We’ve all been there – staring at the results pinned up on the wall with thoughts of frustration clamoring through our head. Just one or two placings away from where we wanted to be. “More height in jumps, feet not turned out, fix arms,” the judges’ comments say. You practiced day in and day out, running your steps every chance you got, so what is keeping you from having that extra oomph you need to take your dancing up a notch?
The answer is cross-training.
From beginners to champs, we know it’s what we need to really advance as dancers. Time and time again our teachers emphasize the importance of strengthening muscles and building stamina. But, many dancers find themselves at a loss for exactly how to train outside of simply dancing.
So, after thorough investigation (and quite a few sore muscles), I devised an Irish-dancer-friendly list of workouts, wildly popular in fitness right now, that are sure to enhance your dance.
The list is broken down by which areas of Irish dance each workout will benefit.
You can likely find classes for these in your area, and remember, you can always check out the Goals section here on Diddlyi for great workouts to do at home.
Dance areas impacted: Posture, arms (especially for teams), and flexibility.
Muscles Worked: Lower back, arms, shoulders, core, and muscle length.
Seeking perfect posture on stage? Need to fix those flailing arms or polish up your team’s performance? Your arms, shoulders, chest, and core will get some special attention in this fun partner workout. Acro is also a great trust-builder for teams as it focuses on synchronizing with another person.
Dance areas impacted: Cuts, lift, high kicks, sharper clicks, and closing gappy thighs.
Muscles Worked: Glutes, quads, inner and outer thigh muscles, calves, & core.
Although there IS a ballet bar involved, this is a far cry from tondues and plies. Like a revved up pilates session, Pure Barre uses small contracting motions to develop serious strength.
Dance areas impacted: Stamina!! Jump power, and total body strength.
Muscles Worked: Cardio, total body strength.
Do the words “all 3 steps in a row” strike fear into your heart? Then this is the workout for you. It’s “high intensity interval training” which is a fancy way of saying that it packs a lot of fast-paced cardio into a short amount of time.
Dance impacted: height on toes, balance, point strength, core for jumps, and CONFIDENCE!
Ever dreamed of running away to join the circus? Of course, we all have! This sport let’s you do just that. Aerials give you a beautiful escape from reality while challenging you to take your body & fitness to new heights. The muscles worked will depend on whether you do silks or trapeze—
Trapeze: Calf and core strength.
Silks: Core, arms, flexibility.
Dance impacted: turn out, powerful leaps, jumps, stamina.
Muscles Worked: Hips, quads, hamstrings, glutes.
More approachable than big squat bar, Kettlebells are adaptable round weights with a handle on top. Using lots of lifting from the hips, a kettlebell class is great for strengthening those turnout muscles, and most Kettlebell instructors can tailor workouts to your needs.
Note: Always seek aid of a certified instructor when first attempting an unfamiliar workout.
Photo credit: Images are courtesy of and belong to author.
Whether you are training for an Oireachtas, taking your first steps in Irish dancing or you just want to get fit in a fun way, Diddlyi has what you need. Access all of our online Irish dance workshops FREE for 24 hours - it takes less than a minute to register!