Dr. Jessica Robinson, PT, DPT
The short answer: yes! Weight training can have a multitude of benefits for dancers and gymnasts alike. Weight training is not a new concept for these two groups and has been slowly gaining traction over recent years; however, it does still come with some uncertainty and occasional controversy.
Traditionally, conditioning and cross training for dancers and gymnasts has consisted of Pilates, yoga, band work, and mainly body weight and/or sport specific exercises. While these forms of conditioning are still good options and have their place, it has been shown that they are not sufficient enough to reproduce the forces placed on the body during training and competition activities. For example, in gymnastics, forces being applied to the body when doing skills or landings can reach upwards of 15x that of body weight.
The reason weight training can produce greater increases in muscular strength and endurance than body weight exercises alone is the fact that weight training results in a larger recruitment of muscle fibers. Tailored programming can also help to develop the neuromuscular systems in the body to increase both the activation and efficiency of muscle groups. Other specific benefits can include:
With so many benefits, the real question is why aren’t dancers and gymnasts weight training more often like we see in other types of athletics?? There are some common myths associated with weight training amongst both these groups that we’ll go ahead and address.
As we can see, weight training is definitely an effective way to enhance performance in both of these sports. While it is effective for building strength, it is important to note that it is only one aspect of cross training/conditioning. It should not be seen as a replacement for other forms of conditioning or dance/gymnastics specific training but rather as a compliment to bring about greater results, creating a well-rounded and more resilient athlete/individual.
If you are interested in learning more about how weight training can enhance your sport performance, feel free to contact us!
1. Lauersen JB;Bertelsen DM;Andersen. “The Effectiveness of Exercise Interventions to Prevent Sports Injuries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24100287/.
2. Brown, Andrea C., et al. “Effects of Plyometric Training versus Traditional Weight Training on Strength, Power, and Aesthetic Jumping Ability in Female Collegiate Dancers.” Latest TOC RSS, J. Michael Ryan Publishing Inc., 1 June 2007.
3. Iversen VM;Mork PJ;Vasseljen O;Bergquist R;Fimland MS; “Multiple-Joint Exercises Using Elastic Resistance Bands vs. Conventional Resistance-Training Equipment: A Cross-over Study.” European Journal of Sport Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28628370/.
4. Koutedakis, Yiannis, et al. “(PDF) Muscular Strength: Applications for Dancers.” ResearchGate, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/44392574_Muscular_Strength_Applications_for_Dancers.
5. Shift Movement Science. Ultimate Gymnastics Strength Guide.
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