Whether your goal is to have a sculpted 6-pack or simply a stronger more toned midsection, DanceBody can help get you there. For dancers, the abs are the driving force behind every powerful movement. Operating your body with a strong core enhances balance and posture while preventing injury. All dancers know that abdominal activation is the secret weapon.
Whether you're crunching away with us in the studio or doing your thing at home in your living room, these are the tips you need to know for strengthening your core like a dancer.
The most important tip for abs is to simply use your breath. The easiest way to think about this principle is to think: “exhale on the effort.” Meaning that during the contraction part of your ab exercise (you know, that part where it burns!) make sure you blow the air out of your stomach and don’t hold your breath. Inhaling on the release. This proper flow of breath will ensure you are able to actively communicate your muscles, without excess air getting in the way - we want the lines of communication to stay pure.
Most people mindlessly crunch away, and in doing so hold their breath causing a block in the stomach. Breath work is crucial to creating efficient flow during abdominal exercises.
As you crunch up, with your neck away from your chest and your nose towards the sky, you want to breathe out and pull the navel back towards your spine. This will encourage the use of your low, deep abs and your rectus abdominis (aka the muscle that gives you a 6-pack and helps you jump higher!). When laying down on your back for abs, maintain a neutral spine - suction the navel in, keep your chin away from your chest, and exhale on the effort.
Abs are Made on the Dance Floor
Abs aren’t all about crunches. In DanceBody classes we are using our abs 100% from the moment we start moving. We don’t wait until the official “abs on the mat” moment. A regular dance cardio routine will help you strengthen your abs quicker, while also getting your heart rate up. Dance movements automatically engage your core; for example, every time you bring your knee up to your elbow, you are engaging your obliques, when you pump your body forward you are engaging your rectus. All this, without having to necessarily think about crunching, even though you truly are. If you’re dancing, your abs are even working hard to hold you upright while you twist and turn your body.
No More Necking
Many people feel their necks straining during abs workouts. When our abdominals are weaker, other parts of our body can compensate to help out.
Follow these tips to prevent neck strain and tension for mat exercises:
- When you’re lying supine on the mat, start by slightly tucking your hips and pulling your navel toward your spine.
- When you’re lying on the mat, actively press your spine down into the mat.
- Before you start to crunch, pull your shoulders down and inward toward the middle of your back to help take the pressure off of your neck.
- Keep an open "proud" chest by keeping your gaze towards the ceiling, wide elbows pointed outwards. This will engage the back muscles and brace the body for movement.
- When holding your head before crunching upward, do not interlace your hands, instead, lay your hands on top of each other to decrease the chances of pulling your neck forward.
- Allow the weight of your head to rest in your hands without gripping or pulling on the neck and place an “apple” between your chin away from your chest.
Proper form and regular dance cardio are the key to achieving dancer abs. Try this video below at home for a total ab workout.