Ballet Strength-Part 1

Over the past few weeks, I have been working diligently on my new book and website for you all based on strength training for Dancers. This is uncharted territory when it comes to ballet, so I have to be sure that the timing of my launch is right. To get started, here are a few basic things that you need to know about strength training for Dancers and how it can improve your performance and extend your career.

Lets debunk the common strength training and cross training myths that you have heard from your Ballet teachers.

Myth #1: You will get bulky muscles- This statement is totally untrue. In fact, if you are doing the correct exercises, your muscles should form a more elongated look! Strength training increases lean muscle mass. If you are working with a certified professional who understands a Dancers body, you should have any problems with bulky muscles. Now not all of you can have access to trainers like myself or the New York City Ballet’s strength and conditioning team, so stay posted to my blog for valuable tips for exercises that you can do on your own!

Myth #2: Taking extra Ballet classes is the only way to improve- Now most of you know that this is not true, but there are some Ballet teachers out there who are still preaching this. Cross-training is a great way to work on your weaknesses as a dancer through strength training, Pilates, yoga, or even taking a few jazz classes!

Myth #3: Strength training causes loss of flexibility- Untrue. It actually improves range of motion of muscles and joints. It also enhances dance proprioception. This creates improved awareness of your center of gravity (think balance and turns). Any good strength training or cross-training program will also incorporate stretching towards the end of the workout.

Myth #4: Strength training is for Men- True, but it is also beneficial for Women.There are many wonderful benefits to strength training including increased range of motion, injury prevention, increased lean muscle mass, improves balance, increases and restores bone density, and enhances sports performance. Now just think of how much that can improve your dancing!

I hope that through this post, you have a better understanding of the real benefits of strength training for Ballet Dancers. Remember, your strength training program needs to be tailored towards dancers, not just any program will do. If you have any questions please contact me.

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my NEW Ballet Strength Book, Beginning Ballet Strength HERE!

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein Professional Ballet Dancer / Certified Personal Trainer

About Nikol Klein

Nikol Klein is former Professional Ballet Dancer turned Women's fitness expert. She currently works with Women all over the world as a personal trainer and Ballet Strength coach to dancers.

Posted on January 18, 2010, in Ballet Strength, Injury Prevention, Strength Training for Dancers, Technique Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I can’t wait to read the book. When will it be released?

  2. These tips are so helpful. Since I don’t have a whole lot of flexibility I have to make sure my jumps are powerful and turns are balanced to make up for it. Sounds like I may have found the answer!

  3. Hello Nikol,

    I am and adult learning ballet to help me as a dancer. I have never done ballet as a child. What exercises should we do to help us stand on demi pointe on one leg for extended amount of time? I used to think that it was strong abs and core, but in my adult ballet classes there’s a pilates teacher who still cannot do it!! Any suggestions would be much appreciated!


    • Hello Najwa,

      A great way to improve your balance is through abdominal conditioning. You also need strong hamstrings and glutes in order to keep you “on your leg.” I wrote a blog on Abdominal conditioning for dancers that you might want to check out for more info!
      Also, worrying about what others can and cannot do is not productive to improving yourself as a Dancer! Focus on the factors that you can control!

      Hope this helps!

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!! Great post and my 14 year old daughter dancer actually believed most of those myths. We’ve been talking about adding strenght training to her routine. We love your blog and look forward to the book and website!

  5. Hi!
    I was just recently wondering about this – I just began strength training as a supplement to my ballet classes. Although the class is not specifically geared towards dancers I was wondering if there are certain modifications we can make on our own to any strength training class that will prevent “bulky” muscles?


  6. I cant wait for your book!

    I have a question regarding strengthtraining… i wanted to challenge and target muscles differently than the way dance does but without stiffening up or affecting my form/technique. I’ve been trying out squats and lunges of all types for my legs and i have noticed it does affect my turnout and stiffens my quite abit with extensions… is this in my head?!

    • Elle,

      If you are doing the correct exercises, you shouldn’t lose turnout or flexibility. I would love to help you by designing a custom strength training plan specifically for your body. Does this sound like something you might be interested in? If so, email me

      Thanks for the awesome feedback, by the way!


      • Thanks Nikol, I’m actually hoping to purchase your book as soon as it’s out to solve that then..

        I must be doing something wrong, i’m on the inflexible side anyway (for a dancer) and i need to stretch more than most to keep my flexibility anyway so this has been an added annoyance.. Again, awaiting the release date! Good luck and thanks so much, you’re a pioneer with bringing weights into the ballet world 😛

    • Elle,

      My book has been released! Go to to purchase it.

      Happy Dancing,


  7. I have a question about strengthening the legs. My daughter is in a preprofessional classical ballet program and she has just recently gone through a growth spurt and her teacher says she needs more strength in her legs because she has grown several inches. What type of strengthening exercises do you suggest outside of ballet that she can do?

    • Hi Deseria,

      Please email me at where I can answer your questions in depth.
      In order to assess the type of strength training that is right for your daughter specifically, I will need to see video of her dancing.
      I do offer customized strength training for dancers, in fact I am working with quite a few professional dancers in major ballet companies!
      Looking forward to your email!

  8. Hi Nikol,
    I’m a fairly young ballet dancer. I’ve been dancing since i was eight with a teacher who danced professionally for years. I’ve had quite a few injuries but i had a reccent back/hip injury. The doctor was never really sure what exactly happened but i lost alot of flexibility in my hips, legs, and back. I have been stretching and strenghtening every day for a couple hours so that i am ready to get back to dance in the fall. But i’m not improving like i thought i would. Any tips on what i could do to speed up the process?

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