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 Track Macros - Dancers Who Lift Blog

How to Track Macros Like a Pro

Learning how to track macros for the first time can feel like a lot.

Keeping track of how much you’re eating, what you’re eating, and even remembering to track can be a struggle until you get used to it. But what if we approached macro tracking like any other habit? What if instead of shooting for 100% success every single day, we set achievable goals that we could build into sustainable habits?

The best part about understanding what we are eating and why, is gaining the freedom to make informed decisions about how we are fueling our bodies. Now, if you’ve just started with Dancers Who Lift, you likely have either worked with your coach or the DWL Bible and calculated a calorie goal and macro split.

Wait a minute, go back and read those last few words again– “calorie GOAL”. This is a goal for you to hit every day.

Perfection can be paralyzing, instead, let’s shoot for consistency.

You wouldn’t learn how to pirouette without first learning how to plié and relevé. Similarly, breaking down how to track macros into baby steps can help us consistently hit our goals. So let me take you through the basics of tracking your macros and we’ll have you landing “triples” in no time. 

Free energy estimator - macro calculator for dancers


The first thing we want to focus on is our protein intake.

The first week or two of tracking your macros, I want you to ignore everything in your tracker except your protein intake. We want to ensure you get the protein you need to fuel your brain and rebuild your muscles between workouts.

Think of your body as a high rise. Protein is the cement that forms the foundation of that 50-story complex. It’s also the floors and ceilings and maybe even part of the architectural features of the apartments. It’s not the only thing that makes up the building. But it’s one of the largest components and, without a high enough daily intake, your building can start to sway too much when the winds pick up. 

Consistently hitting your protein goal is so important that we want you to focus on only that until it becomes second nature. Need top tips for  getting extra protein in? Check out this list of quick and easy protein snacks!


How to Track Macros


Now, let’s talk calories.

One of the more challenging aspects of learning how to track macros is incorporating your calorie goal. Once you’re hitting your protein goals consistently, the next thing to focus on is hitting your calorie goal while maintaining your protein intake. At first, this might feel challenging. But I promise once you get the hang of it. You’re going to love how it feels to hit the gym less sore, experience less brain fog, and be satiated after your meals. You might even find that when you’re hitting your protein goal and calorie goal, your other macros start to get closer to their respective goals as well!


Next up, carbohydrates!

After you’ve been able to hit your calorie goal consistently while maintaining your protein consumption, start focusing on your carbohydrates. These little buggers are sneaky because carbs are in so much of the food we consume–and that’s good! Carbs are our body’s main source of energy.

Remember that building of our body? If protein is the cement, carbs are the metal rods that drill into the foundation, support the walls, and make up the window frames and doors. We want to ensure that we are eating plenty of carbs each day.

The important thing is ensuring each day you are getting as close to your calorie goal as possible while maintaining your protein and carbohydrate consumption. 


The last piece of the puzzle is fat.

Now that you’re consistently hitting your calorie goal while maintaining your protein and carbohydrate goals, zero in on your fats. In the building of our bodies, fats are the glass. They make up the floor-to-ceiling windows, the balcony railings, and mirrors. Without them, your building won’t pass inspection as it would be deemed “unlivable.” 

Fats get a bad reputation but the reality is, they are an essential part of our diets-namely, hormone regulation.

However, they are often one of the more challenging macro goals to hit when learning how to track macros. Fats are not only found in red meats, poultry skins, and fish. They are also in oils, butter, milk, and a lot of condiments.

Hot tip: if you’re struggling to hit this goal, take a closer look at your condiments and the number of cooking oils you’re using. Making even the tiniest adjustments in this area can have a massive impact on your diet. 

And just like that you have constructed a healthy “bodybuilding” by gradually making changes to the way that you eat. What’s even better? You’re now functioning on a diet that is going to support everything you’re asking your body to do for you. Whether you’re lifting after your office job or in a 10/12 tech rehearsal, fueling your body well for each day is never a bad choice. So what are you waiting for? Small changes over time can have a massive impact on our future. Why not start today?

Want more tips for tracking macros? Our instagram is JAM PACKED with tips for adding more protein, packing rehearsal snacks, and more. Check it out! And don’t forget to leave us a comment telling us what you tried!

Healthy Foods

Are Foods Good and Bad? Building a Healthy Relationship With Food

We’ve all heard it before:

 “It’s fine, today’s my cheat day” 

“Come on, be bad with me!”

“Treat yourself! You’ve earned it!”

Each of these phrases are used to excuse or encourage the consumption of what are widely considered “bad foods.” You know, chips, pasta, cookies, ice cream, wine. I mean, when was the last time someone said “Oh yes, treat yourself! That spinach is going to be such a treat!” But just like nail polish doesn’t have a gender, neither does food have morality. Believing otherwise will prevent you from having a healthy relationship with food. 

Before we dive into the many reasons why labeling our foods as “good or bad” can actually mitigate your progress, we have to acknowledge that food satisfies a lot of needs in our lives.  And while there may be seasons where certain needs are prioritized over others, it doesn’t mean any of these needs should be ignored.

Obviously, at the very basic level, food is fuel for our bodies. 

But part of building a healthy relationship with food is recognizing that different foods fuel our bodies in different ways.

Foods can bring us joy if they are tied with childhood memories or celebrations. In other situations, foods bring people together; ever bake holiday cookies or a generational recipe with a family member? The key to good health isn’t about eliminating certain “bad foods.” It’s about balance.

We have to remember that we can still see massive improvements in our health, our athletic performance, and in our body composition without major restriction. The key? A focus on balancing our diet by adding more nutrient dense foods. But those other foods can still have a place in our diet.

Odds are you aren’t just eating one or two foods all day long, meal after meal, week after week. So instead of saying “I can’t have this thing anymore.” What if we instead asked ourselves,

“What could I add into my diet to either add nutrients or consume less processed foods in my meals?” 

So, how do I practically build a healthy relationship with food?

Well, when it does come time to decide what we want to eat, the first thing we should consider is, “why?”  Remember, different foods satisfy different needs.

Did you just run a marathon and need to replenish your nutrition relatively quickly, or are you hanging out at home cleaning?

What goals are you trying to achieve? Certain foods are going to be more helpful to achieving certain goals than others.

Finally, are you wanting to eat something that brings you joy or fulfills a special memory? Sometimes when you’re feeling lonely, spending the time to cook your Nonna’s homemade spaghetti can go a long way for your mental health. And like we always say, a healthy mind supports a healthy body! 

Healthy Relationship with Food

So, what happens when I restrict certain foods?

Restricting foods often makes you want them more. In fact, the National Library of Medicine says

Experimental studies suggest that a short-term, selective food deprivation seems to indeed increase cravings for the avoided foods.”

To make matters worse, when we decide to make a certain food “bad” or “off limits” if we do eat that food, we feel guilty– as if we’re bad or misbehaving by consuming that food. Which is, of course, untrue!

To make matters worse, once you feel like you’ve failed, it’s much easier to give up on your goals instead of just getting back on track the next time you eat. Which is a real shame, because eating for pleasure is absolutely okay!

As I said before, food serves many more purposes than simply fueling and nourishing our bodies. Foods that aren’t necessarily loaded with nutrients can still taste amazing, connect us with family and friends, create a sense of belonging, and make celebrations special. 

Imagine your favorite holiday meal or birthday celebration.

You’re surrounded by friends and family. You’re with the people you love eating foods that mean something to that community. Whether that’s a family cookie recipe handed down by your great-grandma or your favorite treat on a girls day with your best friends- those shared experiences add value to our lives.

My best friend lives far away from me, and we love french macarons. We first tasted them together and felt so fancy and grown-up eating them. The first time she visited me, on the day she left, I bought us each one macaron in our respective favorite colors. We “cheers-ed” with them over a cup of coffee, and now, every time she visits the city, we share a simple macaron moment. Is it always macro-friendly? No. Is it always worth it to share that sweet moment with my friend? Absolutely. 

Rigidity will ruin a healthy relationship with food.

We have to realize that, despite what mainstream media says, rigidity is the enemy of consistency. Having an “all or nothing” mindset only works for so long. Why? Because our lives are ever-changing, ever-growing.

I can have a fully stocked kitchen and still get stuck with only fifteen minutes to grab a quick bite between an audition and my side job. So, if fast food places are strictly on my “do not eat” list, I’m suddenly left with the choice to either be late for work or skipping dinner. This leaves you anxious, frustrated, irritable, and hungry.

That’s not the type of life we want you to lead as athletes and dancers.

Imperfect steps toward a goal still get us closer to our goals. Flexibility actually frees us to use our internal guidance rather than external rules to decide which foods to eat, when to eat them, and why we eat them. 

But what if I can’t have a healthy relationship with certain foods?

If rigidity is still appealing to you in regard to certain foods, it’s important to ask why. Getting curious about why we struggle with consuming certain foods in moderation can lead to emotional and psychological growth. We have to ask ourselves:

 “Why do I feel out of control with this food?” 

“What triggers my need or intense craving for this food?” 

“When is it possible to eat this food in moderate amounts, if ever?”

When we do this instead of eliminating those foods, we often find the underlying emotional or psychological thing that causes us to behave this way with certain foods. Some examples of this might be eating when we’re stressed, eating when we’re lonely, or even eating when we are bored.

Sometimes the trigger is a time of day or a location. Maybe you grew up having an after-school snack every day at three. Suddenly you recognize why you have an afternoon craving for sugar.

Other times social situations can trigger your food cravings; if everyone else is eating pizza and wings, I should too. And listen, there is nothing wrong with classic Super Bowl snacks. But if these situations are causing consistent issues for you, it’s worth taking a closer look. 

Relationship with Food

Feedback > Failure


The best part of leaning into the “why” behind these “off-limits food” is it empowers you to look at this information as feedback rather than failure. These foods are no longer “good” or “bad,” so we inherently cannot fail when we consume them.

That’s not to say, “eat whatever you want.” But, if you imagine food on a continuum, you can slowly shift your mindset from “don’t eat this” to “eat more of this, eat less of that.” Maybe it’s eating less processed foods and more whole foods. Maybe it’s consuming less alcohol and eating more fruit. Whatever it is, it allows you to have the freedom to choose when you eat certain things and fully enjoy them without any guilt or shame. 

So what are you having for dinner this week? Are you cooking a family recipe for your friends or meal-prepping for a busy week of auditions? We can’t wait to see how the power of choice frees you to make choices that support flexibility and growth instead of rigid control over your life. 

xox Am 

PS if you want to work with a pro-dancer/ certified personal trainer who can make tailored training, nutrition, and recovery plans for you, you should check out our 1:1 coaching program, The Embodied Artist Academy

How to eat more protein

Protein Packed!

It may seem like every time we talk about nutrition; we’re talking about how to eat more protein.

But that’s because protein is such a huge part of how our bodies function!

Did you know that every cell in our bodies contains protein?

Protein plays important roles in our immune function, metabolism, feeling full, weight management, body composition, and athletic performance. That’s why proteins are often referred to as “the building blocks of life!”

So, as you can see, it’s a no-brainer that a dancer is going to need plenty to thrive.

Energy Estimator

But just how much protein do we need?

The daily recommended protein intake for a high-intensity athlete (that’s us) is 1.4-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. In pounds, that means that we should consume about .64-.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight. An easy way to make sure you’re hitting this goal is to aim for one gram of protein per pound of body weight. This way, if you are a little bit under, you’re still in a great range, and the math is easier! 

The next question is, ‘How on earth do I eat that much?’ At first, learning how to eat more protein can seem daunting. I mean, that seems like a lot! But with just a few intentional choices, you’ll be hitting this goal consistently in no time. 


The best way to get into this habit is by planning ahead.

When learning how to eat more protein, you want to make sure you’re eating your protein in chunks throughout the day rather than all at once. That will help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day and will keep you from feeling overfull after your meals. To review, here are a few easy-to-find protein-packed foods to help you plan your meals: chicken, eggs, turkey, any red meat, fish, shellfish (like shrimp!), greek yogurt, cottage cheese, lentils, beans, tofu, and tempe. There are also, of course, protein powders, shakes, and bars as well.


Use protein hacks to maximize meals.

One of my favorite protein hacks is the protein latte. Make or order two shots of espresso (or cold brew) and put it in a large cup. Then add your favorite protein shake. Suddenly your latte is worth at least 26 grams of protein – add an egg white omelet, and you could be 50 grams of protein closer to your macro goal just by eating breakfast.

Are you an oatmeal person? Why not make it protein oatmeal by adding a scoop of protein powder?

More of a cereal snacker? Why not use a vanilla protein shake instead of milk? Bonus points if you choose to use a protein-boosted cereal like Premier Protein Cereal or Magic Spoon!

When learning how to eat more protein, we’ve found that front-loading your protein in the morning can make hitting your macro goals much easier. And bonus, eating before you drink your coffee (or with it in a protein latte) helps prevent your cortisol levels from spiking, which protects your body from going into stress mode.

Still feeling like you might be too full? Let’s walk through a potential day trying to hit 140-150 grams of protein. 


Breakfast: Protein Latte: 26 g. protein

      Omelete; 4 egg whites, one whole egg, veggies, half ounce of cheese: 24 g. Protein

      Daily Total: 50 grams of protein

Lunch: Big Ass Salad (BAS), Banana, Can of Tuna: 22 g. Protein

Daily Total: 77 grams of protein (Halfway there!)

Snack: Greek yogurt with fruit: 20 g. protein

Daily Total: 97 grams of protein

Dinner: Chicken and Pasta; 4 oz Chicken, Chickpea Pasta, Marinara: 48 g. Protein

Daily Total: 145 grams of protein (NAILED IT!) 


Now, I’m not here to tell you that eating like this comes easily. Learning how to eat more protein takes intentionality.

Culturally, protein is not usually the largest portion on our plates. But with just a few intentional adjustments, hitting your protein goal every day is well within reach. Whether it’s swapping greek yogurt for sour cream on your tacos or adding greek yogurt or cottage cheese to your fruit plate, there is almost always a way to add some protein to your meals and snacks.

Give it a try, and let us know how you do! We love hearing how our community is getting their protein in!

xox Am 

PS if you want to work with a pro-dancer/ certified personal trainer who can make tailored training, nutrition, and recovery plans for you, you should check out our 1:1 coaching program, The Embodied Artist Academy



Tracking food

Well, Isn’t That Handy?! An App-Free Guide For Tracking Food

Okay, let’s talk about tracking food.

For a lot of people, tracking food can be a challenging habit to create. And, despite it being an excellent and precise tool for following a nutrition plan, sometimes it’s necessary to take a break from the apps. But just because we aren’t using a fancy app doesn’t mean we need to give up on tracking our macros. In fact, one of the easiest ways to track your macros is with something you already have: your hand!  

Tracking Food by Hand

It’s true; the appropriate serving sizes for your macros for each meal can be measured by looking at your hand. And the best thing is, your hands come with you everywhere–how handy!

All jokes aside, the fact that these measuring tools come with you everywhere is a huge plus. This way, when you’re out to eat or not able to weigh your food with a scale, you’re still able to get a good idea of what you’re consuming. Another perk about using your hands for tracking food is that they are a consistent size and are scaled to the individual. Bigger people with larger macro needs will have bigger hands for larger portion sizes and vice versa. The main thing is, tracking food this way is effective and simple.


So let’s get started tracking food by hand!


Let’s focus on protein first.

One serving of protein should be about the size of your palm. This will be about 20-30 grams, or four ounces, of protein. This could be chicken, eggs, greek yogurt, or any protein. The goal is to have one or two of these “palm-sized” portions per meal.


Next, let’s tackle our vegetables.

While veggies aren’t a “macro” of their own (they fall into the carb category), they are an important part of every meal. They contain important micronutrients and fiber necessary to maintaining a balanced diet. At each of your meals, you’ll want to aim for your serving of non-starchy vegetables to be the size of one balled fist. This could be a side salad or some sauteed broccoli; the important thing here is to measure this in the form they will be eaten. Some veggies shrink when they are cooked – we’re looking at you, spinach– so you want to make sure you’re getting an accurate measurement of what you’re eating.


That brings us to our starchy vegetables and carbohydrates!

Using this hand measuring system, one serving of carbs will fill a cupped hand. So, hold your hand out like you are going to cup water and imagine that it’s full of rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, or whatever your carb is for that meal. Again, we are measuring these things in the form in which they will be eaten- if you measure dried rice in a cupped hand, you’ll find yourself consuming more servings of carbs than you might be aiming for. One cupped hand is usually about 20-30 grams of carbs. 

Finally, we get to our fats.

A good rule of thumb for measuring fats is “the rule of thumb!”  No, seriously, one serving of fats is about the size of your thumb! This is equal to about one tablespoon of cooking oil or 7-12 grams of fat-dense food. Depending on the meal, you’ll want one to two servings. This can be the trickiest because it’s easy to measure with your heart when it comes to olive oil and even harder to realize how much you’re consuming when you’re dunking bread in it at the Italian restaurant. Just remember, any adjustment is better than none. So, give the rule of thumb a try!

Okay, but what about lesser nutritious foods?

This system even works with more processed foods like chips or cookies. Let’s say you’re eating a chocolate chip cookie. Look at the size of the cookie and take a look at your cupped hand; how many servings is it? Some cookies might be about one. Others could be as large as three!

Same with chips. Picture a small handful of salt and vinegar chips. You could count that as about one thumb full (one serving) of fat, OR you could measure it as one cupped hand (one serving) of carbs. You get to decide if you treat it as a carb or fat, depending on the food! 

Next time you need a break from counting your calories or when you’re on vacation and avoiding your phone, try tracking food consumption “by hand.” You might be surprised by how easy it is to make well-balanced choices with this method in mind! And who knows, maybe you’ll find that keeping track of what you eat isn’t so hard after all.


xox DWL Team 

PS. Do you want to claim everything that’s already yours– fitness, nutrition, and mindset? Connect with our team of experts and join The Embodied Artist Academy, our personalized coaching program for performers.