Dance can be more physically demanding than most sports. Few other activities can strengthen and
tone your body and improve your posture better than dance. Dancers are known for their athletic
ability, their physical beauty, and gracious movements. Their performance depends heavily on their
endurance, so they need to work hard on developing their muscular strength. Without strength,
they would be unable to control their body weight which leads to potential injuries. That’s why
strength exercises for dancers are an essential part of their training.
Strength exercises for dancers should meet the specific requirements of the dance style. For
instance, break dance targets both upper and lower body muscles, while street dance mostly focuses
on the lower part of the body. Ballet dancers build significant strength in several muscle groups.
Ballet requires strengthening your back and core, your hip and gluteal muscles, quadriceps,
hamstrings, all the way down to your calves and feet.
Whether you’re a professional dancer or a beginner, doing strength exercises for dancers can help
you perfect your performance and protect your health in more than one way. Not to mention how
beautiful those long, lean muscles look when you’re dancing. If you want to dance more gracefully
and leap and pirouette more precisely but you’re not quite there yet, maybe the problem is low
body strength and endurance. Expanding your exercise regime can not only enhance your dancing
skills, but also save you from injuries.
Many professional ballet dancers do other exercises, such as Yoga, Pilates, non impact cardio, and
swimming, to increase strength, exercise diversity, and stamina. Therefore, whether you are dancing
in your living room or on a world-famous stage, there are simple strength exercises for dancers you
can do almost anywhere – which means there are no excuses. Grab some comfortable dancewear
and a mat, and get started.
Here are five of the best strength exercises that will help you gain the muscles needed for dance:
1 High-Intensity Interval Training
As the name suggests, high-intensity interval training (high-intensity intermittent exercise or sprint
interval training) is a type of interval training. As ballet requires superior cardiovascular endurance,
this is a perfect type of strength exercises for dancers. HIIT is a cardiovascular exercise strategy
based on alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise followed by less intense periods of
rest. You should repeat this pattern until you are too tired to continue. HIIT can do wonders for
dancers because it mimics the physical demands of performing dance moves that involve short
bursts of intense energy. For these exercises, you’ll need a stationary cycle or a skipping rope. You
can also sprint as fast as you can for 30-second intervals taking short 5-10-second breaks in
2 Low Impact Cardio Exercises for Dancers
Introducing this type of exercises outside your dance practice will be of great benefit to your body.
Since your typical ballet practice usually doesn’t involve enough cardio to increase your lung
capacity, you should add low impact cardio to your exercise routine. This safe method of exercise is
perfect for those who have concerns with joints or injuries, which makes it ideal for dancers, as
ballet can be brutal for your joints. Low-impact workouts focus on leaving one foot on the ground
and reducing stress or pressure on your joints. Examples of low impact cardio include cardio on the
treadmill, hiking, cycling, yoga, Pilates, etc. Since the impact is lower, this workout is easier on the
joints and muscles. Low impact cardio should be done twice or three times a week for 30 minutes.
3 Resistance Training
For resistance training, you will need elastic resistance bands. This simple exercise will strengthen
and tone the muscles needed for dancing. In addition, resistance training can help relieve the
discomfort and pain in your joints, muscles, and fascia caused by dancing. This exercise method is
great for your upper body, too. As every ballet dancer wants a slender, elegant silhouette, using
elastic resistance bands is better than using weights because it does not make your upper body
bulky. When doing this exercise, hold an end of the elastic resistance band in your hand, stretch your
arm out in front of you, then extend it to your side while stretching the band.
4 Core Strength Exercises for Dancers
Complex ballet moves can be hard on your back and cause permanent damage unless you have
strong core muscles. One version of this exercise designed to strengthen your abdominal muscles is
called ‘The Plank’. You should try to remain in a push-up position with your back straight and your
abdominal muscles contracted for up to 90 seconds. Your abs should support your lower back
muscles during this exercise.
Another version is a yoga-style position known as “The Bridge”. This effective exercise for dancers
targets your core, gluteus, inner thighs, and legs. You should lie down with your back on the floor,
your knees bent and feet flat. Contract your stomach muscles, then extend one leg maintaining your
toes pointed toward the ceiling. Then, lift your hips off the floor and try not to separate your knees.
Slowly lower your hips as much as you can without touching the floor, then lift again. Repeat 20
times on each side. You can do it demi-pointe if this exercise is too easy for you.
5 Strength Exercises for Dancers’ Feet
Dancers’ feet and ankle joints often suffer the most. Here are some effective exercises to improve
your feet’s strength and flexibility:
Sit on the floor and loop elastic tubing around the balls of your feet. Wrap each foot with
elastic tubing, one at a time, then slowly point your toes and flex 20 times on each side, as if
doing a demi-pointe.
Hold a tennis ball between your feet, at or above the ankle bones, as you slowly relevé and
lower in parallel.
One of the best strength exercises for dancers’ feet doesn’t require any equipment. Lift your
big toe while keeping the other toes on the floor, then switch. After that, place your toes
down, one at a time, then reverse. Move the big toe toward your midline.