Thursday, 11 February 2016

Aerobic training for the Dancer

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Dance is not often regarded as a sport, however the demands are just as high as those of Olympic athletes. Dancers require the same psychological readiness, motor control and aerobic and anaerobic capacities of their fellow sports men and women, yet they require something more complex.  A level of personal artistry is required by the individual during performances with an aim to achieve an aesthetic goal of clean lines, high elevation, precision, poise and grace whilst maintaining the endurance to perform anaerobically on and off for 30-60seconds at a time. Additionally, a level of strength is required to hold limbs against gravity and speed to move efficiently in a coordinated and effortless rhythmic manner. Thus dancers must be physically ‘fit’. However, only 40% of a dancers fitness may be linked to their genetics, leaving a large 60% to the dancers regular training, diet and appropriate lifestyle.

Researchers have found dancers less physically well-conditioned than sporting athletes through lower anaerobic values as well as lower maximal oxygen uptake compared to elite adolescent endurance athletes.

A dance class of centre work reaches 70-80% of VO2 max, with similar responses during ballet performances. A class, however only reaches this intensity for a brief period of up to 3 minutes, 16-32 jumps or a 15-20 second grand allegro combination. Because fairly strenuous exercise intensities for at least 20 minutes are needed to bring about an increase in aerobic fitness, it is unlikely that a class provides a suitable stimulus for adaptation.


Improving aerobic endurance

Aerobic endurance is the body's ability to supply the muscles with the oxygen they need to continue working over an extended period.

   This is affected by the lungs efficiency to take oxygen into the blood, how well the heart and arteries can pump the oxygen rich blood to the muscles, and how efficiently the capillaries can release the oxygen, then complete the cycle by exchanging carbon dioxide for fresh oxygen.

    When challenged by working a little longer or under more intensity than normal, the aerobic capacity expands.


How to improve aerobic capacity

It is recommended to engage in activity that increases your heart rate (HR) to 75% max HR for 20-30 minutes 3 or more times a week.

You can find your maximum HR through this formula:
220 – (your age) = estimated HR max in beats per minute (BPM)
This formula may find your aerobic training target:
HR max X .75 = Aerobic training target

Personal Heart rate monitors are not ideal to wear when dancing, especially when performing, due to a wrist watch monitor, however one may be worn whilst doing additional training to record exercise effort.

There are many enjoyable aerobic activities to partake on your own or in a group/club such as; jogging, running, swimming, cycling, cross training, rowing etc. Many of these activities can be done both indoors and outdoors, thus there is always a way to keep things interesting and easy to work around dance class.


Please comment with any questions or contact me if you want a personalised training plan
- E



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