Forum: Advice / Strengthening

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Strengthening
Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links! (karma: 7)
By Emmamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6898, member since Mon Nov 29, 2004
On Mon May 28, 2007 07:13 PM
Made sticky by Theresa (28613) on 2007-07-10 16:46:23

This board was requested by me over a year ago, and I’m so glad that it’s worked well, here’s the link to the thread requesting it, and I hope that it’s helped more people than just me. I’ve decided to create a thread including the different things I’ve learnt from the board, that I wouldn’t even have known where to ask before, and give people something that they can work from too.

Ok, so this is my shameless attempt at a sticky (you know, I might as well admit it – I want the glory! But it doesn’t mean I’m going to get it.) I'm such a loser! lol

Why strengthen?
Both male and female Dancers need to be strong as well as flexible. I’ve found out that it’s no good to be able to hold your leg up at 170 degrees, if when you let go, you’re only able to keep it at 90 degrees to your body. Or having amazingly flexible banana feet if when you go up on demi-pointe, they’re way too floppy to support your weight. I work on both strengthening and stretching at the same time, for this reason.

I know this was made for triathletes, but it’s got some very good points about why every athlete needs to strengthen (and here is not the place to have that debate – dance is an art that needs someone who is an athlete and an artist): www.slowtwitch.com . . .

Before you start any exercise however, if you have any injuries, make sure that it’s ok to carry out these exercises, but I’m sure you all know that already. And remember that just like stretching, when you strengthen you need to warm up – doesn’t need to be high energy, just enough to let your body know that it’s about to do more work.

Anyway, Going to work from the bottom up, since bodies have to be strongest from the bottom up – because they hold the most weight from there. I’m going to give a few exercises that I work on to strengthen each body part, and a few links as well.

Feet and ankles
I have a few exercises to strengthen my feet. Some of which were given to me by my podiatrist, and some I learnt here on DDN.

Pick up pens / other small objects with your toes. This works internally. Really helps – I’ve found a big improvement.

Roll a golf ball / similar sized ball along the floor using your foot. Also works on the muscles internally. Not tried this one properly yet, but the little I have, I do feel it working.

Do releves over and over. It helps to keep a rhythm, I usually do these for one fast song on both feet, and one slow song on both feet. Doing both quick and slow rises.

Point and flex your feet on repetition.

Something simple that really helps to strengthen ankles but needs good knees is light jumps, either on both feet, or from foot to foot.

Circling your feet from your ankles or making the letters of the alphabet is better for those with bad knees, and good because it can be done anywhere, but personally, I find this one annoying, because the bones in my ankles do weird things. (not quite sure what, but no matter)

It might help to look at this thread, which was created before the strengthening forum: www.dance.net . . . PurkleStars has some good advice – I followed it, and found a difference.

This is also an excellent link regarding strengthening your feet and how important they are to keep them strong.

In addition to these exercises, you could try using a theraband for resistance, read more: www.dance.net . . .

legs and knees
A huge number of dancers (and other active people) have problems with their knees. However one should remember that one weak muscle is “helped” by other stronger ones, so all muscles should be worked on together.

I requested help to strengthen my knees here on DDN. I received one reply,

Stufu wrote:

Easy. Do one-legged plies turned in.


So I looked up some others.

Knee Exercise: Leg Lifts
Warm up your knee joints by walking around awhile before you start this knee exercise.
· Choose your location.
· Beginners can do this knee exercise by sitting on the floor, or on a firm bed.
· Make sure your back is well supported. Lean back on your hands, or against the headboard.
· Place a pillow under your right knee.
· Lift your right foot a few inches, and feel the back of your knee push into the pillow.
· Hold for 10 seconds, then rest your leg.
· Repeat this exercise until you feel a slight burning in the front of your leg. This knee exercise strengthens your quad muscle, which will help to support your kneecap and knee joint.
· Repeat with the left leg, first placing the pillow under your left leg.
· As with your right leg, hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Continue this knee exercise until you feel a slight burning in your quad muscle.
Do this knee exercise at least twice a day, increasing the number of leg raises as your quad muscles get stronger.
Note: When you can easily do this knee exercise for 3 minutes or more, you can add more resistance by sitting in a chair, straightening your leg and lifting it. Keep your leg straight while lifting, but do not lock the knee.

Knee Exercise: Wall Slide Strengthens Thigh Muscles
Be sure to walk around a bit and do some gentle stretching before you begin this knee exercise.
While doing this knee exercise, wear sturdy shoes that provide good support for your feet. Make sure you are standing on carpet or a non-slippery surface.
· Stand with your back against a wall, and your feet straight in front of you.
· Slide down, keeping your back against the wall, until you are in a slight sitting position. Slide down only as far as you feel comfortable; when you get stronger you will be able to slide into more of a sitting position.
· For the first few times you do this knee exercise, hold the sitting position for a few seconds, then slide back up. As your quad muscles get stronger, you can hold the sitting position for up to 20 seconds.{/li]
· Starting from a standing position, repeat this knee exercise a few times at first. As you feel stronger, you work up to repeating this knee exercise 10 times.
When you are finished, walk around a bit to give your knees and quads a gentle stretch.
This knee exercise can be repeated several times per week.

Taken from: about.com Author: Sharon O’Brien

A great post by sweetyface17 gave the following advice:
Stand with your feet a little further than hip width apart. Point your feet outward at a slight angle.
Hold your arms in front of you as though you were a praying mantis and keep holding them there as you do the exercise. This helps to keep your upper body straight. Do not bend at your waist — you don’t want to work your torso. You want to work your legs.
If you have trouble balancing, stand behind a chair and hold the back of it lightly, as though it were a barre. The exercise works just as well if you’re holding the back of a chair as if you are holding your hands out in front of you.
Tighten your abs to help keep your back straight, stick your bottom out behind and lower yourself slowly as if you were going to sit down. Most of your weight should be back on your heels, not on your toes. The trick to doing a squat properly is to keep your knees over your feet. Standing incorrectly can lead to knee injury, so be careful. Look down at your knees and made sure they do not move out in front of your toes. There should be minimal movement. Of course, the knee has to bend in order for you to do this exercise, but try not to let it go too far forward.
People with knee problems will probably find that doing a squat this way will make it easier for them to do it with little to no pain. If your knees hurt at all, don’t move down so far. If they continue to hurt, don't do this exercise. Some people’s knees won't allow them do squats.
As you stand back up, tighten your thigh muscles. Make them do the work, don't use your knees. Feel your thigh and buttocks muscles lifting your body back to an upright, standing position. This makes your thighs work harder, therefore, you gain more strength.


Read the full post here.

Another thread which has some great advice contained within the replies is this one: www.dance.net . . . Which are mostly working on the thighs, and I’ve personally tried the first one suggested by NellRose quite a few times, and it’s definitely high impact, but I can only try it one days that my knees are feeling good. Dragonfly posted an amazing exercise, which is also very high-impact, and I love using it, as it can be done right after a few light stretches in front of the tv!

Bum strengthening
Ok, why do we need to strengthen our bum? Surely that’s just weird? I hear you say… Think of it this way, why do we have a bum? Every single muscle in our body is there for a reason, and a bum is no exception. So here’s a few good exercises for a strong bum.

Lie flat on your back, with your knees up and you feet on the ground, about shoulder distance apart. Lift your bum to create a nice straight line from knee to shoulder. Hold for a bit, then drop. Do this in repetitions. You can also clench your bum cheeks when in the raised position. I find this exercise really helps for the abs as well. You can develop this exercise to work more on the abs as well by raising one foot at a time, and holding it in the same line as the body.

Lie on your side, with your lower arm outstretched and supporting your head. Make sure that your whole body is in a straight line. Raise your upper leg towards the roof, keeping legs in parallel. This works the legs, abs and the bum. Or it should in theory. I love this exercise because I do it in bed.

Abdomen
Even if I do say so myself, I’ve got a pretty good set of stomach muscles, and I’ve got little to no idea how they got started… Although I’ve got a funny feeling it was something to do with all the tail balances I did in dance class.

So one of the first exercises that I did to help my stomach muscles was a basic, sit with your legs in front of you, back straight, lean your hands out behind you, and create a v shape with your body, try to make it as small as you can, imagining yourself as a hard-back book that you’re trying to close, with your bum as the spine you are balancing on. This gets much more difficult once the hands are removed from the floor.

A more difficult exercise, that I’ve only been introduced to recently is this, Lie on your stomach, with your arms at right angles to your body. Lift your body from the waist up, without using your arms at all. Either hold this there, or do pulses of 8. (we have done both in class). This one can lead from or into back stretching exercises, depending on how flexible your back is.

There’s also the staples that everyone knows about, the various ways to do crunches, and sit-ups, however I personally don’t like these very much, because they tend to put unnecessary pain on peoples’ necks who don’t have good stomach muscles.

And in the same way as I’ve said before, stretching can’t go without strength, all parts of your body work together, the same goes for stomach muscles and your back. This is your ‘core’ and I’ve found a much better way of explaining it than I can, here.

Finally…
Arms and upper body
The only exercises I know for the arms and upper body involve the use of therabands (or in my case – tights), conditioning machines, or push ups.

And everyone knows what push ups are, and I don’t mean in the context of support and enhancement of breasts. I did give the link earlier for therabands, so for those who want to know more about this, then work away with one of those, or a pair of tights or two.

Finally, here’s a few links to some DDN posts that are helpful on strengthening the body, the importance of strengthening, and some stretching links that I find have stretches that also improve strength.

www.dance.net . . .
www.dance.net . . .
www.dance.net . . .

And one link (provided by ABTballet) with many many many exercises on stretching and strengthening. It really works on every area of the body, and should help so many people.

www.tinajuanfitness.info . . .

Good luck in strengthening, and I’m going to work hard myself!

Le gra,
Emma.x

28 Replies to Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!

re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By dancetosurvivemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 466, member since Sat Mar 11, 2006
On Tue May 29, 2007 10:38 PM
thanks for that!
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By dancer_150 Comments: 55, member since Mon May 14, 2007
On Wed May 30, 2007 12:57 PM
wow! That must've taken a really long time to make! It was helpful! Thanks:)
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By CrazyDramaGirl88member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 370, member since Wed Jan 03, 2007
On Thu Jun 21, 2007 09:40 AM
Thank you so much for this!! Must have taken lots of time and I think it deserves a sticky!!!!! Thank you!
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By JessDeAddermember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 594, member since Sat Oct 21, 2006
On Sat Jun 30, 2007 12:00 PM
good post.
:)
this should be a sticky.
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By Emmamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6898, member since Mon Nov 29, 2004
On Sat Jun 30, 2007 03:59 PM
I'd like to add another really good exercise:

Abdomen
Lie on your back, with your arms out at 90 degrees to your body (for support). Raise your (straight) legs so they are 90 degrees to the floor, and to you. Slowly lower them to your right side, and lift up, Slowly lower them to your left side, and lift up, repeat. It's simple, painful, and does a lot for your stomach muscles.
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By contortionmylife Comments: 55, member since Tue Mar 13, 2007
On Fri Aug 31, 2007 08:32 PM
great post very informative!!
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By miraclefrmheavnmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2068, member since Mon Jun 02, 2008
On Wed Jun 04, 2008 01:42 PM
I hope this is okay that I add this here, but what I have found is if you have a reclining computer chair, lean back as far as you can go and then put your toes on the floor or legs of the chair to keep you from moving forward, then you can put your hands behind your head gently and lift up doing abdominal crunches. It doesn't hurt your head or your back. I have been doing that in my computer chair and I have already noticed a difference slightly.

:)
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By followthesmile Comments: 69, member since Sat Sep 06, 2008
On Wed Dec 17, 2008 06:42 PM
Thank you so much! Stretching and Strengthening go hand in hand. (:
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By Adancer624 Comments: 20, member since Mon Nov 24, 2008
On Sun Dec 21, 2008 01:41 PM
Thank you!!! This is really good information. I am going to start doing some of the things right away! I have really bad ankles.
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By qazqaz705 Comments: 11, member since Thu Dec 25, 2008
On Fri Dec 26, 2008 05:26 PM
Thanks so much!
This is definately something I need to work on
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By wastedmb Comments: 21, member since Fri Dec 04, 2009
On Tue Dec 08, 2009 03:59 PM
thank you some much, this is really going to help me with toning for pointe! again thank you (:
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By Adancer624 Comments: 20, member since Mon Nov 24, 2008
On Sat Jan 30, 2010 02:57 PM
This is a lot of help. I have broken/sprained both ankles in the past. I really needed some other advice on how to strenthen them. Thank you
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By dancestar88551 Comments: 20, member since Fri Oct 02, 2009
On Sun Jan 31, 2010 06:27 PM
this is extremley great advice! :) this benifits dancers so much, and i am sure that everyone who has seen this sticky is very greatfull that it is here. you should be very proud, because this must have taken a lot of effort!
Thank you for posting this! :)
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By StillDancing Comments: 72, member since Fri Mar 19, 2010
On Tue Mar 23, 2010 08:24 AM
Thanks for this

Some really good advise x
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By Newway Comments: 101, member since Thu Jul 31, 2008
On Sat Jun 12, 2010 07:37 AM
I like to bike up and down hills to help with strengthening my legs and core to a point. Carrying heavy books can help with strengthening your arms and back.
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By dancer4life322 Comments: 3, member since Tue Jun 29, 2010
On Tue Jun 29, 2010 03:38 PM
Wow!! really helpful, thanks so much!
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By nuttinhoney Comments: 21, member since Mon May 17, 2010
On Fri Sep 17, 2010 09:57 PM
amazing!!! thankyou :) :) So helful!
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By dance10132 Comments: 20, member since Sun Jan 16, 2011
On Sat Jan 22, 2011 03:43 PM
thank you so much!! that was very helpful and im definitely going to add this to my daily routine :)
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By dance10132 Comments: 20, member since Sun Jan 16, 2011
On Sat Jan 22, 2011 03:44 PM
thank you so much!! that was very helpful and im definitely going to add this to my daily routine :)
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By dance10132 Comments: 20, member since Sun Jan 16, 2011
On Sat Jan 22, 2011 05:49 PM
thank you so much!! that was very helpful and im definitely going to add this to my daily routine :)
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By dance10132 Comments: 20, member since Sun Jan 16, 2011
On Sat Jan 22, 2011 05:50 PM
thank you so much!! that was very helpful and im definitely going to add this to my daily routine :)
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By DestinyAllen Comments: 30, member since Thu Jan 28, 2010
On Wed Feb 16, 2011 09:35 AM
Excellent post and so much information, this should be a sticky. I let my daughter read this post and she was amazed and has learnt a few things, very interesting. thank you so much.
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By kenwoodman Comments: 157, member since Mon Dec 29, 2003
On Mon Mar 07, 2011 02:41 AM
The number one thing that women can do to get stronger is lift like a guy. Want stronger quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, upper back, core, traps, arms? One exercise will do this, deadlifts. Want to jump higher? Weighted squats, one of the many variations. Stronger arms, shoulders, upper back? Military press.

Lifting weights is an accepted standard by all professional athletes, it improves performance, is better at fat loss than cardio (by far), won't make you bulky, the list goes on and on. Pilates is a great core exercise and works great for extentions, but if you want to move faster, bigger and higher, think about working some real weight work into your routine (plyometrics are awesome too, but that's another post).

Here's an article everyone on this board should read, it dispels many of the myths surrounding free weights. www.liamrosen.com . . .
re: Strengthening 101, Why we should strengthen, and some really helpful links!
By slice Comments: 1247, member since Fri Oct 15, 2004
On Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:08 AM
kenwoodman wrote:

The number one thing that women can do to get stronger is lift like a guy. Want stronger quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, upper back, core, traps, arms? One exercise will do this, deadlifts. Want to jump higher? Weighted squats, one of the many variations. Stronger arms, shoulders, upper back? Military press.

Lifting weights is an accepted standard by all professional athletes, it improves performance, is better at fat loss than cardio (by far), won't make you bulky, the list goes on and on. Pilates is a great core exercise and works great for extentions, but if you want to move faster, bigger and higher, think about working some real weight work into your routine (plyometrics are awesome too, but that's another post).

Here's an article everyone on this board should read, it dispels many of the myths surrounding free weights. www.liamrosen.com . . .


So true. I hate how the market always seems to aim weight training at men and then cardio toward women. There's no reason why both sexes shouldn't be doing both, and general health and fitness demands it.

I'm currently running Madcows 5x5 (a strength program) after previously doing Starting Strength. Over the past year I've only lost around 15lbs on the scale, but my legs are more defined, my shoulders pop, and my waist measurements have shrunken dramatically. I owe it all to the barbell :)
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