Dancer legs. They’re not just long and lean. They’re strong. They’re flexible. And they don’t necessarily come easy. We Rockettes keep our stems in shape through specific dance exercises that strengthen and lengthen. Here are four target moves from top to bottom (or should we say bottom to ankle) to get iconic dancer legs. Trust us, we’re experts.
1. Glutes and Hamstrings – Marching Hip Raise with Feet on a Swiss Ball
Number seven in the linked slide show demonstrates a simple dance exercise to get a toned dancer-derriere. Having strong dancer glutes not only helps you move faster and more powerfully, but helps prevent knee and low back injuries, too.
2. Inner Thighs – Standing Plié Squats
Deborah Horton, dancer, personal trainer and group fitness instructor, tells Dance Spirit Magazine, “The inner thigh, like any upper leg area, helps stabilize the knee joint.” And when it comes to turning out, many dancers try to work from their knees. Strong inner thighs, thanks to this dance exercise, help you turn out at the hip where it counts the most.
3. Hamstrings and Calves – Standing Leg Curl
Strong hamstrings let you pivot quicker, leap higher and move with powerful bursts of speed. This move gets you there, and all you need is a rolled-up yoga mat or towel, and a chair for balance if you need it.
4. Calves and Ankles – Ballet Calf Raises
For some, this dance exercise might seem like old hat, but we see it as classic. Ballet calf raises strengthen both parts of the calf—the gastrocnemius (that toned muscle you actually see on the back of your legs), as well as the soleus (beneath it). The next time you’re balancing on the balls of your feet, whether in the dance studio or reaching for something in the grocery store, thank your strong calves.
by Erin Sandberg