How cross-training can make you a better dancer

How cross-training can make you a better dancer

How cross-training can make you a better dancer

As every dancer in the world knows, practice makes perfect. And while nothing will ever replace the work you do in the studio, did you know that there are things you can do away from the barre or the dance floor that will help you become the dancer of your dreams? Let’s find out how cross-training can make you a better dancer

Whether you’re a professional dancing six or seven shows a week, a competition dancer, or if dance is something you do in your spare time because it’s your passion, you’re bound to have artistic and aesthetic goals for the dance style that you train in. Maybe you want to achieve longer lines, explosive jumps, tighter turns, or improve your fluidity in transactions; whatever your goals are and whatever level of dancer you are there’s a cross-training approach out there for you.

Weights can be a dancer’s best friend

Many dancers (including some of the men!) stay away from the weights room when they go to the gym, preferring to hit the treadmill or elliptical instead. But weights can actually be a dancer’s best friend, and don’t worry, you won’t end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger after a training session.

Training with weights falls under resistance training, which in simple terms will strengthen your entire body, building lean tissue and raising your metabolism in the process.How cross-training can make you a better dancer

Dancers really don’t need to follow the same weight lifting program that a bodybuilder or powerlifter would, but the basic compound lifts of squat, deadlift, row, bench press, and overhead press will go a long way towards improving your posture as you dance, your strength, and your overall endurance.

Work your Powerhouse with Pilates

Dancers have been drawn to Pilates as a method of cross-training since Joe Pilates himself opened up his Contrology gym in New York City, and for good reason. The method is often credited with sculpting lean, long physiques, although in truth that’s also hugely down to genetics and nutrition, but regular practice will improve your core strength, quality of movement and overall flexibility.

In 2020 there are two distinct Pilates “camps” – Classical and Contemporary – but they’re both founded on the same principles of developing bodily control by connecting and moving from the Powerhouse and using eccentric contraction. The Powerhouse, also known as the Core, includes your spine, your shoulders, hips, and glutes. All of the movements in the Classical Pilates repertoire target and utilise the Powerhouse, and whilst Contemporary Pilates methods introduce different variations or broken down exercises, methods like BASI Pilates, Stott Pilates and Polestar Pilates still keep it as the focus.

Connect with your breath

Yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise in the world, and it is often recommended to those whose profession or lifestyle causes them to be sedentary for most of the day, but yoga is good for every body, particularly dancing ones. Regularly practicing mindful movement like yoga can add new layers to your dancing by teaching you to connect with your body and breath on a much deeper level.

There are so many forms of yoga being taught across the world nowadays, but at their heart they’re all founded on a practice of moving with the breath. Rather than trying to hit perfect positions and reach an end goal, yoga is more about doing and experiencing. It’s a mindful practice, and you can take that approach with you into the dance studio.

Jump for your life!

All professional athletes and sportspeople (yes, even swimmers), factor specific plyometrics training into their strength and conditioning programs, but it’s something that the dance world has only really embraced during the past two decades or so, thanks to the emergence of sports science within the field.

No matter how different they may look, whether they’re jumps from two legs to one, one leg to two, or one leg to the other, jumps all begin and end the same way – plie (knee bend), push off, elevation, descending plie (landing knee bend). What plyometrics training does, even at a very basic level, is train those metabolic pathways that increase explosiveness, leading to more hang time in the air and softer, smoother landings – you’ll be like Baryshnikov in no time!