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Ballet Talk for Dancers



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I have look all over the web, and various dance sites, and I can find nothing for a man looking for weight lifting routine focused around ballet. I already do the pilatiess<sp?> and that has helped my ballet, but what I am looking for is a weight lifting routine. Can anyone help?



Thank you for your time,


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You will need a personal trainer to tailor a weights program around your particular needs. The trainer should understand what ballet is about, and know what is required; for example the usual bench-press is nearly useless for ballet. It's great if you and your partner go around punching one another, but I had one of those one time, and that was enough. Presses straight up from the clean position, fine. Biceps curls, fine, you know how often we have to hold our partners in. And these are just a few essential items. Pilates, and a related modality, gyrotonics, may be of additional help.

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Once upon a time Olympic weightlifter here, and here are my thoughts about ballet dancers and weightlifting.


Obviously I think weight training is a nice activity, but I should say that I don’t think it particularly does much for developing yourself as a ballet dancer. If you are relatively weak, weight training will improve your strength. Or if you are just looking for a nice recreational activity, weight training is a nice healthy activity. But the best way to get better at ballet, including ballet lifts and jumping for that matter, is to do more ballet.


Like any type of training, weight training only “works” when it is done regularly over a long time. I would say this is the single most important aspect of weight training. For someone whose major physical activity is ballet, I’d say weight training twice a week is enough. My definition of regular is missing no more than one session every six weeks.


Buying a gym membership is the best way to keep regular. Staff at the gym can also show you how to do the various exercises and use whatever equipment they have. Unless you have weight trained for years and it is just part of your life, you are unlikely to be regular in your training when you try to go it alone.


The second most important aspect of weight training for ballet relates to the amount of weight one uses and the way in which one moves the weight. As primarily a dancer, your interest is in strengthening and stretching muscle. You are not trying to see how much weight you can lift. So, overall, you will probably want to use less weight than you think you should. Having said that, you also need to lift more weight over time, so leave yourself lots of time and weight to improve over a year.


You will need to mix how you lift a given weight. Sometimes you will do a lot of repetitions for a given exercise. How many is up to you, but you should sense that your muscle has done significant work having done the exercise. Other times you will want to concentrate on doing few repetitions, but done as fast as you can. I would never try what we call a “limit” single (i.e., as much as you can for one repetition).


Personally, I like doing weight training in a circuit when your goal is fitness rather than pure strength. The idea is to pick about 8-10 exercises and do them one after another with no rest between, repeating that cycle about 3 times. Circuit training generally will keep you from using weights that are too heavy. Also is good for the cardio system.


The third most important factor is to incorporate stretching into your weight training. You can do this by doing exercises that actively stretch muscles while you do them (e.g., lunges, stiff leg deadlifts, pullovers). In a circuit program, ending each circuit with some all around stretches is good. I’d recommend something like a 3 minute stretching routine that you might find in a jazz or modern class, one that flows from one stretch to another without too much time in any one stretch. The idea is to keep the level of work high while you stretch. After you have finished weight training is the time for longer stretches.


The least important aspect of weight training in my opinion is the actual exercises themselves. Honestly I don’t think it matters what you do as long as the whole body is exercised. In general, exercise for dance is as I said a combination of strengthening and stretching. Some of my personal favorites are lunges, calf raises, presses, rows, and stiff leg deadlifts, but that is just me. I like free weights over machines, but that again is just me. You can even do some regular ballet exercises while holding modest weights. One of my favorites is just doing simple fast fondu (f,s,b,s) for about 24 reps while holding a 5 pound weight in each hand, for example.

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Gary I am actually a professional ballet dancer (as of 0ct. 2006 lol ) and a Team Power Lifter for Northern Michigan University. My stats aer pretty decent


(all in lbs.)


Deadlift 720

Bench 360

Squat 680


I was just trying to figure out what to do for ballet because my head is in H.I.T mode.


As for more ballet... please for the love of anything good, no more dance... I can't take it. I am eating about 8000 calories a day just trying to maintain my muscle mass because of the amount of class that I take. lol. As for the stretches, I stretch when I wake up and before I goto bed. Equaling about 3 or 4 hours of stretching a day. I have hit a point in my flexability where my bone structure is what is holding me back now. Not saying that my flexability isn't nuts for a guy.


I probably should have clarified just a tad.


Thanks for your reply.

Edited by team-green32
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If you're taking in that many calories, I'd have a metabolism test to see where all that is going, and how. At least you won't have much trouble with any press lifts in just about any position! :lol:

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I am lucky in the aspect that I don't look toooo bulky. I am 5'9 and about x#. While my technique has suffered because of muscle mass, my tricks and power has went through the roof because of the muscle that I canister *said in a manly low voice*


[edited by moderator in keeping with Board policy]

Edited by dancemaven
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I was just curious, because when you get above 5000 calories a day, you're in sumo territory, but then, they do things to make themselves intentionally huge, like not eating breakfast, eat monster communal lunches, then sleep for four hours after, undergo specialized massages to stimulate the movement of food mass through the intestines so they can eat more, and so on. Oh, yeah, and beer! Lotsa beer and sake!

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For what it's worth, I've read that lumberjacks in the Northwest 100 years ago were calculated to have consumed 8000 to 10000 calories per day, based on camp records of food consumption. (I may be an old dude from the Northwest, but this was way before my time! :) ) I believe I've read that as much as 15000 calories can be consumed and burned, by exceptionally active individuals - possibly this was a Tour de France statistic?

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Team-green32—I was never into powerlifting, but your best lifts seem seriously good to me. Though I am guessing as to your weight, when I looked up the results of the 2006 USA Powerlifting Championships, the total of your best lifts would have placed you second in both the 181 and 198 pound classes. That’s seriously good.


Combining a professional ballet career with a championship powerlifting career is extremely rare (never before done as far as I know) and certainly worthy of a write-up in both the dance and powerlifting magazines.

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For what it's worth, I've read that lumberjacks in the Northwest 100 years ago were calculated to have consumed 8000 to 10000 calories per day, based on camp records of food consumption.


Yeah, but then remember those guys croaked when they were 43! And some of those camp records have raised some eyebrows among social historians, you know, the guys who do statistics. It seems that the cook wasn't just cooking the chow at some of these places, he was also cooking the books. One place they found out was ordering food for 800 men and there were only about 100 there. Cooky was selling the surplus to the Indians. Another place with a seemingly insatiable appetite apparently also had appetites of other sorts, too. There were more women than lumbermen in the camp. And not careful ones, either, because when the Census came around, they found all these kids living there. Nearly as much fun as the Red Army supply officer in WWII who was ordering vodka rations for a brigade every month, which is about 5,000 men. The brigade in question, after Stalingrad, had 25 survivors. The supply officer was still ordering as if everybody were still alive. Par-tay, par-tay. PAR-TAY!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, I hold quite a few titles locally. I have never really thought about a write up for a magazine... maybe I will throw something together. For what it's worth, in 2004 I was also number 1 in Michigan for the 16-20yr 201cc and up Enduro class. My dad and I race dirt bikes in the woods. You want a rush??? Buy a dirt bike and slam dance it through the woods... now that's fun. lol

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I'd like to ask the weightlifters - my understanding is that ballet needs a lot of strength in the fast-twitch muscle fibres - the ones that give the rapid snappy action that is so expressive as well as giving height in jumps and so on.


I have also been told that Olympic weightlifting develops a lot of strength in the fast-twitch fibres - because you need to produce a large power output in a short time. So Olympic weightlifters do well as sprinters I am told, this being one of the activities par excellence that needs fast-twitch fibres.


In other words, there should be weightlifting routines that specially develop the types of muscle fibres needed for ballet. The slow, powerful, ones are probably not the ones.


Do I seem to be talking sense?


I wonder, does anyone have any suggestions of types of weightlifting or routines that would do this?


In response to the point that the best way of doing ballet is to do more ballet - maybe there is a point for relatively short but intense routines to specifically target one's weak points. Then that time will be spent most effectively on the weak areas.


(from someone whose body seems to be almost entirely composed of slow-twitch fibres).



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You want higher jumps, jimpickles? Try deadlifts. You won't have -any- weak points.

Just be safe and work with someone qualified until you have a good grasp of what the movement requires, and the set/rep scheme that works best for you. Oh, and don't worry about looking "bulky" unless you are actually approaching that point--as I'm sure the initial poster here can attest, it takes tremendous effort and tons of food to override the calorie-burning effects of this intense exercise.

If you are looking for a total-body plan, then this will just be one part of it, but I believe most male dancers would benefit tremendously from becoming familiar with deadlifts in particular.

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Latindancerguy - many thanks for your reply. That is just the information I was looking for.


Bulk up? Me?? Some hope!





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