Unlike soccer or football, ballroom dancing is rarely considered a sport. Yet dancing places a lot of athletic demands on your body. A good ballroom dancer needs more than proper technique for the varying styles of dance, they also perform rigorous movements and steps that simultaneously require a high level of strength, control, flexibility, and stamina. Ballroom dancers, as all athletes, train through stretching and exercise to improve their abilities and prevent injury. Building core endurance is essential in a dancer’s training because core strength is the foundation for all dance moves.

What is the Core?

Your core is a complex series of muscles, encompassing much more than just your abs; it refers to the entire trunk of your body. Many muscles are involved including the gluteus, pelvic and scapular muscles. These muscles stabilize, align balance, and aid in flexibility. All body movements originate from the core. The core supports the entire body and the stronger the core, the greater control of the dancer.

How to strengthen the Core?

The plank is one of the best exercises for core conditioning. The plank is an isometric core strength exercise, that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, unlike crunches and sit-ups which only target your abdominal muscles. The plank also strengthens supporting muscles such as the glutes, hamstrings, shoulders and arms. It improves posture and balance and is relatively easy to do. It does not require any equipment or preparation and they can be done virtually anywhere. Planks are perfect for both beginners and experienced dancers.

How to perform a basic Plank:

Start by getting into a push-up like position.
Bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms.Hands should be in front of shoulders, with forearms parallel to your spine, and elbows directly under the shoulders.
Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Strict posture must be maintained, with a flat back and level hips.
Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine.
Squeeze your gluteal and thigh muscles simultaneously while continuing to breath normally.
Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times or until you begin to lose proper form.

Many variations of this plank exist such as the side plank and the reverse plank. Each direction engages different sets of muscles for all-around toning and strengthening.

Additional plank exercise links: