Everyone knows that squats are great for dancers, right? Right, but still very few dancers actually use these exercises and there are still many misconceptions surrounding squats and what squatting will do to your body.
Ballroom Dancesport requires a wide range of rising/lowering actions that can benefit from squatting exercises- strong leg muscles and movement control will enable you to rise and fall, create low lines and hold challenging stationary positions more efficiently and without loss of posture and control.
The squat is one of the best compound exercises, meaning multiple muscles are activated at once. It works your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves- all of these are heavily used while dancing. Plus, as squats activate your glutes, they’re a part of core stability training as well.
How to use squat in your physical preparation routine? And will they work? And will they make your legs bulky? Let’s find out!
HOW DO i SQUAT CORRECTLY?
Just like with running and proprioceptive training (see related blog posts here- RUNNING/ PROPRIOCEPTION) technique is very important. Squatting will be efficient and safe only if you follow a few rules while exercising:
1. ACTIVE CORE & UPRIGHT POSTURE – this is no news; as with every exercise correct posture and engaged core are crucial for correct and safe execution.
2. KNEE LINE- or rather, make sure there’s a straight line from your knee to your ankle in the lowest point of the squat. You’ll achieve this if you imagine sitting down on a very low stool, sending your hips backward and keeping body weight towards the back of your foot.
3. KNEE-FOOT ORIENTATION- knees and feet need to point in the same direction at all times! This is especially important when executing sumo squats or single leg squats where knees very often “want” to turn inwards.
3 SQUAT EXERCISES FOR YOU TO TRY FIRST
1. Basic squat
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly out, and your arms down at your side.
- Start to hinge at the hips and bend your knees, sitting back like you’re going to sit down and allowing your arms to raise up in front of you. Ensure that your knees don’t fall inward and your back stays straight.
- When your thighs are parallel to the ground, stop and push up through your heels to return to start.
- Keep core engaged and tighten your glutes on the way up.
4. Side squat
It’s important to work in all planes- not only front and back, but side to side as well.
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms down at your sides.
- Begin to hinge at the hips and bend your knees, stepping your right foot out to the side. Make sure your stepping foot and knee are aligned. Arms may be brought to your waist or held in front in a comfortable position.
- When your thighs are parallel to the ground, stand up, stepping your left foot to meet your right.
- Repeat, stepping your left foot out and bringing your right foot to meet it.
3. Single-leg squat
A single-leg squat is just that — a squat on one leg.
This is the most “wobbly” of the three exercises we’re suggesting today and should be done with the most care as it’s easy to lose posture and knee/foot alignment.
- Start by standing with your feet together and your arms out in front of you.
- Lift your left leg up off of the ground in front of you and squat down on your right as far as you can go, stopping when your right thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Stand up, then switch legs.
- You may want to start with a less deep execution- stop at 45 degrees and stand up to start with.
If you’re just starting out start with 3 sessions per week (by all means combine squats with your running/circuit training schedule if you have one). Start with 30 repetitions per position, take a break, and repeat.
As we always say- the most important aspect of your training is correct execution. So start slow and build up your repetition count as you go.
So, here you have it peeps….all there is to it now is for you to include squats in your regular workouts!
Luca & Tjaša