Weight Training for Ballerinas: What Exercises to Do & What Exercises Not to Do

Proper strength training can be the key to your ballet performance.

Proper strength training can be the key to your ballet performance.

If you want to be your best as a ballerina, you need to be strong. While it can be tempting to skip the strength training routine to keep a thin frame, you can actually improve your skills and reduce your risk of injury by performing easy strength moves that won’t add bulk. Focus on maintaining your strength in those key areas essential to ballet dancers.

Work the Hips

The strength of a ballerina’s hips can go a long way in making the most of her talent. Because ballet dancers are so dependent on hip flexibility, according to "Dance Magazine," ballet dancers must be strong enough to make full use of their hips. This is especially crucial in maximizing a turnout. If you want to increase hip strength, focus on exercises that incorporate the hip flexors and glutes such as bridges, clams and side planks.

Target the Abs

Dancing legend Dwana Smallwood is known for her amazing abs, which, she told "Dance Magazine" allows her to "stand with authority." If you want to do the same, you need to keep a strong core. Because strong abs are key to a flexible back, increasing the strength of your core will do much more than just help you look good on stage. It will help you perform at a higher level and stay injury-free. Try incorporating Pilates workouts into your training and doing sets of ab-specific exercises like planks and abdominal holds.

Focus on the Ankles and Feet

With your career riding firmly on what’s below your knees, strong ankles and feet are what give you the ability to wow an audience. Some of the best exercises for ankles and feet include the use of resistance bands, reports "Dance Magazine." By looping a medium-weight band around the balls of your feet and moving them against the resistance of the band in point and flex motions, you can work muscles deep within the feet and ankles and increase their strength and stamina. Do sets of 10 to 20 repetitions or go until the muscles fatigue.

Moves to Avoid

Most strength moves aren't completely off limits to ballet dancers, but there is one major rule of thumb to follow. Women’s bodies don’t naturally have the ability to develop the same muscle mass as men, but to avoid adding power when you really need stamina, focus on doing higher repetitions with light weights instead of pushing heavier weights for fewer repetitions. This can help you increase your muscles’ ability to work longer and fatigue less quickly without adding much size.

 

About the Author

After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.

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