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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Gym routines to support ballet


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Hi guys


I was wondering what (if any) gym routines you recommend to assist the ballet training?


I usually do stretches followed by cardio, either rowing or cross trainer, then basic wt training with light wts and large reps


Are there any other exercises you do and find useful?


Any specific muscle groups to target?


I assume the legs are getting enough with the dance work.


I would appreciate your views.



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I would recommend additional ballet classes, but that's just me! :D


And for heaven's sake, don't do stretches before you've warmed up from the floor up first! A complete ballet barre is designed to do that.

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I agree with Mel. A high level of physical fitness is certainly a nice thing to have, but it isn’t absolutely vital. Remember ballet is primarily a skill and that training is specific. That means the best thing that you can do to develop yourself in ballet is to take tons of classes and try to get as many opportunities as you can to perform. On the artistic side, you can develop your knowledge and skills in the non-dance arts (music, visual arts, acting), but you don’t do those in a gym.


And this is from a real gym rat.

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The one area Ballet does not address is are the arms. Men need some strength to do lifts and partnering, push ups, crunches, and using light dumbbells to improve the arms is helpful.


Stretching before and after weights will prevent bulkiness.

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Regarding use of weights, I highly recommend doing something in this area. I would only add that a knowledgeable personal trainer would be able to guide you. I'm not a dancer (leaving that for my far more talented DS!), but I use weight training to help in my activity, which is endurance sports (running, biking, triathlon). Over many years, I have figured out a routine that fits well with what I do, not to mention it's a good idea to have decent upper body strength just for doing stuff around the house without injuring myself. I specifically said (above) that a knowledgeable trainer could help you - I'm not convinced that all of the trainers where I work out know what they're doing. But a knowledgeable trainer would be able to listen to what your needs are, then design a workout regimen to achieve your goals - that might include weights, elastic bands, medicine

b a lls, and/or who knows what else.




Edit: Hmmm, it looks as if an automatic censor didn't like my usage of the plural of the word "ball" - you all probably understand that it's that round, heavy thing that you swing around with your arms to build core strength....

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I adjusted it slightly. The censor was the consequence of a hack we experienced one time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think a lot of it depends on your goals and weaknesses you're trying to address. I started a weight training program in July to help rehab my knees, and get some upper body strength. I looked at what non-dance, athletic people were doing, and chose a program that strengthens the whole body in a balanced way, was simple, and effective. I ended up with Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength program because it was well-documented in a book and easy to follow.


Basically, you alternate between two workouts: one with back squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, and another with back squats, overhead presses, and power cleans, all done with barbells. And you eat a lot. I mean ridiculous amounts like a gallon of whole milk a day. The program uses linear progression and adds weight each workout, and you mostly do 3 sets of 5 reps. The goal of the program is to get strength, and it seems to work well for competitive athletes, so why not dancing?


I get in and out of the gym in about an hour, depending on how much time I rest between sets (some days are harder than others), and just go 3 times a week, so it's pretty convenient.


Side effects: I think I've gained 15 pounds in 2 months (and I'm not even eating as much as I should), jumps are actually easier, and the knees seem to be doing OK. I look at it as a way to get raw strength which is then refined in class.

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"jumps are actually easier"...


Interesting point. I've been told that Olympic weightlifting (snatch/clean and jerk), where the legs are used to rapidly help lift a weight off the ground, develops good explosive muscle power in the legs, and therefore help jumps (even though jumps use still more rapid movements). Something that might be useful (which I certainly could do with).


While I'm on the topic of strength, something that might be of interest to older people on this board: Many of us are now taking statins, which were initially used as an anti-cholesterol drug but seem to have a more widespread effect on cardiovascular health (eg to stop blood vessels from becoming blocked, and hence not only reduce heart attacks and strokes but possibly slow the development of e.g. Alzheimers in so far as that this results from reduced blood flow in the brain).


A recent report shows that many people have a reduced muscle strength when taking statins. The decrease in leg strength was 16 kg. The effect seems reversible once you go off them.


Something to bear in mind if using statins - maybe extra strength training is needed.


This is separate from a rare (0.1%) effect where people lose a lot of strength. The effect above was the average effect over a whole group of people.



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Ahh, jimpickles you mentioned an old time love of mine—Olympic style weightlifting. Used to be one of those like several decades ago. Yes, trainers believe that the simple versions of the Olympic lifts develop power in the legs that is good for jumping strength. In track and field it is common for sprinters and jumpers to do these in their weight workouts. Whether or not it really does help, I’m not sure anyone really knows.


With respect to weight training and ballet, I still can’t get over the time problem. Don’t get me wrong. I love weight training, but then I’m not a big time ballet dancer either. Strictly an amateur. In my general exercise program, which tends to be on the dancy side, I use weights, but the amount of time I spend with weights is minimal, perhaps only 15-20 minutes 3-4 times a week. If I were a big time dancer, quite frankly I don’t know where I could get the time to even do this minimal amount. Plus, I see ballet as an activity of skill and artistry rather than pure physical prowess.


I’m also not sure I would trust a trainer. Certainly a trainer can teach you how to do a specific exercise, but most trainers have clients using gyms for several hours a week. I’m not sure if a typical trainer even knows the physical requirements for a dancer, which would make it difficult for he or she to design an effective program for a very serious dancer.

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Keep in mind, a serious male ballet student does partnering for an hour or more at a time, at least twice a week, and professionals do it every day. This builds the required strength and skill.

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And I suppose objects if dropped too hard...

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Actually, I don't think I ever let a partner hit the ground, that I can recall. I've had them land on me, but not the floor first.


Really, the most intricate part of partnering is the promenade, not the lifts. That takes highly coordinated muscle usage throughout the entire body.

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Sorry, BalletStrength, but you've fallen afoul of the forum rules, anyway. I've "invisibled" your post, and the other moderators and I will figure out what to do here.

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