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Ballet Talk for Dancers

lifting weights


pittsburgh ballet theatre 08

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ok, so i used to lift weights when i was 12 and i stopped last year cuz i read in an pointe magazine where i really didnt have to cuz it would affect my flexibility so i just needed to do push-ups and pull-ups and things like tht. and ik i can get my upper body a little bigger, but not super big (if u know what i mean)

 

my question is what about the lower body? cuz i have nice long lean muscles in my legs? but should i just work on the upper body at a weight room? or if i can work on the lower body, what should i use at a weight room?

 

and one more question. haha. i hear tht using a bench press is really useless for dancers. so what should i start using for upper body?

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You need a trainer, or at least a weight-training supervisor who knows how to incorporate weights with ballet in a way that helps the ballet and doesn't make you end up musclebound, which is a distinct possibility. Something to remember is that for every exercise that makes a muscle bulge (hypertrophy), there is an equal and opposite stretch. Sort of a Newton Law of Motion set on its ear. I'd love to be able to tell you exactly what to do, but we can't see you in this medium, and can't advise specifically on what would be best for you. Find a trainer locally who understands what you are looking for and work on that for awhile. It may take some trial-and-error, but you'll find somebody, I just know it.

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Welcome pittsburgh ballet theatre 08! :)

 

Mel offered some really good advice - try and find someone in your area knowledgable about weight training, and hopefully knowledgable about the needs of male dancers. I would start with fitness clubs in the area and go from there.

 

I work out at a "24-hour Fitness" (commercial plug not intended!) - they have personal trainers (at little or no cost) that will work with you to achieve individual goals, and are also discrete, in case you don't want others knowing you dance (some of us are a little self conscious there!) :blushing:

 

That being said, I think Mel would agree that for the time being (not knowing anything about your age or goals), push-ups and sit-ups can't hurt at any age, so keep doing those! :thumbsup:

 

Anyway hope this helps, and wlecome! :shrug:

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well we were told tht pilates was the best training then weight lifting. they were afraid at my age (15) tht weight lifting would make me too big.

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Here is the perspective of a personal trainer, and since you mentioned flexibility, I'll expand on that too:

 

Lifting moderate weights, 2-3 sets per body part, a couple of times per week, will not make you "huge." Shouldn't necessarily inhibit your flexibility either, if your flexibility training program is adequate.

 

Deep stretching should always be done at the end of a workout session. The American Fitness and Aerobics Association (AFAA) current guidelines recommend light, briefly held stretches, limbering activity and movement "rehearsal" exercises prior to the main portion of an exercise "bout," e.g. a dance class, and that deep, sustained stretching should always be done after. There are two compelling reasons for this- one, stretching "cold" muscles increases the risk of microtrauma to the muscle fibers and tendons, versus stretching "warm" muscles, that is muscles in which blood flow and oxygen delivery have been increased by activity, and two, muscles which are stretched to their maximum flexibility are actually less able to generate force (e.g. elevation in leaps), for reasons of muscle anatomy and physiology too complicated to go into here. In sum, the standard practice of dancers to come to class early and force their "cold" legs through splits, etc. is just plain wrong, from a kinesiological standpoint.

 

Bench press and related chest exercises are a necessary component of a balanced strength training program, along with back, shoulder, triceps, biceps, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves (anterior and posterior). A major value in leg strengthening exercises for dancers is maintaining a proper strength ratio between hamstrings and quads, which can help prevent knee injuries. Current exercise science recommendations are that the hamstrings should be at least 70% as strong as the quads.

Finally, situps and crunches can strengthen the outer core, particularly the rectus abdominus and external obliques, or what is now increasingly referred to as the "movement" core musculature. But crunches don't address the inner, "stability" core musculature. Pilates-derived and core stability exercises as taught by the National Academy of Sports Medicine target the inner, stability core more than traditional situps or crunches.

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Not a trainer, but as a fellow dancer seeking the benefits of weight training, I'll relay my experience: I do a regimen 3 times a week consisting of 20 minutes of jogging (indoors, easy surface), full body weight training (meaning I try to hit all the major muscles groups, working with 1 set of 20 reps with somewhat light weight), and then 30-40 minutes of deep stretching (total workout takes 1 1/2 to 3 hours). I've been doing this for just over a month now and am really seeing great results. I've become stronger and more toned, but not bulky (I've actually slimmed down some), and my flexibility has increased due to the stretching. I've been very pleased and find the workout challenging enough to keep up, but not so killer that I get discouraged.

 

PS: Try gyrotonics if you can as well, it even better than pilates, but requires a trainer to guide you.

 

PSS: Would love to ask you about Pittsburgh ballet sometime, got into their SI and want to know more about it and their year round program. maybe PM me when you get that ability?

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ok sure np. i dont really live in pittsburgh. im going there for the summer too. but if i get enough information about it and the year round. yea sure i would love to talk about it.

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Once upon a time competitive weightlifter here who used to coach track and field athletes in weight training, who has been a dancer for 13 years, and who still does some weight training for recreation.

 

Though obviously I think weight training is a great activity, I do need to say unless one is severely weak, weight training is unlikely to help your ballet in any way whatsoever. You get better at ballet by doing ballet and that includes things like lifts. And if you are super serious about ballet, you are probably taking so many classes that you don’t have much time to do many other exercise sessions.

 

Nonetheless, weight training is excellent for maintaining health and just a pleasant enterprise in and of itself. In general, exercising the whole body is the recommended approach. The actual exercises one does really aren’t that important. One gets stronger by consistently training and increasing resistance. Interestingly, the muscles that are most useful for things like jumping and lifting are those of the legs, back, and tush and not the arms and shoulders. Beginners are always attracted to upper body exercises for some strange reason. Personally, I always recommend that beginners start exercise sessions with the lower body exercises.

 

Any reputable gym will have a beginners program that exercises the entire body and will get you started. Once you get some experience, you can change your routine to be more specific to what you want. Two exercises that almost all track sprinters and jumpers do are squats and power cleans. Since quickness and explosiveness are two qualities male dancers want, those would seem to me to be the most specific exercises for the male dancer. That’s just my opinion, however. As I said, overall I don’t think what one does matters that much.

 

As a dancer, I always mix stretching in my weight training. The perfect time to stretch a muscle is just after it, or its opposing muscle, has been exercised. I also like circuit training for the dancer as it also provides a cardiovascular effect (when the circuit is set up appropriately) and keeps you from using weights that are too heavy.

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