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Why Should Dancers do Strength and Conditioning?

Dance has often been described as an athletic art form. Its physical demands and training culture are unique compared to other sports and as such, elicit a high injury rate. Despite this, dancers (particularly recreational) do not participate in regular strength and conditioning classes. This BLOG article will look at some of the main reasons dancers should seek out specialised strength and conditioning training as an addition to their dance classes.


The prevalence of injury in dance is quite high. A recent analysis of studies related to dance injury (1), found that for every 1,000 amateur dance hours undertaken, there is approximately 1 injury. For professional dancers, this rate was higher at 1 to 1.5 injuries per 1,000 dance hours. The majority of these injuries were due to overuse, surprisingly with a higher rate (75%) in amateur dancers than professional dancers (50 – 64 %).

Further research has identified a number of predictors of dance injuries (such as faulty technique and biomechanical/muscle imbalances). Targeted and individualised strength and conditioning training can correct these issues, reducing risk of injury.

It has been suggested that, in addition to screening for potential injury predictors, dancers need supplementary assistance with physical training, proper nutrition and rest, specialised health care services and health care practitioners acquainted with both the physical and psychological intricacies of dance.(2) Physical training, for the purpose of increasing strength or conditioning, is not embedded in the culture of dance as it is for athletes.


Similar to the strength and conditioning side of training, dance lessons are not designed to elicit cardiovascular fitness or adaptation. For example, a Pettit Allegro or even Grand Allegro exercise may go for between 10 and 40 seconds, performed once, then the dancer may ‘rest’ for a minute or two whilst the next group performs the exercise or corrections are given. This type of activity pattern utilises the glycolytic pathway for energy.

However, dance performance has been found to use the lactate and aerobic systems. Whilst the intensity may remain the same as the centre work in class, the duration in performance is longer, with one to four-minute intervals of activity. From this, we can see that the class does not train the dancer for performance.

But won’t going to the gym make me bulky?

No! Not if it is done correctly. One of these misconceptions is that strength / conditioning training will build muscle bulk. Understanding why this is not the case, however, requires education. Dancers should understand how their body works, especially with relation to muscles, motor control and adaptation. (Not just be given a series of ‘magical’ exercises).

This type of information is not usually provided in a dance class, so aspiring dancers that don’t have the resources offered by full time / pre-professional dance schools, need to have access to education and strength and conditioning services suited to their needs.

So what can Dancewright do, that my local gym, PT or online program can’t?

After assessing each dancer individually, Dancewright’s small group or individual sessions offer a personalised strength and conditioning program, rather than a one size fits all approach. In addition, Dancewright offers educational sessions that incorporate anatomy and physiology information as it relates to dance movements.

Being an ex-dancer, I speak the language and understand many of the struggles, both physical and psychological, dancers face. This is something not all Personal Trainers or gyms understand. Because sessions are small, dancers can be corrected for correct technique and re-assessed if an exercise is too easy or too hard – something an online program generally can’t do.

So what Dancewright program is right for me / my dancer?

Starting off by attending the SUMMER PROGRAM (Jan 2018) is a great way to get back into the year, gain a whole heap of information and practical sessions about muscles, posture, feet/ ankles etc. Also, you will get an initial 20 min individual session to help you get started on your strength and conditioning journey.

Alternatively, book your Opening Special Pack now and reserve your place for 2018. The pack offers all the components you need to get started with Dancewright including a screening session, discounted small group sessions and more.

Specific Quotes:

  1. Smith, P. J., Gerrie, B. J., Varner, K. E., McCulloch, P. C., Lintner, D. M., & Harris, J. D. (2015). Incidence and prevalence of musculoskeletal injury in ballet: a systematic review. (7), 1-9. doi:10.1177/2325967115592621

  2. Russell, J. A. (2013). Preventing dance injuries:current perspectives. , 199-210. doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S36529

Other Resources Used:

Davenport, K. l., Air, M., Grierson, M., & Krabak, B. (2016). Examination of static and dynamic core strength and rates of reported dance related injury in collegiate dancers: a cross-sectional study. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, 20(4), 151-161. Retrieved from

IADMS. (2011). Resource Paper: Dance Fitness. Retrieved June 14, 2017, from IADMS:

Kotler, D. H., Lynch, M., Cushman, D., Hu, J., & Garner, J. (2017). Dacers' percieved and actual knowledge of anatomy. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, 21(2), 76-81. Retrieved from

Koutedakis, Y., Owolabi, E. O., & Apostolos, M. (2008). Dance Biomechanics: a tool for controlling health, fitness and training. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, 12(3), 83-90. Retrieved from

Rodrigues-Krause, J., Krause, M., & Reischak-Oliveira, A. (2015). Cardiorespiratory considerations in dance: from classes to performance. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, 19(3), 91-102. Retrieved from

Stracciolini, A., Hanson, E., Kiefer, A. W., Myer, G. D., & Faigenbaum, A. D. (2016). Resistance training for pediatric female dancers. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, 20(1), 11-22. Retrieved from

Wyon, M. (2005). Cardiorespiratory training for dancers. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, 9(1), 7-12. Retrieved from

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