Dear JJ Blog,
In dance recently, we’ve been doing a lot of cardio all of a sudden… and I’m struggling. I’m good at abs and more stationary workouts, but when we do cardio I can’t breathe and feel like I’m going to collapse. It’s really embarrassing in class and I want to know how to keep from feeling like I can’t breathe. Thank you!
Great question! Ab and other more “stationary” exercises you may be doing are most likely strength-based instead of cardio. While strength exercises and ab work can get your heart rate up, it won’t have the same intensity as a true cardio push you get from rehearsing a dance or going for a run.
Just like the importance of overloading the muscle to get stronger, the key to getting better at cardio strength is to continue pushing your limits outside of what is “comfortable.” The good news? It is possible to increase your cardio capacity in order to last longer during the hard pushes in dance class. This will also translate to performance – you may find you’re able to focus less on how tired you are during a long piece and focus more on the technique and artistry.
The work you need to put in to up your cardio game will most likely happen outside the dance studio. Try your best to keep a schedule and incorporate 2-3 sessions into your week. If you’re new to cardio, start with 20 min. of walking/jogging for a few weeks. If you are able to talk comfortably during the workout, you are working below your threshold and are ready to take it up a notch.
The next step is to choose a cardio exercise, such as running, jumping rope or biking. Push yourself for a sustained period of time (20-30 seconds max). Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat. Continue to repeat this for 8-10 rounds. You can continue to add rounds or increase the seconds per exercise once feel stronger.
While this is just one example of increasing your cardio ability, the possibilities are endless. Notice how each week you are able to do more in dance class. Keep us updated on your progress! All it takes is a little focus and good, hard work. You can do it!