Summer is a great time for dancers to shift their focus from performing and competing to improving skills with strength training.
Although your dancers may use this time to recover from the previous competition season, the school year, and other demands — now is when they can focus on their individual needs as a dancer on your team and really hone in on specific skills by increasing strength.
It’s totally possible for your dancers to rest and recover and improve their skills at the same time.
Take a good look at how their last season went and what they can improve on before the next one begins.
Before entering the summer and making it a true improvement season, ask yourself:
- What skills went well this year?
- Which skills do you still want your dance team to master or develop?
- What feedback did you receive from coaches or judges?
- How do you personally feel about the last competition season?
Just as you have a destination in mind for a summer road trip, you need a specific goal (or destination) to work toward to help your dancers improve their skills. Having a clear idea about what went well and where you want to go is a great way to set yourself up for a productive and successful improvement season.
So, how do you make the most of your improvement season with strength training?
I’ll tell you!
One Piece At A Time
When you put a puzzle together, you examine each piece carefully so you’re able to complete the whole picture. When the goal is increased skill consistency it’s best to break skills down into pieces and strength train the muscles required for each piece. Examine each skill to see what “piece” needs more attention for your dance team to consistently perform that skill as a whole group.
Still not sure what you’re looking for?
Here’s your cheat sheet.
Problem → Turns are slow and timing it off
Areas to Train → Upper back, shoulders, and core
Problem → Hopping and dropping heel or supporting leg is bent
Areas to Train → Ankles, calves, quads, adductors, and glutes
Problem → Working leg is swinging or passé is dropping
Areas to Train → Adductors, hips, and core
Problem → Leaps are low and legs are uneven
Areas to Train → To increase front leg height, train the hips and core. The back leg is glutes!
Problem → Flexibility and turnout are lacking
Areas to Train → Train the rotators and increase hip mobility
Problem → Arm motions are sloppy
Areas to Train → Upper back and core
Choose exercises that address those muscle groups and make strength training a consistent part of your summer!
Goals That Improve Skills
Let’s identify a few key goals.
The ultimate improvement season training goals include:
- Mind-muscle awareness
- Overall strength
- Skill Consistency
Because I know (as well as you do) that once you’re in your in-season, or competition season, making time for strength training becomes much more difficult.
Here’s an ideal week of training during your off-season:
- 3 to 5 days of cross-training
- 10 to 30 minutes of workouts
For example, during practice or at home, you’d start your dancers with a warm-up. Alternate between core and glute exercises like Clamshells and Up-Down Planks.
- Start by putting your athletic band around your thighs. Lay on your side with your knees bent, and your ankles, knees, and hips stacked on top of each other. Bend your supporting elbow, resting your forearm on the floor, with your elbow directly under your shoulder.
- Lift your top knee while your toes continue to touch.
- Gently bring your knee back to the starting position.
This is the beginner version of clamshells. To challenge your dancers according to their level, feel free to do more difficult variations of this exercise from this video.
- Begin by getting into a plank position on the floor. Start on your toes and elbows.
- Transfer your weight to your bent left arm so you can straighten your right arm.
- Transfer your weight to your right arm, so you can straighten your left arm. You should be in a plank on your hands and toes.
- Bend your left arm as you transfer your weight to the right arm.
- Transfer your weight to your left arm as you bend your right arm.
Remember to keep your hips square and move your entire body up and down with control.
I like to do:
20 clamshells on the right
20 clamshells on the left
8 up down planks
Repeat the circuit 3 times
Customize your circuits just like you did with your in-season training plan.
Pick your exercises based on where you feel like your dancers need more mind-muscle awareness. If you’re not quite sure, you really can’t go wrong with a circuit that includes a core exercise, a full-body exercise, and an endurance exercise.
Have your dancers work through each exercise, then repeat.
But how do you know you’re doing the right amount of exercises and in the right order?
A membership to Dancer-Fitness.com is the easiest place to start! With hundreds of exercises and follow along workouts in addition to ZOOM meetings with owner and personal trainer Katie Groven – you’re sure to get a custom approach to your goals!