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himynameisbianca

Bulky muscles

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himynameisbianca

How about some ways to tone down the thighs? My calves are normally sized, but I have overdeveloped quads and hamstrings. I try to stretch as much as possible, and this has decreased them some, but not as much as I'd like.

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Victoria Leigh

Bianca, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, and we offer our sincere apologies. Somehow we all missed your post and it was days ago! I think it might be because there were two posts with the same name.

 

Anyway, we have discussed this problem a lot here. Basically there is not a way to "tone down" one muscle group, but, stretching and working correctly can help. Sometimes it is a genetic situation, but if it is caused by working improperly, then it can be helped. Learning how to stretch the quads (basic stretch with the foot going towards the buttocks, holding the top of the foot with your hand, keeping the knees together and the pelvis placed), and also learning how to work without overworking the quads can make a big difference. The importance of placement and alignment cannot be overstressed, and keeping the body weight lifted out of the hips is critical.

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ballet_fanatic

I'm just going to ask a question on this topic. What exactly is considered a "bulky" muscle? And how can you try and "fix" it, like your calves and thighs?

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Victoria Leigh

There is no way to describe a "bulky muscle" except to note that it is bulky. However, your idea of bulky for your own muscles, and other people's observations could be totally different. Ballet does not create bulky muscles if taught and worked correctly. As stated above, a tendency to a more muscular structure can be genetic. It would be best to talk to your teacher because you need advice from someone who can see you.

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ballet_fanatic

Ok...well I don't have a big figure...the rest of me is super skinny, so it looks sort of funky. And hm...I think my calves are really big, people have even told me they are big...I guess doing the runner's strech is the best thing to do?

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Victoria Leigh

How old are you? Your leg muscles are probably just a bit more developed that the rest of you, so to you they appear big. If you still have a lot of growing to do, things may look differently in a couple of years. Stretching the calves and the quads is always a good thing to do on a regular basis.

 

IF the quads are actually over developed, that could be caused by sitting in your hips and not being lifted enough. If your weight is back in your heels too much, this causes you to sit in the hips and puts too much downward pressure on the leg muscles. But we cannot tell if that is happening, only your teacher knows that. Do you get corrections about moving your weight forward and lifting up more out of your hips?

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ballet_fanatic

I'm 14, 15 in Feb. and I'm '5"5(or is it "5'5?) Um...my teachers haven't corrected me about sitting back in my heels(except once yesterday) or lifting up more out of my hips...also when I tondue(excuse my spelling) my calf muscle pulls up toward my knee...that was a really bad description but it's like, for some people, when you're in releve(again, excuse spelling) and your calf muscles are bigger closer to your knee, that's what happens when I tondue.

 

And when I grand battement, I feel as if I'm using my quads instead of underneath, and I've done the exercise where you lie on your back with on leg forming a right angle with your bady and turning it in and out, so I feel the underneath muscles when I do that, but I don't feel them when I'm standing.

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Victoria Leigh

When you fully point your foot, as in a tendu, the calf muscle is engaged, therefore, it does look much the same as in relevé.

 

To find the underneath energy for grand battement try inhaling just before the battement and exhaling as you begin the battement. Picture a circle of energy running around you, vertically for front battement and horizontally for side, from the floor up and over your head and underneath the working leg as you exhale. It's like something else is doing the work for you! The quad will engage when the leg is stretched, of course, but it does not pull your leg up. The energy to get the leg up needs to come from underneath.

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ballet_fanatic

Thank you so much! I'm going to try the circle of energy next ballet class!

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balletguru09

My teacher always says "We want to build slender muscles and you won't if you over-cross your leg when it is developed (sorry for my misspelling) to the front it will engage your quad muscle instead of working your inner thighs. You should aim for your leg to be directly in front of your hip of the working leg." Just thought I would share... :D

Edited by balletguru09

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Juliet39

Are certain styles of ballet (Balanchine, Vaganova, etc), more prone to causing "bulky" muscles? I train at a Vaganova school and we do a lot of slow adagio (with lots of developes that we hold for several counts) and a lot of slow jumps that men usually do. I've noticed that my quads are a lot bigger than what they used to be. Additionally, my quads actually slimmed down this summer when I was at a Balanchine-style summer intensive. If it is the case that the training I am receiving bulks up my legs, is there anything I can do to counter that? Any exercises or cross training I can do? I know stretching is supposed to help but I stretch a lot and am naturally very flexible, so I don't really feel anything or see a difference.

Thanks so much! :innocent:

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Victoria Leigh

Juliet, it's generally not any one method of training that is the problem, but the way it is taught. And of course the way it is executed by the student. If you are sitting in your hips, that will cause the thighs to bulk. If the exercises are not geared for what you are ready for at this time, and given in a tempo that is sensible for your age and level, there should be no problem. If you are at all unsure how correctly you are working, I found that where you live is a city with an excellent company, which has a most excellent school. I would visit that, if I were you. :)

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Juliet39

Ok, thank you very much for your advice, Ms. Leigh! :)

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