Are you a dancer looking to improve your skills on the dance floor? Making sure you warm up properly is an important part of any dancer’s preparation, and it can make all the difference when it comes to getting ready for your next performance or class. To help make the process smoother and increase efficiency, we have put together a list of 8 warm up exercises for dancing that you should practice before hitting the dance floor. These simple warm up exercises will loosen up your muscles, give flexibility to the joints, and elevate your heart rate in an effort to prepare you for either dance practice or a competition. Read on as our professional dancers from Dancing Fads in Durham, NC discuss each of these exercises in detail and provide tips for assimilating them into your dance routine.
The Benefits of Stretching Before Dancing (or Any Exercise)
You’ve probably been told to stretch before exercising to prevent injury to your muscles. And, it’s true – by literally warming up your muscles, you will gently awaken them and encourage them to be limber which decreases the risk of muscle strain.
But more than that, stretching is the best way to maximize your range of movement in your upcoming exercise, whether that be running, dancing, or strength training. And when you are able to maximize your range of movement, you are able to get the maximum effect out of your workout. Consider this: You will be spending 30 minutes exercising. The amount of effort you put in in that amount of time is up to you, but either way, you will still be spending 30 minutes of your time exercising. Wouldn’t you prefer to get the maximum results out of your workout by giving it your all? In order to give it your all, you must be well-rested, nourished, and thoroughly warm up your body.
As with any stretch or movement, it’s important to ease into each movement. This way, you can gradually increase your range of motion as your body warms up and resist straining your muscles. Once you perform an exercise a couple of times, you’ll notice the greater range of movement you can execute as you keep going. Now, let’s dive into 8 essential warm up exercises for dancing.
8 Warm Up Exercises for Dancing with Complete Instructions
Before dancing, it is important to warm up by incorporating dynamic exercises that will elevate your heart rate and prepare your muscles for dance. You can achieve this by doing light cardio such as jumping jacks, high knees, mountain climbers, or by simply jogging in place. Once you have elevated your heart rate, it’s time to get into the stretches that will limber you up.
Place one hand on the bar and swing the leg furthest away from the barre back and forth. One swing back and forth counts for 1 rep, so do this 10 times before switching to the other leg and repeating this exercise. When performing leg swings, it’s important to keep both knees slightly bent as to not lock out either leg.
Calf raises are incorporated into various types of exercises including strength training to promote strong calf muscles which protect the ankles. There are various ways in which you can perform calf raises, but we like to face the barre, place both hands on the bar and position the feet pointing outwards but not as far out as you would in first position. With your heels together, perform a full range of motion by lifting your heels as high off the dance floor as they can go without overstretching your calf muscles. As stated previously, your range of movement will increase as you perform more reps. Perform 10 calf raises followed by 10 pulsing calf raises, followed by another 10 calf raises.
Static Lunges with Arm Rows
Lunges are one of the best lower body exercises to strengthen your quads, hamstrings, and thighs. For these static lunges with arm circles, begin by standing upright before placing your left leg behind your right. With your right knee soft and your left leg nearly straight, lower your body so that your left knee is hovering just above the dance floor. You should notice that your legs mimic 90-degree angles. Now, lace both of your hands together (as if you are holding your own hand) and replicate a rowing motion to the left side of your body before switching to row on the right side of your body. This rowing motion greatly mimics how one may row a paddle in a boat. For the duration of your rows, keep your lunge position where your back knee is hovering just above the floor. Perform 10 reps of rows before swapping and placing your left leg in front and hovering your right knee just above the floor. For this exercise, 1 rep = 1 row. Thus, once you’ve completed 5 rows on each side of your body, you can swap your lunge position and complete the same exercise on the other side.
Slow Mountain Climbers
Get into a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart on the dance floor and your feet slightly wider than your hands. From this plank position, bend your right knee and pull it in as close to your right elbow as possible. Then, alternate and bend your left knee to reach your left elbow. Take this movement slow so you can feel the stretch in your core.
Follow this short 1-minute video to ensure your form is proper and you are getting the most out of your mountain climbers. You can perform this warm up exercise for dancing until it feels good to you, but we tend to aim for 12 reps in total.
Arm circles can be performed in a variety of ways, but for this particular warm up exercise, begin by placing your feet shoulder-width apart and lift your arms up as if you are raising both hands to ask a question. Then, simply roll your shoulders back and down until your arms are facing backward with your palms facing outward. Perform 5 shoulder circles before alternating and performing the move the opposite way. This time, you’ll begin from the back of your body, move your arms towards your head, and finish with your arms in front with your palms facing your thighs.
Shoulder shrugs are a simple exercise that will help you effectively warm up for dancing. Simply stand tall, lift your shoulders up towards your ears, and roll your shoulders back and down your back to finish in your starting position. After you perform up to 10 reps, you can roll your shoulders the opposite way by starting from the back and finishing in the front. Shoulder shrugs are a great way to loosen your chest and back muscles.
As a dancer, you already know how to do pliés, so this warm up exercise is intuitive! All you need to do is stand up tall, get in first position, and squat down by bending your knees. As with the calf raises, make sure you ease into this movement.
After you perform a couple of reps, you will notice your range of motion has greatly increased and you can lower further in your squat. A plié is most likely in your dance routine or dance practice choreography, so by practicing it in your warm up, you are activating the muscles you’ll be working shortly.
Dance Lessons for Beginners, Intermediate, and Seasoned Dancers in Durham, NC
No matter what journey of your dancing career you are in, Dancing Fads welcomes dancers of all levels to engage in dance classes led by professional dancers. Join us in person at our dance studio in Durham, NC where we offer dance classes for brides-to-be, ballroom dance lessons for couples, dance classes for individuals, and more! If you’re unsure what type of dance lessons you want to engage in, take a look at our calendar of events for inspiration and a monthly schedule of private and group dance lessons.
Whether you want to learn a new skill, acquire a new hobby, or perfect your dance routine for an upcoming competition, our professional dancers will help you every step of the way. Get started with our new student special for just $60 for 2 dance lessons today! Schedule your lesson today by giving our dance studio in Durham a call at 919-489-4313 or filling out the contact form below. We look forward to dancing with you!