that help you achieve a higher leg extension or jumps, quicker petit allegro, more power moving across the floor and many other performance-based movements.
Cross Training for dancers can be divided into two categories: strength training and cardiovascular exercise.
It’s important to understand the difference between each in order to tailor your cross training program to your goals. While there are benefits to each type of exercise, they are both equally important. A well-rounded program incorporates both strength and cardio components.
- CARDIO EXERCISE: any exercise that raises your heart rate.
- STRENGTH TRAINING: any exercise that uses resistance to increase muscular strength.
What type of workout should you be doing based on your performance goals? Here is a breakdown below.
Cardio focused goals include…
- Being able to dance your entire solo without getting out of breath
- Completing a petit allegro two times in a row without stopping
- General weight loss
Strength focused goals include…
- Achieving an above 90 degree extension
- Getting more air in a jeté across the floor
- More stability in ankle strength during pointe work
While you may ideally want to achieve all these things listed above, it is important to focus, strategize and strive to achieve one goal at a time. It is easier to find motivation to work towards these goals when you view fitness as an important aspect of your dance career.
If you’re feeling stuck or don’t know where to begin, here are some tips on where to start…
- Work with a certified personal trainer who will create a program for your goals.
- Create an accountability group with your friends. If you are all working towards the same goals, you’re more apt to achieve them.
- Make time in your schedule to put in the work.
- Remember: results take time. It could be 4-6 weeks until you actually notice a change in your cardio ability or strength.