Professional dancers know that a strict training regime will extend beyond the dance floor. While creativity, artistry and technique are all essential to a dancer's success, conditioning outside of dance class is an important part of any performance. Dancers require muscle strength and endurance to perform at their best. Interval training, such as sprints followed by a lighter form of cardio, can build leg muscles as well as overall cardiovascular endurance for the dance.
Dancers rely on strong leg muscles such as their quadriceps and hamstrings to perform jumps and other complicated movements. Strengthening the muscles that surround your joints can protect them from injury. Sprinting builds the muscles in your thighs by utilizing fast-twitch muscle fibers for quick bursts of power. A regular sprint interval workout will build the leg muscles you need to power your most explosive moves on the floor.
Strong ankles are especially essential for pointe work in ballet, but almost all styles of dance require strong ankles to achieve the best technique and avoid injury. Strong ankles allow a dancer to explode off the floor for elevated jumps and to perform complicated footwork. Hill sprints can build the strong ankles you need by improving your ankle flex and knee lift, allowing you to push off the floor with power.
According to the Mayo Clinic, interval training that involves intense bursts of exercises followed by a lighter form of cardio such as a brisk walk or jog can improve cardiovascular endurance. Building muscular and aerobic endurance can help a dancer perform for longer intervals without experiencing fatigue on the dance floor.
Weight management is an important part of a dancer's training. If you are overweight, your extra body mass can keep you anchored to the floor, hindering movement and partner lifts. If you are underweight, you may not have the muscle mass needed to power jumps and complex moves. Maintaining the correct body weight can be crucial to your success. Dancers can use sprint training to burn calories quickly through intense bursts of exercise. Sprint training must be utilized in the context of an overall fitness and diet plan to manage weight effectively.
- Mayo Clinic: Rev Up Your Workout with Interval Training
- Dance Magazine: Advice for Dancers
- Brian Mac: How Hill Sprints Make You Run Faster
- Dance Magazine: Your Body
- The Telegraph: Sprinting Speeds Up Metabolism and Improves Health
- The New York Times: Tips for Ballet Dancers on the Art of Staying Well
Joelle Dedalus began writing professionally for websites such as PugetSoundMagazine.com in 2009. She received her B.A. in English education at Iowa State University and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston, where she is developing a manuscript on literary travel. Her areas of expertise include travel and literature, the outdoors and the arts.