warming up for dance

The Secret to Warming Up for Dance Auditions…The Right Way!

I get it. Warming up for dance auditions is challenging. You’re squished into a tiny holding room that’s basically a landmine of dance bags, water bottles, and feet. 

Half the room is doing their makeup, the other half is waiting to find out if they’ll be seen. And everyone else is being very particular about “the line.” 

It’s noisy, cramped, and definitely not an ideal space to warm up for dance. Especially if you are trying to actually warm up – not just sit in a deep second while you catch up with your friends.


But despite its challenges, studies show that warming up before auditions (or any physical activity)  improves performance. 

Active and passive warm-ups ensure your muscles are supplied with oxygen and are at the at optimal temperature for flexibility and efficiency, and it  helps to minimize stress on your heart. Because of this, warming your body up for dance also helps reduce the risk of injuries to muscles and tendons because they are already stretched and warmed.


Think of it like turning the air conditioner on. At first, the AC has to work extra hard to bring the temperature of the room down. But once it’s cooled, you can change the setting to “energy saving” which simply “maintains” the temperature by working at a lower energy level. 


So what should I do when warming up for dance auditions and classes?


A good warm up exercises bring the body temperature and heart rate up without over exhausting your system. 

The biggest thing is we want your warm up to be dynamic; consisting of an active cycle and a passive cycle (post warm up when you keep your body warm while waiting). 


A great way to do this is to have a consistent, active warm up that you do every time you are warming up for dance. That way, whether you are auditioning, taking dance class, or doing pre-production, your body is prepped to do what it needs to do. 


Then, after your active warm up, keep your layers on and stay warm. 


And Finally, don’t forget to warm up your mind. 


Studies have shown that athletes who prepare their minds before working out feel less stressed and more mentally ready use mental skills to exercise than those who did not.

Imagine walking into an audition room feeling less stressed, mentally focused, and ready to work physically?

A dream.


Want a sample of what warming up for dance should look like with all this in mind?

I thought you’d never ask.


Warming Up for Dance Auditions- Holding Room Approved!

Before we even start, I want you to first find a little space. In all my years as a professional dancer, I have learned that if you claim space people will give it to you. 

Now, don’t be a jerk, but find enough room to warm up, and people will respect that. Usually an acceptable rule of thumb is, enough room to do a plank will give you enough room to warm up. 

Let’s get started: 


  • Good Mornings:

Now that you have room, stand with your feet hip width apart and place your hands on your hips. 

Now, soften your kneels and gently hinge your hips back, keeping your core braced. You should feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings and a contraction in your glutes as you stand. 

Repeat this about ten times to “wake-up” the backs of your legs. 


  • Lunge with a Twist

For this one you’ll want to lunge forward, keeping your hips square. 

Then, slowly twist your shoulders toward your front leg,  and reach your arms in opposite directions. 

Finally, return to center and step back to parallel. 

Repeat on the other side, alternating for a total of 12 reps (6 on each side). 


  • Runner’s Lunge with Flexion and Extension

This warm up is wonderful for kicking on your glutes and core while also opening up your psoas muscle. 

To set yourself up, get into a lunge with bloth legs bent. For high intensity, place your hands on your hips rather than the floor. (If you choose to keep your hands on the floor, make sure your hips maintain a straight line with your back and remain square). 

Next, slowly straighten your back leg by pushing through your heel. Then, slowly bend back to the starting position. 

Repeat this for ten reps on each side. 


*Tip: the slower you move, the more challenging this exercise will be!


  • Kneeling Hip Tucks

Stay in your kneeling position for this one! Place your hands on your hips and, keeping your spine neutral, tuck your hips then return to neutral. 

You should feel the stretch in the front of the back leg, so long as your hips remain square, and your glutes stay engaged!

Repeat for 12-15 reps on each side. 


  • Kneeling Hamstring Hinges

You may want to place something under your knee for this one!

To set up, you’ll simply extend your front leg from your lunge so that one leg is straight in front of you, while your are kneeling tall on the other. 

To relieve pressure from your knee, make sure you are pushing into the shin of your bent leg and engaging your glutes and core. 

Place your hands on your hips and, maintaining a braced core, hinge your hips backward. 

Squeeze your glutes (much like a deadlift) to push your hips back to neutral. 

Repeat this for 8-10 reps on each side.


  • Hamstring Slides

For this next one, use your dance bag to rest your hand on for balance if you need! 

This warm up has the same starting position as our Hamstring Hinges, except, instead of hinging, you slowly slide your foot forward until you feel a stretch. 


Then, activating your hamstring, pull your hips backward to return to your neutral position.

(To add some extra range of motion, you can pull all the way back into a hinge before returning to neutral if you’re in need that day)!

Repeat this on each side however many times you need until you reach your maximum range of motion. 


  • Eccentric Push-ups (Standard or Kneeling)

Warming up for dance would not be complete if we didn’t warm up our upper body as well!

For this exercise, you’ll want to get into a plank position. (If that is too challenging for you, this also works from a kneeling position as well!) Your hands should aligned with your shoulder.

In your plank remember to gently pull your shoulder blades together, and brace your core. 

Slowly lower yourself toward the floor as low as possible with control. When you’ve reached your max, gentle let yourself down to the floor and reset in your plank. 

Repeat this for 6-8 reps. 


  • Mountain Climbers

Now, that our bodies are warm, let’s raise that heart rate a bit. 

Get yourself into your plank position. Shoulders down, core activated. 

Start slowly, and without letting your hips shoot up to the ceiling, pull your right knee into your chest. 

Then, shoot it back, while your other knee pulls in. 

Repeat this slowly for 4-6 reps, then pick up the pace for 8-10 more. 


Warming up for Dance Auditions, Mentally: 

Warming up for dance mentally is especially important for auditions. 

There is so much chaos around you in a holding room, getting centered is incredibly important. 


A mental warm up also gives you the opportunity to tune into your body and make sure you have enough layers on to stay warm passively. 

This might mean throwing and extra sweatshirt in your dance bag, just in case the wait is long. But maintaining the heat you generated in your warm up will only help you in your audition. 


So, what’s a mental warm up?

A mental warm up centers your mind on the task you are about to do. It strengthens your mind body connection and preps your muscles and nerves for the quick communication that is about to be demanded of them. This, in turn, reduces the stress and anxiety often assicated with performance.  


Sound like that might benefit someone who’s warming up to dance in an audition or show?

warming up for dance mentally






Let’s try it.

This guided mental warm up recommends that you stand- but you can easily do this sitting with a long spine, attention focused on where your sits bones connect with the floor if preferred. 


So, put on some head phones in, and let’s try it. 


Stand tall with soft knees and your feet shoulders width apart. Breathe through your nose and inhale, filling first the lower part of your lungs, then the middle part, and, finally, the upper part. Hold the breath for a few seconds and exhale slowly, relaxing your abdomen and chest. 


Take another deep breath through your nose and inhale, again filling first the lower part of your lungs, then the middle part, and, finally, the upper part. As before, hold the breath for a few seconds and exhale slowly, relaxing your abdomen and chest.


 Resume breathing normally. (You can use deep breathing to calm yourself as needed.)


Now take a moment to get a clear mental picture of the main thing you want to accomplish in your audition (or show).  Close your eyes as you think about something that is within your control. 


What do you see in this mental picture of what you want to accomplish? 


Do you notice any sensations in your body? 


How do your muscles feel? 


What sounds do you hear? 


Make the mental picture as clear and vivid a possible.


Okay. Now, let the mental picture fade and focus again on your breathing. 

Stand tall with your knees soft and your feet shoulders width apart.


 Breathe through your nose and inhale, filling first the lower part of your lungs, then the middle part, and, finally, the upper part. Hold the breath for a few seconds and exhale slowly, relaxing your abdomen and chest.


Now bring back the mental picture of what is in your control to accomplish in this audition (or show). 


 As the clear and vivid mental picture of what you hope to accomplish reappears, what do you see? 


What sensations do you notice in your body? 


How do your muscles feel? 


What sounds do you hear? 


Allow yourself to fully experience this mental pictur and  fill yourself with the belief that you can make it happen today.


Let the mental picture fade once again.


 Imagine a warm glow forming in your stomach, right in your core. 


This warm glow is full of energy and is slowly starts to spread throughout your body.


As the energy spreads, jump up and land with both feet. (or, if sitting, roll through your spine.)


Shake out your arms and feel the energy starting to surge from inside you. Feel the energy launch you into the air again, land, and shake out your arms.


Keep that feeling of energy and, as you do, bring back the mental picture of the main thing you hope to accomplish today one final time.


 Check your energy level. 


Use the warm glow of energy in your body to raise your energy level or your breathing to find the level of energy you need and get yourself ready to perform. 


You have the appropriate level of energy, you know what you want to accomplish, you believe you can accomplish it, and you are ready to do it. On the count of three, we will clap our hands (or tap your thighs, or inhale and exhale) three times and go do it.


A mental warm up like this can be recorded in your voice memos and played over your head phones, or simply meditated on daily! Why limit yourself to pre-performance success if the same can be applied to workouts and other tasks?


Most importantly, I leave you armed not only with the tools for warming up for dance the right way. But I also leave you with a guide for those days when you’re not feeling up for creating something of your own. 

Let us know if you try it.  We love hearing about your wins!

Core Strength

Are Crunches Killing Your Core? The Core Strength Secret

“Okay class, let’s warm up! Everyone on your backs!”

You hear your dance instructor command and, like an army, everyone assumes the position: Knees bent, feet flat, hands behind the head.

It doesn’t *really* matter the song, you can guess the core strength combination.

8 crunches with your feet flat.

8 crunches with your knees bent, but feet in the air.

8 crunches with one leg on the floor, one leg straight in the air.

8 more, but on the other leg.

Ope, 8 crunches with both legs straight up to the ceiling.

And… crunches in a straddle position.

Roll to your right side… crunch, crunch, crunch…

Roll to your left side… crunch, crunch, crunch…

And now you’re halfway through the song which means you get to start the sequence from the beginning.

Except now your abs are starting to burn… and your hip flexors are starting to tighten up… and your neck is beginning to ache…

The range of motion with each crunch diminishes… the pain increases.

But it’s good right? The ‘burn’ means your core is getting engaged and when you stand up, you’ll be on your center and ready to dance.


Well, probably not.

Here’s the problem:

Crunches have long been considered a staple exercise for core strength. However, for dancers, this may not be the case. While a strong core is undoubtedly essential for dance performance, relying solely on crunches to develop it may not be the best approach. In this blog post, we will explore why crunches may not be beneficial for dancers as a core strengthening exercise.


Crunches primarily target the rectus abdominis muscle, commonly known as the six-pack muscle. While this muscle is undoubtedly essential for a core strength, dancers require a more well-rounded approach to core training.

Dance movements require dynamic stability, which involves the activation of multiple muscle groups, including the deep core stabilizers, obliques, and lower back muscles. Focusing solely on the rectus abdominis may lead to muscle imbalances, resulting in a decreased range of motion and potential injury.


The repetitive flexion of the spine in crunches may be harmful to dancers. Many dance movements involve spinal extension, such as backbends and arabesques.

Repeatedly flexing the spine in the same plane of motion may lead to a reduction in spinal mobility and flexibility, making it challenging to perform these movements with ease and grace. Moreover, dancers who already have a hypermobile spine may be more prone to injury due to the repetitive motion of crunches.


Another issue with crunches is that they place a significant amount of stress on the hip flexors. When performing a crunch, the hip flexors are responsible for lifting the torso off the ground.

Dancers who spend a significant amount of time in a hip flexed position, such as during pliés and développés, may already have tight hip flexors. The additional stress of crunches may exacerbate this tightness, leading to potential injury and decreased range of motion.


Crunches may not be the most effective exercise for developing a core strength. While they may be beneficial for beginners, dancers who have been training for some time may require more challenging exercises to continue progressing.

Here’s the Solution:

Exercises such as planks, side planks, and dynamic exercises provide a more comprehensive approach to core strengthening. These exercises target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, promoting dynamic stability, flexibility, and endurance.

In conclusion, while crunches may be a useful exercise for some individuals, they may not be the best approach to improve core strength in dancers. Dance movements require dynamic stability, spinal mobility, and flexibility, which may not be effectively targeted by crunches.

Additionally, the potential risks of developing muscle imbalances and exacerbating hip flexor tightness make it worthwhile to explore alternative exercises. Dancers should consider incorporating a variety of exercises, including planks, side planks, and anatomically-driven exercises, to develop a strong and well-rounded core.

So, did we convince you to try some other core exercises?

Do you have more questions? Check out this post for answers to our nine most asked Core Strength questions.

Want some examples of ab workouts that are sure to improve your core strength? Give these links a look!

Dead Bug Exercises: Variations for a Stable Core

Lift Your Leg Without Gripping!

The L-Sit Bridge

Set Yourself For Strong Inversions

5 Unique Core Strength Moves for Dancers

Try These Core Strength Moves instead of Crunches

strength training for dancers

The Do’s and Don’ts of Strength Training for Dancers

Strength training for dancers has been a widely debated topic for decades now. And while the question,

“Is strength training good for dancers”

seems like a no brainer to us here at Dancers Who Lift,  it’s still worth answering every time it’s asked. 

Because, YES! 

Strength training for dancers is an incredible way to resolve muscular imbalances in the body, build endurance, and increase mobility and range of motion. 

However, because there has been a lot of misinformation about what strength training for dancers should look like, it can be challenging to get started. 

But never fear! 

Dancers Who Lift is here with a list of six do’s and don’ts of strength training for dancers!



Perform exercises that look and feel “like dance”. One of the most common things we see when dancers start to weight train are exercises that look like dance, but just add weights. 

Maybe it’s ankle weights on your degágés and téndus. Or maybe it’s doing a shoulder press on a bosu ball while standing in passé or Arabesque. 

Unfortunately, while these exercises are incredible feats of strength, they aren’t the best way for you to build strength. 

According to the National Library of Medicine Cross-training is defined as the use of multiple modes of training to enhance performance in one particular sport.

This means order for cross training to be effective, it needs to work you out differently than dance does.Otherwise you’re putting yourself at risk for an overuse injury.   



Perform both compound and isolation strengthening exercises. Weightlifting for dancers has endless benefits. 

From increased mobility to preventing injury, and yes acheiving physique goals. Weightlifting is the perfect cross training tool for dancers.


However, starting your strength training journey can feel a little bit overwhelming. So, one plance we always tell our dancers to begin is with the basics. 

Learning how to do these five functional strength training moves will not only jumpstart your training, but will give you the tools to build an effective strength workout – immediately. 



Skip your rest days. And no, yoga class is not rest. A short jog is not rest.

I cannot say this enough:  If you are taking a rest day. JUST REST!

Resting will actually get you further along in your fitness journey than you can ever imagine. 


Why? Because resting gives your muscles time to recover and rebuild and that is when strengthening occurs. Infact, rest days are a great way to train your body to recover more quickly. In fact, according to the Nation Library of Medicine, 

“Due to the symbiosis between sleep and recovery, it is clear from the current findings that athletes should have a detailed individualized and multifaceted recovery plan in place involving sleep, nutrition, hydration, and other physiological and psychological aspects (Sakkas). 

So, quit skipping rest day. You need it!



The best way to rest is to schedule it. Just like scheduling your workouts or dance clases, put your rest days in your calendar. 

Plan something restorative for your mind or emotional healthy that day like a walk through the park, a lunch with your friends, or an afternoon reading your favorite book.  

But remember, the more you do, the more you need to rest. Dancers are notorious for packing their weeks and then giving themselves one afternoon of rest. 

That’s not going to cut it. Strength training for dancers should occur somewhere between three and for times a week. And, In between those sessions, are dance classes and auditions. That’s a lot of stress for your body to manage. 


That means we need to be resting at LEAST one full day per week if not more. 


And listen, resting is not just about sitting around. There are tons of ways to promote recovery as busy dancers. 

So, next time you feel like your body might need a rest,  take it  knowing you are doing more good for your body than “pushing through it” ever could. 



Forget to fuel yourself for strength building. There is this awful myth that healthy snacks for dancers consist of small handfuls of nuts and protein bars. And while those things aren’t bad for you, they are not nearly enough fuel for what dancers demand of their bodies. 


Strength training for dancers, on top of training as a professional dancer, ups the ante for how much we need to consume. We are professional athletes, and it’s time we start eating like them. 


Free energy estimator - macro calculator for dancers




Eat proper amounts of nutrients to fuel your body to build muscles and stay energized. As dancers we are professional athletes. This means that we share the same dietary needs as a professional athlete. 


Strength training for dancers can only go so far without proper fuel! In order to build muscle we have to eat more protein and yes, more carbohydrates.


Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t get your brain in gear during a dance class or audition?

Do you ever feel like you can’t picking up choreography as quickly as usual?

Have you ever just felt lethargic after a long day of rehearsals?


All of these issues can be largely helped by simply consuming enough protein and carbs to adequately fuel your body. Dancers need to eat a balanced diet of protein, carbs and fats throughout their day in order to meet the demands of their job. 


And if they want to get stronger? Well, then they need to eat even more. You can’t level up without fuel. It’s as simple as that. 



Confuse quantity with quality. There is a long held belief that the longer you spend in the gym, the more work you’re doing. 


Unfortunately, this just isn’t true. 


Sure, you could spend an hour and half everyday in the gym and you’d see progress. But what if I told you that you could see the same amount of progress, and even more useful progress with a 45-minute workout?


This is because there is a distinct difference between training and working out


Training is specified, to your unique needs and goals. 

Working out is a general way to burn calories, increase heartrate, and increase aerobic capacity.

Longer is not better. Intentional and goal oriented is. 



Focus on specific, intentional training to equalize imbalances, strengthen muscles, and increase endurance. 


Strength training for dancers can be incredibly specific. We even created an entire workout dedicated to improving your pirouettes. Imagine how much your dance technique could be transformed by increasing the strength and power at your end range of motion? Hello sky high extensions and soaring leaps!


So stop lifting just for the sake of lifting and start training for your specific dance goals. 


Need some inspiration? Here are 20 conditioning workouts for dancers!



Set unrealistic expectations and goals. Dancers tend to have an all or nothing mindset. That’s why strength training for dancers can be so challenging. 


We often feel like, if we have to do a modification or if we can’t complete a workout, that the workout isn’t as good as if we could do the workout full out or to completion. 


But the truth is, imperfect action is ALWAYS better than perfect inaction.

In fact, imperfect action adds up overtime to that magic word we all strive for: *consistency.*



Remain consistent despite setbacks. The more often you show up for yourself, the stronger you will become both mentally and physically.


Strength training for dancers is as much a mental reset as it as a physical one. Strength training takes time and consistency in both physical action and nutritional consumption and mental fortitude. 


You’re on tour and the hotel doesn’t have a gym? That’s okay. Strength training can be done anywhere.

You don’t financial access to a gym with equipment? That’s okay! Bodyweight training is still an effective tool of strength training for dancers. 


There will always be an excuse. But dedication will always win over motivation. So, unless your body is asking for rest. Choose to show up for yourself day after day in this fitness pursuit.



Do it on your own. 

Strength training for dancers is still a relatively new idea in the dance world. What does that yield? A lot of misinformation about what it is and how to do it. 


Think of it like dance. 

You could teach yourself ballet via youtube videos and online articles. But your technique will improve and grow much faster if you work with a ballet teacher privately or in a class. 


The same is true with strength training. 

You can do it on your own. But your progress will move so much faster if you have someone to guide you through it.  



Find a community that can support you in your journey. It’s scientifically proven that having accountability helps athletes reach their goals. 

Not able to afford personal training? That’s okay!

There are tons of low-cost or free opportunities to strength train. Dancers Who Lift has tons of free tools, from the 5-day turn course, to the Mindset Reset, to the Energy Estimator. 

And that doesn’t even mention the Dancers Who Lift Blog that’s chock of work outs, nutrition tips, and even mental health guides for professional dancers. 

Strength training for dancers is so beneficial. I hope this list of dos and don’ts has helped you sort out a road map of success for your goals! 


Let us know how your journey is going in the comments or give us a follow @dancerswholift on instagram and Tiktok. And if you find that you do want to work with a trainer, check out our Embodied Artist or Body Mechanics programs. We’d love to be a part of your community.

How to become a better dancer

How to Become a Better Dancer: 6 Secrets for Leveling Up Your Technique

When I was in college a professor  whose job it was to teach me how to become a dancer told a horrifying, yet true limerick: 

“Somewhere there is someone working harder and longer than you and when they meet you they will beat you.” 

And while this might send any over-achiever into a “hard-work-spiral,” It’s not untrue.  Anyone pursuing a professional dance career has been to an audition and thought 

“Wow, everyone is so good.”  

Which is often quickly followed by, 

“I need to get my booty to class!”

And while it is true that class time for a professional dancer never ends. There is a lot more to becoming a better dancer than just going to class. 

Free 5 Day Turn Course dance workout


First of all:

It’s important that we define what “better” is. Are you wanting to be better at a specific style? Are you wanting more control? Or are you just feeling “blah” in class and hoping to sharpen up your skills overall? For our purposes, let’s define “better” as leveling up your technique. 

Because at the end of the day having more power, more control, and more agility will improve your dance technique in any style of dance you want to pursue. 

Sound good to you? Good.

Learn how to become a better dancer by following these six steps:

First way to learn how to become a better dancerActually Warm Up

Let me guess, the first thing you do when warming-up for class or an audition is drop into a deep second position plié, hands on you knees and you alternate dropping your shoulders forward and back to get a great stretch. 

Did I get it right?

Well, what if I told you that while this feels great, it actually isn’t helping prepare your body to dance at all. In fact, static stretching of the lower limbs has been shown to negatively impact explosive movement performance for up to 24 hours poststretching! What does that mean? It means that sitting in a split or hanging out in a frog before auditions is actually impeding your performance when it comes to jumps and power. Now, I know how it feels to have tight hips and thighs before an audition, but dynamic stretches (stretches that move in and out of a position) can loosen you up just as well, while simultaneously warming up your body.

So what does a good warm-up look like?

A good warm up should increase heart-rate and blood flow so that more oxygen can be moved to the muscles. This will activate the connection between your nerves and muscles which will improve your efficiency of movement. In fact, this study showed that a well created warm up could improve performance in 79% of criterions examined! 

Now, if you’re focusing on how to become a better dancer I know you are an over achiever. So let me emphasize this: a warmup should not exhaust you. But a warm-up should raise your heart rate and *maybe* even get you sweating a bit. This can be accomplished by performing a few compound bodyweight exercises like air squats, push-ups, hollow holds, cossack squats, and dynamic stretches. 

If you’re still struggling with tightness in certain areas, foam roll. Studies have shown that foam rolling can help loosen muscles without the adverse affects seen  in static stretching.


Contrary to what you may have been taught, weightlifting is an incredible cross training tool for dancers. In fact, I’m willing to promise you that weightlifting is absolutely the key to how to become a better dancer. At dancers who lift we’ve seen dancers go from “not being a turner” to whipping out triples in class without even thinking about it. We’ve seen extensions get higher, and control increase exponentially. 

But more than anything, dancers who start a weight training program report higher levels of confidence in class, in auditions, and on stage. Confidence is the number one thing that will set you apart from other dancers. Because you will no longer be worrying about landing that jump, controlling that battement, or completing that turn. Instead, your mind will be free to enjoy the movement. To show everyone in the room why you do this in the first place. 

threeDynamic Stretching

Like me, you may have been taught that it takes 30 seconds for your muscles to fully relax into a stretch. This information lead to years of sitting in stretches for 30 seconds, taking a deep inhale, then relaxing deeper into the stretch on the exhale. And repeating every 30 seconds for about two minutes. While this is a good way to work on the flexibility of your muscles. It’s actually not an effective way to increase your mobility and can actually be detrimental to your performance if used during a warm up as it limits your power. 

Instead, we recommend dynamic stretching.

Dynamic stretching has been shown to improve speed, agility, and acceleration. This is because it requires that you actively tighten your muscles and move your joints through their full range of motion while you stretch. 

Think about it. When you’re doing a Battement or a Firebird, your muscles and joints are not relaxed in a stretched position. No. They are actively working through a range of motion. Dynamic stretching works through a muscle or joints full range of motion, strengthening the end points to ultimately increase the range of motion. You want to learn how to become a better dancer? Start using dynamic stretches consistently.

Some examples of dynamic stretches are: hip windshield wipers, hip lift offs, low lunge rocks, squat twist and reaches, arms circles, leg swings, and so many more. 

Looking for some mobility flows?

Scroll through the Dancers Who Lift Instagram Reels and follow along!

Fourth way of how to become a better dancer Fuel Yourself

This one is a biggie. I see dancers online bragging about their Cold brew and granola bar before an audition or rehearsal and I think, 

“No. Gorgeous, gorgeous, dancers eat a balanced snack before they dance!”

Have you ever been in audition or rehearsal and felt like you couldn’t retain the combo or pick it up as well as usual? That’s likely because you hadn’t consumed enough protein beforehand. 

Ever felt like, despite taking four dance classes a week three HIIT classes, and walking all over the city you were getting exhausted by the end of a 20 minute audition? That’s likely because you aren’t consuming enough carbohydrates in your diet. 

Ever felt like that last hour of rehearsal was ten times slower than the rest of the day? You probably needed a little more fat to carry you through. 

The reality is, dancers are athletes and we need to fuel our bodies accordingly. Because of how active we are, both in and out of the studio, it is incredibly necessary that we consume a balanced diet of protein, fats, and yes, carbs. 

I promise you, once you start eating enough. You’ll see massive improvements in your dance technique.


I already know you are rolling your eyes. But the fact of the matter is, watching two hours of TV at the end of your day is absolutely not enough rest for you to become a better dancer. One of the most important ways you can work toward improving your dance technique is giving your body enough time to recover and get stronger between classes, workouts, and auditions. 

Constant exercise, and that includes walking all over town, does not give our body enough time to rebuild between training sessions and rehearsals. And what happens when we don’t have enough time to recover? We fatigue faster, our precision and control lags, and our risk for injury increases exponentially. 

As dancers we put our bodies through insane amounts of stress; mentally, physically, and emotionally. Every day we push our minds and bodies to the limit and on top of that we are striving to achieve our dreams. Without rest, that stress can wreak havoc on our bodies leading to lack of choreographic retention and lazy technique. 

So, want your technique to be insanely consistent? REST. 


You want to know how to become a better dancer? Be consistent. If there is anything you take away from this entire blog let it be this. Small consistent steps toward a goal will always better than inconsistent leaps.

Whether you are trying to get stronger, improve your mobility, or balance your diet, consistency is the key to your success.

And the best thing about consistency is, you don’t have to do everything all at once. Maybe you start by committing to doing fifteen minutes of dynamic stretching every other day. Then, as that becomes consistent, you add in eating one extra serving of protein each day. Then after that maybe you start lifting weights two times per week–even one time per week–until you get the hang of it. 

Maybe you’re doing everything on this list. Maybe where you want to gain consistency is showing up once a week to a technique class. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to start!

Consistency does not have to be perfect. It just has to be consistent. 

So, where do you think you’ll start today? Let us know which of these helped you learn how to become a better dancer in the comments or on our instagram @Dancerswholift!

How to do a proper deadlift

How to Do a Proper Deadlift: The Ultimate Guide for Dancers

Learning how to do a proper deadlift is not as intimidating as it may seem. Unfortunately, most of the videos you’ll find in a google search feature powerlifters and other gym rat types which can make you wonder, should dancers really learn how to do a proper deadlift? None of these athletes look like us.”  


The answer is, YES! 



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Dancers should absolutely learn how to do a proper deadlift. 

Deadlifts have been scientifically proven to build power (Hello, grande allegro)! Deadlifts also strengthen the posterior chain which greatly contributes to core strength, injury prevention, and facilitates coordination of your limbs! Sound like anything a dancer might need? We thought so too.


So, what makes learning how to do a proper deadlift so challenging?


One of the early challenges when learning how to do a proper deadlift is understanding how a deadlift differs from a squat. At first glance these two exercises look similarly. But on further inspection you’ll learn that a squat (like a plié) moves on the vertical (up and down) plane while a deadlift works in the horizontal plane


A deadlift, is what fitness professionals call a “hinge” movement. A hinge movement is a functional movement meaning, it helps us perform daily tasks like picking up a heavy box from the floor. A hinge movement happens by hinging your hips backwards until your torso reaches a tabletop position. In contract, a Squat movement happens by bending your knees and moving your hips straight down while maintaining an upright spine. 


If you’re having trouble getting the hang of this hinge movement, try setting your deadlift form up in front of a wall. Take two steps from the wall. Then, keeping your shins perpendicular to the floor, hinge your hips backward until they gently touch the wall.  Want more information about how not to “squat your deadlifts?” Check out this form video



One of the most common challenges for dancers as they learn how to do a proper deadlift is the temptation to do a flat back


Yes, you are flexible enough. 


Yes, you might be able to do it with a lighter weight. 


But is it a deadlift? No. 


Is it dangerous for your back and hamstrings? Yes. 


So how do you do a proper deadlift?  Let’s break it down.


Start by setting up your weight. 


If this is your first time deadlifting, I recommend starting with a lighter weight until you get the form locked in. Once you’ve chosen your weight, set your weight up so that the bar is about two inches in front of your shins. 


Next, set up your stance.

Your feet should be about hip width apart, toes in a neutral position. 



Next, you’re going to hinge your hips backwards until your torso hits a tabletop position. From here, gently bend your knees until they kiss the weight.



Grab the bar just outside of your legs, and lift your focus straight ahead, elongating your chest forward. Do not arch your spine. Instead, Brace your spine as if you are doing a hollow hold. Remember when your dance teacher used to say “show off that diamond necklace” when she needed you to open your chest? This is a similar feeling. 



Inhale, and on the exhale, press into your feet as you push your hips back to neutral. Try your best not to hyper extend in your hips at the end. We don’t need any extra tucks or pushes at the top of your lift!


Lower to Reset.

Slowly lower the weight by hinging the hips backward, keeping the shins parallel to the floor. Remember, your shins should be kissing the weight on it’s way down, just as it did on the way up! Let the weight touch the floor and release the spine. Lastly, re-brace the spine, for the next rep and repeat.


And there you have it! You now know how to do a proper deadlift!


The best thing about deadlifts? Besides the many physical benefits of deadlifts, there are TONS of variations for deadlifts. And don’t worry, we have all the deets on common mistakes, form videos, and tips for each of these variations. Such as:


Common RDL mistakes to Avoid


How-to B-stance Deadlift


Tips for Kettlebell Deadlifts

So no matter where your deadlifting journey takes you, Dancers Who Lift has you covered. Want a little more guidance? Check out our 1:1 training program and get all the guidance you need

at home core exercises

7 Epic At Home Core Exercises (That Aren’t Crunches!)

Dancers are constantly told that they need to have a strong core. Core strength is about so much more than rippling abs – especially for dancers. Weak core muscles can not only cause problems in your technique, but they can lead to lower endurance and even injury


Yet, due to our jobs, we don’t always have access to a gym. That’s why having an arsenal of at home core exercises can definitely come in handy. But I’d be willing to guess, my core exercises and your core exercises look a little different. 


You see, dancers across the country have been doing the some variation of the same crunch combination since the dinosaurs walked the earth. You know the combo: center crunch, single-leg-crunch, switch, lift-both-knees-to-90-crunch, both-legs-straight-up-crunch, straddle-crunch, side-crunch, switch, static plank, collapse. 


More and more evidence is coming out that crunches are not the be-all-end-all for core strengthening. In fact, crunches only target a very small portion of your core and can create lower back pain


So where does that leave your list of at home core exercises? Looking a little thin? That’s okay! I have compiled a list of seven at home core exercises that will take your core training up a notch!



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Dynamic Planks

A dynamic plank is a plank that is not static. In other words, you’re doing more than just “holding” the plank. Dynamic planks are a fantastic at home core exercise because, first, they are equipment free and, second, they engage more than your abs. Dynamic planks engage both your superficial and deep abdominals, but they also fire your glutes, obliques, shoulder girdle and hips, for stability. 


Good examples of dynamic planks are: around the world planks, plank pull throughs, up-down planks, RKC planks, and side planks with flexion. Want some other plank variations? Try out these five core moves for a dynamic core workout. 

Bird Dogs

Bird dogs are a Dancers Who Lift favorite. Why? Because Bird Dogs train your body to maintain a neutral and stable spine while your limbs work seperately. These exercises are particularly great as a part of your pre-show warm up. You can do them anywhere and they get your whole body engaged and focused. 



We here at Dancers Who Lift LOVE the bird dog. It’s. Great dynamic, functional core exercise. So often as dancers, we fall into the trap of static core training, such as planks for time. And while this might *feel* really effective, ultimately when we’re dancing, we need to be able to engage our core as we’re moving! The bird dog is an optimal exercise for training contralateral movement— while maintaining postural alignment! Additionally, this movement works for hamstrings, the glutes, the rectus abdominous, the obliques, the spinal extensors, the lots and the posterior shoulder musculature ! So it’s a lot of bang for your buck ! It can also be easily progressed or request, depending on the dancers strength and ability. 👉A regression (easier) might look like just moving one limb, or not having the limbs leave the floor 👉 a progression (harder) might look like maintaining a hovering quadruped position, or even working in a full plank position, or potentially holding weights in the hands. If you want to learn more great movements like this, and how they can apply to one’s dancing, join our free ab challenge for dancers ! Link is in my bio! #Dancerswholift #shelifts #mobilitywod #movementitmedicine #strongnotskinny #fitness #dance #nycdancer #abs #selfcare

♬ original sound – dancerswholift


Dead Bugs

Another DWL staple and wonderful at home core exercise is the dead bug. Dead bugs are fantastic at working your deep core muscles, preventing back pain, and promoting strong spinal stability. The best part? There are TONS of variations on the dead bug so no matter what your mood, you can choose the variation that works best for your needs. 


Reverse Crunches

Reverse crunches are sneaky hard. But, for this exercise, you will need to find something stable to hold onto while you’re lying on the floor; this could be a couch or bed frame, something that wont move as you do these. Once you’ve found it, lay down and grab hold of it with your arms above your head and get started. Ready to level up your reverse crunches? Try out coach Ariel’s Dragon Flag reverse crunch here

L-Sit to Bridge

Okay, this little combo will have you SWEATING. Add this at home core exercise to your pre-show ritual and you will be warm and ready! Start in an L-Sit, hovering your booty just above thr ground. Then, push your hips up toward the sky until your body is in a table top position. Finally, return to the L-sit starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat. Want a visual for the form? Click here. 



I know, I know. But before you yell at me that push-ups aren’t a core exercise, take a moment and think about good push-up form. Yes, that’s right, good push-up form is basically a plank. Therefore, is a push-up not a type of dynamic plank? Push-ups are a true full body exercise and they will do wonders for your core strength when done correctly. The key to making push-ups a part of a dynamic core workout, is ensuring that you are mastering your form before you progress to the next level. Not sure what that looks like? Give this form break down a quick scan. 


Hollow Holds

Finally, we get to hollow holds. Hollow holds are fantastic for targeting your deep core muscles. Hollow holds work against back pain, increase pelvic floor strength, and will do wonders for your front extensions! Hollow holds also have tons of variations like hollow holds with flexion, banana rolls, supermans, and hollow hold rocks. 

So, which of these core exercises will you add to your workout? Pick a couple and let us know how it goes! Want us to check your form? Tag us in a video on instagram @dancerswholift. We’d love to give it a look!