Dancer Fitness

fitness for dancers

Where are you in your season right now? About to take the stage at Nationals or are you waiting for auditions and a brand new team?

No matter where you’re at in your season, I want to walk you through the steps that lead you and  your team to success.

 Start implementing my proven system of strength training into your routine now to prepare yourself for a successful competition season. 


Take a look at your scores from your previous competition season and have a chat with your team (or just your leadership team). Decide what went well during the season and where things need to improve. Did you have skills that performed really well? Perhaps your double turns were successful. And by the end of this season, you want your dance team to nail a triple.


What didn’t go well? Were your dancers losing endurance? Did their flexibility never get quite where it needed to be? Evaluate what went well, what needs to be fixed, and make a skill wish list. Remember, these can be skills that are already going well but can be improved. Or they could be skills you still have to develop.


Once you have your skill wish list, create your goals around these skills. Be sure that your goals are measurable.


 Instead of just saying that you want your team to be able to perform a skill well, a measurable goal would be a full team triple by your last competition. If you’re in your off-season, it could be to execute a full team triple by your first competition. Make it measurable so you know if you reach your goal or not.


Now you have your skill wish list. Break down your goals even further — organize them by body parts. You don’t need to be a fitness expert to understand that if your dancers are dropping their heels, they may need stronger ankles. Low jump height? Legs and glutes are a good focus. Maybe your dancers hunch their back when they kick. Spend some time on core strength. Sloppy arms and turn timing issues? Strengthen the arms and the back.

When you have a good idea of what your goals are, you’re able to use strength training effectively to improve your dancers’ technique. Let’s say your goal is to execute a full team triple by your last competition, and you’ve identified the reason why your triples are currently not working well. For example, your turns are inconsistent because your dancers are dropping their heels. So you know your dancers need to spend a little bit more time strengthening their ankles. 


You’ve got the goals. Now you need a training plan. Decide how much time and practice you can allocate to your strength training. How many days are realistic? 

If you take away one thing from this blog, remember…


I recommend setting a goal of 10-30 minutes of strength training per practice. Or 3-5 times a week. If neither option is possible, try five minutes of intentional strength training. Choose exercises that focus on skills that need improvement. 


Consistent strength training has proven to be more beneficial than one workout throughout the week. I’ve seen it time and time again. Consistency over intensity gets better results for your dancers.



Do 2 or 3 full body exercises. Have your dancers go across the floor or do them in the center. This should take you about 3 to 5 minutes.


Focus on dynamically stretching the low back, hips, and glutes. We’ll save the static stretches for the end of practice when the body is warm and limber.


Pick a glute and a core exercise. Alternate between both of them so your dancers have four exercises total. Start with a glute exercise for 40 seconds, then go right into a core exercise. For example, you could do 40 seconds of clamshells, go right into a 40 second plank, get back into 40 seconds of clamshells, and back into your 40 second plank. 


Pick 6-8 exercises for your circuits based on the goals you created. Perform each one of those exercises for 30-40 seconds with 20 seconds of rest in between. 

I love circuits because everyone is challenged according to their age, strength, and abilities. Dancers don’t need to worry about hitting a certain number of repetitions. Instead, they have fun moving their body to the music, doing as many reps as their body is able to do, for a set amount of time.


Strength training improves cardiovascular endurance and builds muscle endurance. I recommend doing your circuits at the end of class if your dancers are struggling with skill consistency and endurance. But if your dancers lack strength in their jumps or just can’t hold their passé very high, circuits can go at the beginning of class. 


It’s completely possible to help your entire dance team improve their skills. Simply follow my proven system that leads to a successful competition season for you and your dancers.


Step 1: Define your goals 

Step 2: Break down goals by skill and muscle group

Step 3: Plan consistent training 

Step 4: Follow the five-step strength training formula


And remember to have fun during strength training with your dancers. Ask your dancers for song requests. Or do the exercises with them so they enjoy strength training — they might even look forward to it.

Katie Groven is an ACSM certified personal trainer, holistic health coach and two time world champion dancer. She is the creator of  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)

Instagram @dancer_fitness.com_

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