Week one into my new programme and all I feel like saying is wow oh wow!
I feel AWESOME!
I did my three sessions, nicely spaced out and have been surprised that I can do it. Especially the upper body work, were previously I would have drawn the line at push ups, I am now doing bench presses and over head presses. Obviously I am not lifting a huge amount of weight but the point is I am doing it.
Something I think most dancers will identify with is the difficulty in keeping the rib cage and shoulders stable. Though dancers have great posture, it’s common to take a high release in the chest and work with a lifted rib cage – a slight backward curve of the thoracic spine. This is something Angela coached me on and I am defiantly working hard to keep that in check with any over head work.
Lets talk about some general science shall we?
Dancing is a pretty hard form of exercise to stick a pin in. Its just so wiggly.
Lifting weights is pretty easy to get ones head around.
For strength training I will be lifting heavy heavy weights 8-10 times and then having a break and repeating it again, and then again. 8-10reps and 3 sets. The effects of this on the muscles is to increase strength, raise metabolism and increase muscle mass slightly. As the weeks progress my load will get heavier and I will get stronger and see changes in my body too. (More on this next week)
Strength training is also Anaerobic. That means that unlike jogging or cycling which are continuous activities that use tons of oxygen, you only need to work really hard for a short amount of time. That means you don’t need to use all that much oxygen to create the movement. You will also get a little break to refresh yourself before going again.
You can also tailor your work out for specific muscle groups. Upper body and lower body, hamstrings, biceps, gluteus and so on, the muscles are easy to divid and concur.
Oh man, if only dancing was so easy, sigh.
Dancing (my current schedule of classes at least) is also anaerobic.
GASP from the dancers
GASP from the fitness professions
GASP for everyone
Yes it’s really tough, yes you get really sweaty and yes dancers are in great shape BUT I would argue that when you get down to it, dance is an anaerobic activity. A sequence, exercise or routine will only tend to be as long as a song. So max 3-4 mins. During those amazing 3-4 mins dancers wont be using the same muscle groups all the time, they wont be working at the same intensity all the time and there are usually quieter moments to catch your breath. BOOM. Anaerobic. Also in terms of training exercises, corner work and technique work (drills for want of a better word) we are looking at 2-5 mins learning the sequence and only 45 seconds to a minute of work before we stop and learn something new or another group perform.
So yeah, they have this similarity. Does that mean that they are the same? Not really- but I think they could be good friends!
Another nice thing dance and weight lifting have in common is that dance promotes a nice equality in the body. Dancers work everything on the right and left, which you may not find from, say . . . a tennis player who will have one mega-tron arm and one not so mega-tron arm. So thats also a win.
These might be some of the reasons that in these first three sessions I feel my body is taking to it all pretty well. When I went to class during the week I felt fatigue in my muscles but no more so then usual (I am always a bit sore lets face it.) I haven’t found that my movement is limited, I don’t feel like I have lost any flexibility (one of the most common fears amongst dancers). The DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) haven’t been anything like I expected. A protein shake here and foam roller there and I am golden.
My last noteworthy finding is that I have needed to get my head around not feeling exhausted when I leave the gym. After a good hour and half dance class I usually feel totally wiped out. I would leave everything in the studio when I leave, no leap half leapt, no hair-whip half whipped. The emotional and physical lease is what I love love love. Leaving the free weights room after lifting (assuming I didn’t do any cardio) I usually feel pretty perky. Its wierd? Like I could maybe go swimming or to a class as well? My legs might be dropping off but mentally and emotionally I feel fresh. I almost feel guilty. Maybe I am not doing it right?