Dancer Workouts: The Legs

 


Toned legs are an important part of mastering many different dance styles. Dancing can help you to build stronger legs, but it is also a good idea to develop a fitness routine incorporating a variety of exercises.

Dancing and Leg Exercise

Overall, many different dancing styles are excellent for building stronger legs, but different dance styles will do so in different ways. The following are the best dance workouts for dancer legs.

Ballet, for example, is excellent for building both strength and balance. If you do ballet, you will tone and probably lengthen many of your leg muscles, such as the calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

Jazz dance often builds on a foundation of ballet techniques, but you are likely to find it is much more of a hip workout. Jazz dance also tends to encourage stronger quadriceps (“quads”) to a greater extent than ballet.

Many African dancing styles are excellent for the whole body. With their lively mixes of jumping, kicking, and bouncing on one leg and then the other, African dances are great for the legs.

Depending on the style, hip hop dancing may entail spinning on your knees (necessitating knee pads), sliding on the floor on one side of your thigh, and other moves seldom encountered elsewhere. Hip hop dancing is great for quads, glutes and calves.

Exercises for Dancer’s Legs

If you want dancer’s legs, it’s a good idea to incorporate a variety of leg exercises into your workout routine. Doing so will help you exercise your glutes and all of the major muscle groups in your legs: the quads, hamstrings ad adductors of your thighs, the tibialis anteriors of your shins, and your calves.

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Pelvic raises are a good start. Begin by lying on your back, knees bent, feet the width of your hips and resting against the floor. Now, raise your hips up, turning your body into a diagonal from shoulders to knees. Lower and then repeat.

Calf raises are, as the name suggests, especially good for the calves.

There are different versions of this exercise, and you may choose to perform it on a step or other platform—in which case it is a good idea to have something solid to hang onto. Either way,

  • Begin by standing straight, and pull in your upper ribs and belly to engage your core. If you are performing the exercise on a step, your heels should be over the edge.
  • Now, rise up onto your toes, as far as you can. After a brief pause, lower yourself down and then repeat.

Pulsing-Plié-Squat

 

 

 

 

 

 

The plié is excellent for working out the entire leg and the glutes too.

  • Begin by standing straight, feet wider than shoulder width. Keep your toes pointed out, and your hands placed on your hips.
  • Now, bend your knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor, almost as if you were trying to sit on an invisible chair. That is one repetition do 20 reps.
  • Try to do plies with heels high (balance on balls of feet) do 20 reps.

 

With exercises like these you will be off to a good start. You might also want to ask your dance instructor for more workout tips.

Pilates exercises for the legs are also great to achieve dancer legs. On the mat try the following Pilates exercise.

 

Sidekick

 

 

 

 

 

Side Kicks:

  • Lie on your right side with both legs straight at a 45 degree angle (leg on top of leg).
  • Put left hand on floor in front of sternum and right had supporting your head.
  • Lift top leg hip width apart. Engage your core for strength and stability and slowly kick your leg forward towards your face with control (pulse leg forward twice) then return leg through start position and bring leg behind you (Keep leg straight and don’t drop leg or shift hips too much). Do this forward and back action 6-8 times slowly and with control.
  • Switch sides.

NOTE: Keep your toes pointed up not towards the floor do not move your back or hips.

 

The best dance workouts to get dancer’s legs

If you a dancer, you need strong legs. No questions asked. Whether your dancing style is ballet or jazz, powerful leg muscles will ensure you display flexibility in your dance routine. There are several exercises that can help you build a set of strong legs.

If you are particularly tired of your old dancing workout and are seeking fresh ideas, these dance workouts are perfect for you. Try these workouts today.

FitEngine reporter recommendation for the best dance workout for legs:

To get dancer legs, take dance classes. I would recommend 3 dance classes a week.  If you are in New York City, participate in the annual NYC Dance Week festival in June (www.nycdanceweek.org). You can take over 100 free dance and fitness classes for 10 days.   – Tasha Norman

 

Image of Chenxin Liu courtesy of Fanny Schertzer