Hamstring Exercises For Dancers: How To Use Endurance And Power For Grace

Before I talk about these exercises, I want to say that I am not trained in fitness for dancers. However, I noticed some traffic coming to my site looking for exercises for dancers and mainly in relation to the hamstring.

I wanted to write this article because the training philosophy is the same as it would be for most leg strength. I hope this helps you and gives you some direction so you can seek out the best dance instructor or trainer.

Start With What Do Dancers Do…

Dance duh!

But it’s during that dance where a lot of dancers do things like jumping, squats, holding different squat and lunge positions, and even at times use very slow tempo movements.

Based on that, you have a concentration on

  • Strength
  • Endurance strength
  • Power

Each of these is a different type of training. It should be said that you don’t want to focus on just your legs because a strong upper body can help create momentum for lower body power too. Plus you want a body that is balanced.

It’s Not Just About The Hamstring

Your hamstring complex is important but it’s really everything including a good focus on core strength. Being a dancer, core strength is vital because you need that ability to brace and control lightning quick movement.

So the exercises we are going to go over and big exercises that bring in the whole body. To change them up we’ll do a few cool things.

Exercise 1: The Deadlift

Dancer Deadlift

I don’t know if dancers deadlift, but the ones that do will out dancer their counterparts. Deadlifting is great because it targets your hamstrings and glutes your core, lower back and more. It’s a fundamental exercise.

For Strength – Go heavy. Use small amounts of rest and go as heavy as you can. It’s best to do this for 3 months minimum so you can make the gains you want. Don’t worry, you can mix in power too.

For Endurance – There is so much you can do, but after 3 months of strength training, go high reps. I’m talking more than 14 reps. This will really help you build endurance strength.

For Power – Jumps are the best. Jumps are used in dancing all the time. You can’t really do deadlift jumps but a great alternative would be snatches. This is a complex move so make sure you get help and work with a trainer until you get the exercise down.

Exercise 2: Walking Lunges

Dancer Lunges

Lunges are amazing for your legs and really hit your hamstrings as well. The variations are endless. Just make sure you really work on form because lunges can put your knee in compromising positions.

For Strength – You can go heavy by doing heavy DB walking lunges. This is tough because it’s similar to doing a farmers carry while lunging. The key to really increasing your strength will be to stay long when you walk. This way your legs are constantly engaged.

For Endurance - You will use lighter weight and more reps to see how long you can make your legs keep going. Again keep form in mind because as you get tired, form will naturally start to break down.

A good variation would be to do lunge walks and at the full lunge position… STOP and hold for 4 seconds… then continue into your next lunge.

For Power – Rather than do lunge walks, you can do lunge jumps. There are two that are perfect for power. You can do high lunge jumps and you can do stay low lunge jumps.

High really increases power and the low lunge jumps are all about speed production… also important for dancers.

Exercise 3: Hip Extensions

Hip Extension

A hip extension is an exercise that really isolates your glutes more than your hamstrings. Your hamstrings come in for synergy and support though. However your glutes are great for helping you dance and create the movement you need.

For Strength – Use a barbell and load it up heavy for you. Then rest your back on a soft bench and make sure you can lift the bar as it lays across your hips. Then lower your hips and raise them high… you’ll feel your butt active immediately.

For Endurance - Same idea we have talked a lot about. Just lower the weight and go higher rep to build endurance strength. That’s a fundamental.

You can also do floor bridges which is essentially this same exercise but you just hold the position for as long as you can. It’s great for your butt and your core strength too.

For Power – You can do the same hip extension with low low weight and really pop your hits. It helps to have a pad to rest the bar on so you don’t bruise your hips.

You can also do floor bridge hop ups. This is a floor bridge where you will lower your hips and hop your feet onto a step. It’s a great power move.

Dancers Legs And Core Are Central To Strength, Endurance, and Power

These are just three exercises you can do with a host of others. Training like this working in with your normal dance classes will create some amazing moves.

Make sure you don’t get yourself into a state of overtraining though.

One last thing incase your wondering about it. You may put on some size but if you have a good nutrition plan, you won’t get big. It’s actually impossible.

Email me if you have any questions.

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