Step By Step Off Season Training
by Katie Groven
There’s never a bad time to get stronger and incorporate cross-training and strength training into your season but during your off season when your body isn’t faced with the demands of competition you can focus on skill specific goals with plenty of time to recover.
Off Season hustle brings In Season muscle.
While it may be tempting to find a Pinterest worthy “ab challenge,” focusing on the body as a whole will lead to more strength overall and fixing imbalances in the body which ultimately can get you closer to consistent skills, more endurance and increased flexibility.
Before you jump into a training program
- Schedule time in your week for training. 3 - 4 days for 30 minutes is a great place to start and you can mix and match upper body and lower body exercises at each session.
- Get help from a trainer or online resource if you need extra help with form and ideas.
- Grab a friend to make training more fun!
Training Your Shoulders and Back:
What they help: Port de bras, turns, lifts, kick hookups, acro tricks, and overall posture.
Whether you’re at the barre or in the middle of an intense turn set, having strong shoulders and a strong back will help to support and execute your movements. Without engaging these crucial upper body muscles you run the risk of looking sloppy moving behind the music. Dancing with your shoulders in your ears and poor posture can be avoided with some of the following exercises.
- Banded shoulder press (15)
- Side plank rotation (10)
- Flutter Kick Shoulder Press (20)
REPEAT 3 TIMES
Pro Tip: When doing multiple sets of planks. Alternate between hands and elbows to give your wrists a break.
Training Your Arms:
What they help: Turns, lifts, tricks, acro and elongating your movements.
Has your teacher ever told you to snap your arms closed on an a la seconde or lift your arms while turning? What about lifting your partner in the air or supporting yourself for a front limber?
Bent “noodle” arms are distracting, can shorten your lines and overall make it harder to execute your skills and movements. Much like the shoulders and back, your arms work together to keep your upper body strong and in line. The following exercises will work your bicep, triceps and shoulders, the trifecta to clean, long lines.
- Push back plank (8)
- Bicep curl (15)
- Tricep plank jack (10)
REPEAT 3 TIMES
Pro Tip: With smaller muscles like your tricep and bicep, 15 - 20 repetitions is the perfect place to start.
Training Your Core Muscles:
What They Help: Balance, turns, kicks, tricks, all skills
Most people train their core with dozens and dozens of crunches and forget that your “Core” includes your low back. The front of your trunk and the back work together to keep you stable for every dance movement imaginable. Even the most fluid style of dance requires core strength. Crunching can build the abdominal wall outward when the belly isn’t engaged correctly so the following exercises help dancers pull their belly in and rib cage down while also moving their arms and legs, mimicking dancing.
- Dead Bug (20)
- Boat (30 seconds)
- Plank leg lifts (12)
REPEAT 3 TIMES
Pro Tip: If you feel any pain in your low back while planking, squeeze your tummy like you’re bracing for a punch and drop your knees to the floor.
Training Your Hips:
What They Help: Kicks, jumps, leaps, stability
Hips are one of the most overused and beat up muscles in a dancer’s body. Overuse injuries seem to be popping up everywhere so it’s important to keep them strong and stretched during the summer. Doing isolated movements focusing just on the hip will give them the focus they need to improve.
- Banded Mountain climber (12)
- Hip Drill (12)
- Hip Flexor Stretch (30 seconds each side)
REPEAT 3 TIMES
Pro Tip: Stretch your hips in a runner’s lunge with your back knee down and chest up. Instead of rocking your body forward, simply tuck your butt and try to get both hip bones facing front.
Training Your Glutes and Hamstrings:
What They Help: Jumps, leaps, kicks, skills, tricks, acrobatics and endurance.
Your glutes ( butt muscles) and hamstrings are your body’s powerhouse! They’re responsible for all of your explosive movements and even kicks. Hamstring issues occur when the glute muscles aren’t firing correctly so the following exercises will target your butt first, and then the hamstrings second.
- Bridge (20)
- Banded monster walk (20)
- One Leg Deadlift (12 each leg)
REPEAT 3 TIMES
Pro Tip: Putting an athletic band around your upper thigh can make your hip bridge even more effective. They’re cheap and can be used in hundreds of ways.
Your off season is a huge tool for your progress and success; so take the time to reflect on your goals and create a plan that’s going to help you increase your strength, endurance and reduce your injuries.
Katie Groven is an ACSM certified personal trainer, holistic health coach and two time world champion dancer. She is the creator of dancer-fitness.com an online exercise database designed to transform competitive dancers into athletic powerhouses. She has combined her 25 years of dance and her expertise in fitness to empower dancers of all ages to view themselves as athletes and gives them the tools to increase their strength, endurance, injury prevention, and overall performance. Katie travels the country cross training teams and studios including Larkin Dance Studio, home to World of Dance finalists Eva Igo, Ellie and Ava Wagner and The Trilogy. When she’s not training individual dancers or teams she’s spending quality time with her husband Chris, daughters Hazel and Amelia or growing her collection of Converse shoes.
Katie is also a Doctors For Dancers specialist and regular blog contributor for More Than Dancers, The Line Up. Listen to Katie speak about simple and effective ways to strength train dancers on the Dance Boss Podcast (Ep.56) Count me in Podcast (Ep.68) and Dance Studio 411 Podcast (Ep.30)
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