A Dancer-Fitness member recently asked me — “How do I train my dancers to see progress in their skills, technique, and strength?”
She wanted to know HOW to structure workouts to make sure she wasn’t going too hard or too easy on her dancers. She wanted to get the most out of her Dancer-Fitness Membership.
If you don’t challenge your dancers a little bit, they won’t progress. And if you push them too hard, it could cause injuries. We don’t want either of those situations.
But doing a random selection of exercises, in a random order isn’t going to give you as much benefit as having a clear plan in place.
Whether you’re an instructor or a dancer…
I’m uncovering my member-only secrets to show you how to structure your workouts and see progress.
Here’s how it’s done.
Increase Your Dancers’ Progress
If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that strength training is pivotal to helping your dancers become stronger, flexible, and consistent with their skills.
I recommend picking two training plans to alternate between throughout the week. Do them twice at each practice as a circuit. Add time to each practice to continue increasing the difficulty for your dancers.
Sample Weekly Training Plan:
Training Plan 1: Do the circuit you’ve picked for your dancers twice. Have your dancers perform each exercise for 30 seconds and rest for 15 seconds. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes between circuits, then repeat.
Training Plan 2: Have your dancers run the circuit twice. Do each exercise for 30 seconds and rest for 15 seconds. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes between circuits, then repeat.
Training Plan 1: Run the circuit with your dancers twice at practice. Have your dancers do each exercise for 40 seconds and rest for 20. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes between circuits, then repeat.
Training Plan 2: Do the circuit twice at practice. Do each exercise for 40 seconds and rest for 20 seconds. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes between circuits, then repeat.
Training Plan 1: Run the circuit twice at practice with your dancers. Do each exercise for 50 seconds and rest for 20 seconds. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes between circuits, then repeat.
If your training plan has 8 or more exercises, feel free to add a 1-2 minute break halfway through the exercises.
The next week, you should pick 2 new circuits. You could do the same circuits again, but I typically have teams switch it up on a regular basis. If you keep doing the same circuits over and over again, your dancers’ bodies will get used to them.
The goal of a training program is to improve your dancers’ strength each week. And you do that by making things slightly harder each time they perform an exercise. You can make the exercises harder by adding time to the circuit (do not exceed 60 seconds, dancers’ form will get ugly and they could get hurt), adding bands, or adding jumps to the exercises.
But once you’ve exhausted all of these options to make an exercise more challenging and your dancers are still keeping up, it’s time to switch up your strength training program.
Variety keeps the body guessing and growing.
The best way to make sure your dancers are benefitting from the circuits is to make sure they have good form and are consistent with their strength training plan. Every single Dancer-Fitness training plan is designed to improve strength, endurance, and skills. Training plans with a specific focus like the Turn to Jumps Plan, have a few exercises targeted for that skill. But overall, every training plan gets your dancers where you want them to be — stronger.
I would recommend picking 4 new circuits every 2 weeks and increasing the difficulty with time increases, bands, weights, or adding jumps to corresponding exercises. For example, adding jumps to squats, using bands in monster walks, or adding 10 seconds to each exercise in a circuit.
Then, as you dig into the season, strategically pick training plans that complement the goals you and your team have.
Measure Your Dancers’ Growth
When your dancers have a goal to work toward, it motivates them. But don’t forget to measure where your dancers are now and where they’re at by the end of your season. This is proof for you and your dancers of how much they’ve grown in one season.
- Each time you do a workout, increase something.
- Increase time in a circuit by 5 – 10 seconds.
- If using weights, increase the weight by 3% each week.
Small increases in time or weight are just enough of a change to know that progress is being made each week. When your dancers are able to perform an exercise for a longer period of time or use heavier weights — that’s growth!
- Do a skills test at the beginning and end of your season.
- Set your timer for 30 seconds and have your dancers do as many jump squats as they can. Have them write down their count.
- Set your timer for 30 seconds and have your dancers do as many push-ups as they can. Have them write down that count.
- Set your timer and have your dancers plank. Every 15 seconds, shout out how long your dancers have been holding their plank. When they fall, have them mark down how long they made it.
You can collect this data as a team or have your dancers keep it in their dance bags for the next test.
Imagine how thrilled you and your dancers will be when they see consistent turns from a stronger upper body and the confidence they’ll have on stage.
If you’re going to take the time to add strength training into your classes, make it count. Make sure you’re structuring your training plan in a way that benefits the team and keeps your dancers motivated by testing their skills. Dancer-Fitness has training plans to help you get started.
Are you making the best of your summer to guarantee next season will be better than the last?