circuit workout

Workout Wednesday: A Circuit Workout

A circuit workout is a great way to simultaneously build strength and increase your cardiorespiratory fitness.

Circuit workouts are also a great way to pack a lot into one workout as they call for less rest time as you move through your exercises. 

Today we have a killer circuit workout for you. Five exercises, completely scalable, with a 60 second rest time between circuits. 

Grab a water bottle and a towel; this one is bound to be sweaty!

Today’s Circuit Workout

 

 

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Pull-ups x10

We are starting this circuit workout off strong with pull-ups.

You can perform these with a band for assistance or use a pull-up machine that offers assistance- whatever is the best option for where you are in your pull-up journey. 

You can perform these with a traditional grip, or, bring your elbows forward and parallel with one another to perform neutral grip pull ups. The choice is completely up to you. 

Engage your core, activate your lats, and with control, perform 10 pull-ups. 

*After your reps, immediately move on to the next exercise.*

 Reverse Lunges x12/side

Grab yourself a challenging weight (either one dumbbell in each hand or a kettlebell in a goblet hold).

Stand with your feet hip width apart. 

Lengthen your spine and brace your core. 

Then, step backward into a lunge. 

To return to standing, drive through your front heel and bring the feet together. 

Switch legs. 

Continue switching until you’ve performed 12 reps per side. 

*Once reps are completed, immediately move on to the next exercise.*

Push-ups x15

Next up in our circuit workout is push-ups. Now, if you’ve always struggled with push-ups, and you often find yourself with very little range of motion, I want you to pause and read this form breakdown

Choose any of the modifications in the above form break down to accomplish these. 

And hey, if halfway through your set you need to make a modification, that’s okay! We want as solid form as possible through this circuit workout.

So choose something challenging but sustainable.

*Once you’ve completed 15 reps, immediately move on to the next exercise.*

Single-leg Hip Thrusts x20/side

We are almost done with our first circuit!

If you don’t have a bench handy, feel free to adapt this by doing single-leg bridges on the floor!

Lean against a bench or block so your sports bra line is on the edge of the bench/block. 

Legs should be around 90 degrees when tush is lifted and engaged. 

Focus your eyes on your belly button and brace your core, by knitting those ribs together. 

Lower your hips toward the ground and place a barbell or dumbbells on your hips. (Choose a challenging weight!) 

Lift one leg off the ground and without letting your hips tip, exhale and lift your hips toward the ceiling. Again, keep your focus on your belly button. 

Slowly lower your hips down, keeping your leg lifted.

During this exercise don’t let your hips tip from side to side!

*Perform 20 reps per side, then move on to the final exercise in the circuit.*

Stir the Pot Planks x8/side

You’ve heard of planks, but stir the pot planks bring them to a whole new level!

Put yourself in a plank position on your forearms. Ribcage and hip bones are pulling toward each other, tush is in line with shoulders and engaged, shoulders are pressing down and back.

Now, imagine your hip joint is cemented in this extended position. 

Using your lower abdominals, move your hips in an circle: right, forward, left, and up.

Careful not to arch your lower back or hinge in your hips on the “forward” and “up” portions of the circle!

Instead, think of contracting your lower abdominals to control your hips. And don’t let yourself sink into your shoulders as you get tired!

Each “circle” is one rep. 

*Perform 8 reps in each direction, then take a 60 second rest.*

 

Completing the Workout

To complete today’s circuit workout, perform anywhere between 3-5 rounds dependent on how much time you have. 

I guarantee you this workout will have you a bit wobbly the next day!

Besides, who doesn’t love a workout that gives you cardio benefits without technically doing cardio?!

 

 

Want more workouts? Follow us here for weekly workouts, training tips, and more!

But for now, here are a few reads we think you’ll want right now: Eight Ways to Promote Faster Recovery, No Gym, No Equipment, No BS: The Best Workouts for Dancers That Can Be Done Anywhere, Should I Be Sore After Every Workout?: The Surprising Truth Most Dancers Don’t Know

 

no-equipment workout

Workout Wednesday: The No-Equipment Workout

Listen, sometimes the weight room is absolutely packed. Other times, getting to the gym just isn’t happening. That’s why having a no-equipment workout in your back pocket is handy. 

Whether you’re finding a quiet corner in your gym or unrolling your yoga mat in your living room, this workout is sure to satisfy your need to move. (and you’ll probably get a little sweaty too!)

I must warn you though, just because this is a no-equipment workout does not mean that you’ll be slacking.

No, no. This workout packs quite a punch!

 

The No-Equipment Workout

 

Marching Glute Bridge  (20 reps)

First up in our no-equipment workout is the marching glute bridge!

To perform, lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. 

Take a deep breath to settle yourself, then brace your core by pulling your ribcage together and belly button to spine. Allow the natural curve of your back to maintain it’s position here. The idea is to support your spine, not flatten it!

Next, lift your hips toward the ceiling. Imagine your hips are lengthening toward your knees as you lift! Go as high as you can without arching your back. 

Now that you’re in your glute bridge, maintain that position as you lift one leg up so its shin is parallel to the ceiling. Without dropping your hips, bring that leg back down and repeat on the other side. 

The trick here is maintaining the isometric hold of your glute bridge while shifting the weight from one leg to the other. 

Work to keep your hips level (don’t let them flop to one side or the other!) and continue to contract those abs so your lower back doesn’t arch. 

**Repeat for 20 reps (10 on each leg) then move on to next exercise**

Spiderman Mountain Climbers (20 reps) 

Flip that body over! The next portion of our no-equipment workout requires that you get into a plank position with your weight on your hands. 

Once you’re in your plank position, check in. Is your core tight? Are you hips in line with your shoulders? Are you shoulders relaxed down and back instead of up by your ears?

Good. Now that we’re sorted, instead of pulling your knee to your chest like a traditional mountain climber, you’ll turn out your leg and pull one knee up toward your shoulder. (Imagine how Spiderman looks when he’s climbing up a building!)

Then repeat on the opposite leg!

As you get tired, try not to sink into your shoulders or let those hips float up to the ceiling. This exercise is tough but when practiced often it yields sky high lateral extensions!

**Repeat for 20 reps (10 per side) then move on to the next exercise**

 

 

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Skaters (20 reps)

Okay, time to get up onto your feet!

Start by standing with your feet together. 

Then, leap to the side onto one leg, letting the other leg cross behind (like a skater). 

Once you land, immediately leap to the other leg. 

Try to keep your chest up, letting your hips shift back as if you were sitting in a chair.

**Perform 20 reps total, then move on to the next exercise**

Hollow Hold (20 seconds)

Okay, we’ve reached the final exercise in our no-equipment workout. 

Lay back down on your mat with your arms extended above your head, parallel to your ears. Take a deep breath and, on the exhale,  brace your core.

From here, lift your arms up off the ground by lengthening them away from your core. 

Then, without letting your core release, do the same with your legs. 

Core should be scooping back and up, shoulders should be slightly lifted off the ground, and you should be staring at your belly button. 

**Hold this position for 20 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds before repeating the circuit.**

Not Done Yet!

To complete this workout you must complete 5 rounds of these no-equipment exercises. 

Between each round rest for only 30 seconds. 

Should you want to up the ante a bit, you can add resistance to this workout by:

Resting a weight on your hips during the glute bridge

Putting a resistance band around your feet during the Spiderman mountain climbers

Holding a weight in your hands during the hollow hold (though be careful that this does not put strain on your neck/shoulders!)

And there you have it. An efficient, heart racing, no-equipment workout made just for you. 

Will you try it?

 

Want more workouts, fitness tips, and other information dance athletes need to know? Check out these reads: Gym Myths and Misconceptions: The Dancer Edition, Making a Split Decision: Tips and Tricks on How to Get Your Splits, Training Tip Tuesday: Knee Hovers for Core Strengthening

 

breathing techniques for workouts

Training Tip Tuesday: Breathing Techniques for Workouts

There are lots of different breathing techniques for workouts. And while you can choose one and hop right into your workout, why not warm up your breath so you can breathe as efficiently as possible?

Yes, warming up your breath is a thing! Let me tell you why.

You probably know that we use our lungs to breathe but, unless you’re a singer, you might not know that a big part of how we breathe is a dome shaped muscle called the diaphragm.   

Contrary to what your voice teacher may have told you, you cannot “breathe with your diaphragm.” However, you can use your diaphragm to breathe. 

Let me explain.

Your lungs are sacks that fill with air, your diaphragm is a muscle that expands and contracts to create a vacuum in your chest, allowing more air to fill your lungs. 

The breathing techniques for workouts that we are covering today will help you locate and activate that muscle so you can intentionally control your air supply as you lift. 

Warming Up Your Breath

There are two ways we like to warm up our diaphragm for maximum breathing efficiency. 

The first uses the assistance of gravity.

Lay on your back with your feet on the ground, knees bent. 

Take a deep breath in, allowing your stomach to expand. (That expansion is your diaphragm dropping down to create space for more air!)

Once full, blow your air out as if you are blowing through a straw. You will feel your stomach tense and begin to contract as your blow the air out. 

No cheating! Make sure you fully expel all of your air before repeating! This will really get that diaphragm activated and ready to work for you during your workout.

The second warm up works against gravity.

For this breathing technique, get up on all fours, as if you’re about to do a birddog. 

Without arching your spine, take a deep breath in, allowing your stomach to expand down toward the floor. 

Again, as you exhale, pretend you are exhaling through a straw. You might find this a bit harder as your diaphragm is working against gravity to contract and expel the air out of your lungs. 

 

 

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Breathing Techniques for Workouts

Now that your warmed up, here’s our favorite breathing technique for workouts. Specifically, here’s how to breathe while lifting weights.

While power lifters and weight lifters might hold their breath during certain lifts, for the types of workouts we engage in we encourage you to breathe, and breathe a lot!

Our favorite breathing technique requires that you breathe in on the eccentric portion of your lift (when the muscle is lengthening) and exhale on the concentric portion of your lift (when the muscle is shortening). 

Another way to think about this is to exhale as you lift the weight, and inhale as you lower the weight. 

Why do we like this breathing technique for workouts?

Think back to our warm ups. When you exhaled, your core tightened, yes? This offers the body more stability and support during the lift. 

If you are unable to breathe while lifting, that might be sign that you need to go down in weight or evaluate your form.

 

Want to hear what Coach Kierstin has to say about breathing techniques for workouts? Check out this video where you can follow along with our breath warm-ups! 

 

Want more tips from Dancers Who Lift? Give these blog favorites a read: Making a Split Decision: Tips and Tricks on How to Get Your Splits, Let’s Talk About Stress, Ba-by! Stress Management For Dancers, Leaping For Joy: A Dancer’s Guide on How to Jump Higher

bear crawl workout, bear crawl, crawl workout, workout for dancers

Workout Wednesdays: The Bear Crawl Workout

Bear crawl workouts are a fantastic way to train your entire body at once.

Not only do bear crawls work your core, but they require you to utilize the full range of motion of your hips, shoulders and ankles. 

Bear crawl workouts also train your muscular endurance and they improve your coordination

Don’t be fooled by their simplicity, these workouts pack a punch.

So, ignore the fact that you feel like you’re back in 5th grade gym, get on your hands and knees, and let’s get started. 

The Bear Crawl Workout

To do this bear crawl workout, make sure you have plenty of space to crawl around in. The farther you have to crawl, the easier accomplishing this workout with good form will be. 

Now, get on all fours. 

Press into your hands, letting your shoulders roll down your back. 

Next, engage your core; closing your ribcage and pulling your belly button to spine. 

Finally, tuck your toes and lift your knees one inch off the ground. 

Don’t let your booty shoot up toward the ceiling! Instead, Imagine someone has rested a tea set on your back and you don’t want it to fall to the ground and shatter!

Now, maintaining this position crawl around the room in every direction (forward, backward, side to side) until you’ve reached 200 “steps.”

 

 

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Up the Ante

Doing 200 steps in a bear crawl position will certainly get your muscles and heart pumping. Especially if you remember to keep your core engaged the entire time. 

However, you might find that you want to do a little more.

If this is the case, take a two minute rest after your first round of 200 steps and then, begin again. 

Add as many sets as you like-but only do as many as you can maintain good form for. (Good form means that the knees don’t float up above that one inch hover, your back doesn’t start to sag toward the ground, and you don’t start to sink into your shoulders.)

I should warn you, doing more than 4 sets might lead to noodle arms and legs and a very sore core. 

It’s as simple as that! Who knew crawling around on the floor could be such a good workout?

And If you’re looking to make it even more challenging, try adding a resistance band above your knees!

 

Want more free workouts? Tune in every Wednesday to the Dancers Who Lift blog!

Don’t want to wait to get more fitness tips? Check out these blogs we know you’ll love: Are Crunches Killing Your Core? The Core Strength Secret, Building Power with Poise: Dumbbell & Band Workout for Dancers, The Pros and Cons of Creatine: Busting the Myths and Revealing the Facts

hammer curls, how to do a hammer curl

Training Tip Tuesday: Hammer Curls

Let’s talk hammer curls- a two for one upper body exercise!

As dancers, the upper body is seen as “less than” compared to our legs that do all the work. But in my opinion, the legs may seem to do all the work but the upper body is where the extension of the performance is!

 After all, why else would there be countless workouts on social media labeled as “Dancer Arms Workout.” And you best believe my ballet teacher growing up worked our port de bras to the bone at the barre.

And while a lot of us dancers love a leg day because it’s where we feel comfortable, working our arms in the gym is equally important. 

That’s why today’s training tip is all about how to perform hammer curls. 

 

Now, hammer curls are a bit different than your traditional bicep curl.

Due to its varied grip, the hammer curl works not only the  “biceps brachii but the brachioradialis as well.”

These muscle is helpful in assisting elbow joint and wrist movements, such as lifting and carrying any object or pushing/pulling objects.

So, needless to say, hammer curls are helpful for everyday motions.

If you start adding hammer curls into your routine, you help increase wrist stability and improve grip strength. (Can you say stable inversions and deadlift PRs?)

 

Let’s breakdown Hammer Curls, shall we?   

Start by standing with your legs straight, hips and knees aligned , keeping a tiny bend in your knees. Your arms should start down by your side with a dumbbell in each hand and palms facing inward (like you’re holding a hammer).

Slowly roll those shoulders down away from your ears and keep them relaxed.

Then bend at the elbows and lift the lower arms slowly pulling the weight to your shoulders. Make sure only your forearm is moving by ensuring your elbows remain directly by your sides.

Once you hit the top of the movement (usually a little bit above 90) hold for a one second pause. Again, keeping your palms facing in toward the midline of the body.

Finally, slowly lower the weights to return to the starting position. Again, keep those elbows in place. Don’t let them drift forward to assist you. 

Want a clear visual? 

Check out this video to see Coach Mel in action!

Take inventory of how this grip makes your bicep lift feel different. Likely, you’ll be sore in a few new places tomorrow or the next day, but don’t worry, that’s just a D.O.M.s. Overtime your body will adjust to the new grip and you’ll be moving back up in weight in no time!

 

Have questions? Drop them in the comments or shoot us a DM @dancerswholift on Instagram and Tiktok. 

Want more tips like this? Here are a few we think you might like: Making a Split Decision: Tips and Tricks on How to Get Your Splits, Leg Day: Perform At Your Own Risk, Practicing Emotional Self Care: Common Mistakes High Performance Humans Make

run walk method

The Run Walk Method: An Ever-Evolving Workout

A lot of dancers believe the age old myth that running isn’t good for them. However, science shows that running actually has a lot of benefits for dancers. This leaves a lot of dancers beginning their running journey late in life. Enter, the run walk method.

The run walk method was started by former olympian, Jeff Galloway in the early 70s. He was teaching a class to beginner runners and realized that he needed to create a method that would allow these athletes to increase their cardio stamina, protect them from injury, and aide them in quicker recovery between runs.  So, he introduced the run walk method. 

What is the Run Walk Method?

The run walk method is a form of interval training in which runners take timed intervals of walking breaks throughout their run. 

Now, I know dancers.

I know that we like to say “Eh, I don’t need a break” and keep pushing to prove we are as athletically strong as any other athlete. However, science shows that utilizing the run walk method does not reduce the load on the cardiovascular system, but it does reduce muscle discomfort and fatigue. This allows non-elite runners to finish their runs with similar times with less discomfort.  

That’s right. Using the run walk method might not even impact your run time by much and it’s easier on your joints and muscles, meaning a faster recovery time.

So, How Do I Do the Run Walk Method?

Where you start with the run walk method will largely depend on the individual.

To determine your intervals you have three choices: time, heart-rate, distance. 

For people new to running, we recommend using time because of it’s simplicity.

For example, run for one minute, walk for four and continue until you complete your run. 

 

If you prefer the heart-rate method you’d run until your heart rate reaches 80% capacity (or until you barely start huffing and puffing) then walk until your hear rate reaches 60% capacity (breathing heavy but easily). 

It’s important in either of these methods that you don’t push your pace too fast too soon. It’s tempting, but ultimately will negate the benefits of a quick recovery. 

Patience is the key here. 

Today’s Workout:

For today’s workout we are going to use time to determine our intervals as that’s the easiest benchmark to track and it is adjustable.

First, choose either a distance you’d like to run today or and interval of time for which you’d like to run. 

Have you made your choice?

Next, use an interval timer on your phone to set these intervals: 

Run one minute, walk for four. 

If this interval is too easy, feel free to either shorten the walk time or lengthen the run time. You can even do both!

(Though we recommend starting with small adjustments!)

Once you’ve completed your run, check in with yourself. How do you feel? Was running that distance easier than usual? 

If you ran for time, did you run farther than usual?

Tomorrow, be mindful of how your body feels. Chances are you’ll notice less muscle fatigue than you’re used to after a day of running!

The Best Part

The best thing about the run walk method is that each time you run you can progress by lengthening the amount of time you run before you take your walking interval. Jeffrey Galloway says this is his clients’ favorite aspect of utilizing this method of training – seeing their progress week to week as their muscles and joints get stronger. 

So what do you think? Will you try this method on your next run? If you do, let us know how you felt! Were you able to run farther than usual! We’d love to celebrate a break through in your fitness goals!

 

Want more workouts? Check out the blog every Wednesday!

 

Until then, here are a few resources we think you’ll enjoy: The Stair Down: An Adjustable Stair Workout, Should Dancers Run? The Surprising Health Benefits of Running, Explained, Eight Ways to Promote Faster Recovery