In ballet, your core is one of the most important areas of movement and function while performing key ballet exercises. The core originates the majority of the full body movements that you perform. The core is also what determines your posture as it plays a large role in aligning your ribs, spine, and pelvis.
As a dancer this means a strong core is essential from standing in basic positions all the way to balancing and even turning! At a young age we develop muscle memory to keep the “ribs in” as you have heard from your ballet teachers many times. Holding those “ribs in” is just a start to learning core strength at a young age.
Contrary to what you may think, your core is actually more than just the abdominal muscles. The core consists of these major muscle groups including a few key back muscles;
External and Internal Obliques
There are simple exercises that you can do year round to help strengthen, tone, and firm your core for peak performance. You may even find that you will break some of the bad habits developed in ballet class after finding your core strength.
For Example; Many back injuries are caused by a weak core. If we work on strengthening the abdominal muscles and sides, we can take some of the stress off the back. All ballet movements will feel much easier and freer once you strengthen your core.
I have put together a comprehensive eBook with over 30 pages of core conditioning exercises for dancers. You can buy it now at www.balletstrength.com.
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!