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Cross Training & Conditioning for Dancers

Cross training and conditioning seem to be hot topics within the dance community with some dancers and studios embracing the notion of training differently than we always have may be better. However, dance is heavily rooted in tradition, and there are still lots of people who believe the best way to improve dance technique and performance is more repetition. Does the phrase “one more time” ring a bell? Oftentimes, these same people also believe that encouraging other forms of activity will negatively impact a dancer’s artistry or the aesthetic of the body. This simply isn’t true.

Why is it important for cross training and conditioning to be included as part of a dancer’s training?

Dancers often feel they need to improve their leaps, turns, kicks, and splits – among other skills. In order to improve these things, they likely need to work on a combination of:

-Strength -Stability

-Flexibility -Balance

-Power -Muscular and cardio endurance

-Body awareness -Alignment

-Agility -Control

Both cross training and conditioning are effective for improving all of these things – as well as improving bone mineral density and reducing injury risk. And the added benefit?? Improved confidence and stage presence.

So, what exactly is cross training? What is conditioning? Is there a difference?

Conditioning exercises are aimed at improving the components (see list above) and movement patterns required for dance and look similar to your primary dance style. This varies based on style, but can include Pilates, yoga, gyrotonic, and Progressing Ballet Technique. Dancers often opt for this type of supplemental training because they look and feel more like dance, making them somewhat familiar.

Cross training exercises have the same goal, but the movement patterns look different than dance. This can include swimming, cycling, court or field-based sports, resistance/strength training, running, and high intensity interval training (HIIT). Dancers often shy away from this type of exercise because it feels unfamiliar and may require skills they have not learned or practiced.

Simply put, both cross training and conditioning activities help to prepare the body for dance with the goal of allowing the body to rest from the same repetitive movements of your primary dance style. This helps to improve performance and decrease injury risk.

How often should dancers be incorporating cross training and conditioning into their schedule?

It depends. Just like dance training, the way to make gains with your cross training and conditioning is consistency and depending on your schedule, 1-3x/week is ideal. However, if you’re in the middle of performance season and already running on fumes, adding in more physical activity may not be what you need. Dancers should taper down on cross training and conditioning during this time.

This is why SUMMER is the best time to get started on a cross training and conditioning program! You can focus on building strength, stamina, and All-The-Things you need for dance without worrying about overloading your body or schedule.

Charlotte Dance Medicine is offering Cross Training and Conditioning Classes this summer! Small group training (2-4 dancers) with two class types and two locations will be available. Click the button below to learn more.


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