Cardio for Dancers
by Amanda Jane Snyder
If you know my content you know that I primarily work with actors, singers, and dancers to optimize their health and fitness so they can feel confident in auditions and on stage. A lot of this work centers around injury prevention which includes strength and corrective exercise programs. Lots of dancers are over using certain muscle groups or are right side dominant (or left side!) because dance and choreography is repetitive. Repetitive action can lead to injury and overuse IF there aren't any other systems in place besides dance.
But what about cardio? Isn't dance a form of cardio? Are we getting enough cardio in dance class and in performances for optimal health? And does this dance cardio prepare us for the endurance we will need on stage during a show? What if it's a 3 hour show and you're on stage the whole time?
Cardio is often overlooked for dancers because we assume it's already set but this isn't always the case. A solid cardio base should be foundational for all dancers and performers who are serious about their career and performance endurance. Building this base outside of dance class can prepare you for the demands of a performance or show without overtraining specific muscles used repetitively in choreography or stage blocking.
I would recommend any low impact cardio such as walking, elliptical, cycling, or rowing as the foundation for cardiovascular endurance. The most successful marathoners point to zone 2 cardio training as the most important aspect of their training so that they can sustain the challenges of a 2-3 hour race. If marathoners are prioritizing zone 2 for just one single race day, shouldn't dancers who are performing for 2-3 hours EVERY NIGHT do the same?
Zone 2 cardio is a training zone that allows you to build an aerobic base. It should feel easy enough to carry on a comfortable conversation or to sing a song easily while exercising. It is low intensity! If we're thinking about heart rate, your heart rate should be between 50-60% of your heart rate max. Training in Zone 2 for an hour once or twice a week as a performer will create that foundation that you need for the stage.
Are you a dancer? Do you practice cardio outside of dance? Let me know!
Amanda Jane Snyder is a certified FRCms instructor, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and Mindset Coach living in Brooklyn, NY. She has been vegan since 2016. She specializes in Strength and Conditioning for Actors, Singers, and Dancers.
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