Strength & Conditioning for Dancers

Kaizen Centre working with Dancers for better performance

Working in association with Dance Clinic www.danceclinic.co.uk we have recently been working with a load of dancers, from young athletes recovering from an injury or working towards an audition to pro dancers looking to sculpt their bodies or develop better stabilisation and dynamic strength for their respective art forms. In the last month, we’ve seen Irish dancers, ballet dancers and contemporary dancers working very hard in the conditioning room at the Kaizen Centre Birmingham.


Dance Injuries.

One word. Inevitable!

Having a conversation with a pro dancer is like a conversation with a stunt man! It invariably comes around to what injuries they’re currently managing or dealing with. Or that they are waiting to get to the end of a show before going for surgery!

Physical high performance careers can take their toll, so body management, injury prevention and strength development strategies are vital for all kinds of dancer and at every stage of their career.


Dance specific strength & conditioning

Every style has its own demands on the body and much of the specifics towards S&C across all disciplines is based upon Pilates principles, Reformer work, perhaps some Gyrokinetics and tonnes of stability work. Ace!

What about shifting some Iron, I say? Dynamism will come from power, power from faster application of strength, strength being the underlying foundation of it all. Add to that deceleration strength, negative reps and some metabolic conditioning workouts and any dance athlete will benefit from working ‘The Iron’.

During a performance, the body will fatigue, losing its lines, increasing the chance of injury. By training a body across multi disciplines and outside of the parameters of traditional ranges of movement (in addition to within them), a dancer will develop a more rounded ability to manage acceleration and deceleration movements under duress.


Squat. Deadlift. Press.

The fundamentals are simply the above, Squat, Deadlift, Press, the foundation of a strong, healthy and power packed body. They should not be ignored and will compliment all of the dance specific exercises and programmes that have over the years created the great names in dance.

Taking time to understand the demands and mechanics of dance and also finding commonalities in injury type and key strength development areas amongst the dancers, we are utilising both some classic and innovative movements to bring injury free training and performance to young and established performers alike.

Squat. Deadlift. Press. Then a series of adapted lunges and pivoting movements, creative use of medicine balls and through-range low load stabilisation work all work in conjunction with the basic push and pull movements.


Leap of faith

Dancers (particularly female) may want to avoid the mass builder lifts, out of fear of bulking up. This is clearly for aesthetic reasons. No-one wants to see Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Tutu!!

Genetics makes this highly unlikely, if not impossible. So forget the concept of ‘toning’. Build muscle. Lean strong muscle. That’s the basis of your future dancer endeavours. You’ll go through conditioning phases. You might even feel pumped from time to time! But ‘The Pump’ leaves and what’s left is strong useable power. Add some Olympic Lifts, Plyometrics and stick with the Pilates and Yoga, then the journey to Principal or West End lead could lie ahead of you..

See you in the power rack soon!



Carlos Acosta

A quick note of congratulations to Carlos Acosta, recently announced as the new Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet. I look forward to being at the first of your new productions.



Claudia Nicholson (Birmingham Royal Ballet) training at Kaizen Centre Birmingham.