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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Thick Calves and Quads


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Ballet, taught correctly, does not do that. If they are not there to start with, then they should not build up. The muscles should become more defined, and, especially the calves, stronger, but that does not make them thick.

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How does ballet give you 'longer' muscles? My thigh and calf muscles have got much less stocky since I started ballet, but I don't know how this has happened.

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Ballet is designed to stretch and lengthen. Therefore, when done correctly, it should do that! :)

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What if you begin ballet with strong built legs? Can ballet still elongate those muscles? Is once a week enough to see effects long term?

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Genetics is the primary determiner of your physique. The only way one can change that at all is to seriously exercise, almost to the point of obsession, and change your bodyweight (reduce or gain as needed). If you do lots and lots of ballet, your body will tend to reshape itself to look more like the stereotypical ballet dancer. You may never get that stereotypical shape (genetics is extremely powerful), but you will change in that direction.

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But not by taking ballet once a week, sorry. :D

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Hi! Thanks for your replies! I understand that ballet is supposed to give you long and lean muscles. The reason I asked, is that I have seen a teenage student who has extremely developed quads, so much as that they become disproportional to the rest of her body. I have read somewhere, that if you are using the wrong muscles, i.e. using the quads and not developing strength in the hamstrings, then you risk building up bulky quad muscles. Does it mean that this girl has perhaps used her quads too much while not turning out enough with the correct muscles? I have noticed that I myself have developed a small bulk on the lateral side of my kneecap, at the insertion point of the quads to the patella. Maybe I have been doing something wrong, too, like overusing the quads in developpe? :D


There is also another adult student whom I have spoken to, who told me she developed very bulky calve muscles once upon a time when she went en pointe without having trained her intrinsic foot muscles properly. So it seems to me that faulty technique and the wrong usage of muscles contribute to the "bulking up" of certain muscle groups. What I'd like to learn more about, is how to use the correct muscles to prevent that from happening. Thanks!

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If you are female and do not gain body weight, increasing your muscle size is extremely difficult to do. You need testosterone to gain size and females have very little testosterone. So if you do one movement incorrectly, you are highly unlikely to bulk up the wrong muscles. You are just doing the movement incorrectly, which will reflect in the quality of your dancing.


Again it is worth repeating. Genetics accounts for most all of your shape. Caloric balance comes in second. The specifics of what one does accounts for very very little, especially in females.


Learning good technique is something all dancers work on continuously. You learn that by going to classes, a lot of classes, consistently over a long period of time and paying attention to what the teacher is saying in class.

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First one has to find the right muscles, feel them engage, and then mentally 'tell' the muscle to work. If one has found the proper muscles and is engaging them, then it's up to the training to ensure that the work contains an equal amount of sustaining movements and elongating ones.


In other words, the teen with the bulky muscles *could* be that way from too many repetitions of work that sustains or holds muscles in the contracted state, and not enough opposite work.


Or she could simply be built that way. Take a look at the entire level of teens; it should be rather telling as to whether it's a training issue or whether it's simply one or two who happen to be built that way.


Now, I have also met people who had bulky muscles who didn't trust that working in a different way would help them, simply because they were scared that they'd lose steps that they'd been able to do previously. Actually, that is a valid concern but the loss is only temporary; when the body learns to work in the correct fashion, then the steps will return. Though it does require patience.


All of that being said, in order to find the proper muscles, one has to first understand and be able to be in proper alignment. :P There is a sticky on that subject at the top of this forum.


Once you are in proper alignment, several muscles will start to work that perhaps haven't previously, but you'll still need to locate the rotation muscles. Time to do some anatomy research! Once you've seen them, the next step will be to try some exercises that will identify them to you by feeling, and strengthen them at the same time.


Let me know if you need those exercises once you've researched anatomy :wacko:

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i came over to the board with a very specific question, and it seems a similar topic has already cropped up today!


my question is this: can doing an improper plie lead to muscle buildup around the ankles?


rather, instead of "relaxing" through the knees and ankles, i tend to hold or contract a very shallow plie, and hold the tension in my feet and ankles.


i've finally realized the problem and am eager to work towards fixing it, but after 5 years of taking about 4 classes a week i am wondering if my "held" plies have contributed to my calf muscles extending all the way down to my ankles.


any input would be much appreciated!! thanks!

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I suppose it could build up the muscles around your ankles, but it could also be a genetic thing too.


By the way- welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers!! So release your ankles already, will ya!!!!! :P


Enjoy posting!!!

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