Cardio for Dancers

January 5, 2011







Last month we told you to warm up your body with aerobic exercise before stretching. Here, with the help of athletic trainer Megan Richardson, DS brings you three heart-pumping moves that will get your heart rate up and your muscles moving. And remember: cardio, stretching, then dancing!


Exercise #1: Walking Lunge


Why this is good for you: The lunge is a compound exercise, meaning it works numerous muscle groups (butt and thighs) while warming up the lower body.

Extend the right leg in front until the foot is flat and the knee is at a 90-degree angle. The left arm should naturally come forward with a relaxed fist. Next, pull the back leg through passé and switch the arm. Keep the hips level, not lifted. Finally, step forward onto the left foot until the knee is at a 90-degree angle. Do four alternating lunges in a row; repeat four times.




1. Keep knee over ankle, not toes.


2. Use proper posture.



Exercise #2: Prancing


Why this is good for you: This move works through the muscles and tendons of the toes, feet, ankles, knees and hips and increases the heart rate.

Step onto the left foot and allow the right foot to slowly roll off the floor until the foot is completely pointed. Arms should naturally swing in opposition to the feet. Next step onto the right foot and roll through the left until it’s completely pointed. Continue to switch feet, gradually gaining speed and height. Repeat six times in 30-second spurts, incrementally increasing power.




1. Stretch fingers and toes.


2. Keep focus forward.



Exercise #3: Bottoms Up


Why this is good for you: This move is a dynamic hamstring warmup and stretch.

Start with feet shoulder-width apart and elbows placed on the thighs. The body’s weight should be held in the thigh muscles. Arch the lower back. Slowly straighten the knees as far as you can while keeping the back arched. Repeat 10 times in a row.




1. Keep breathing.


2. Engage abs.


3. Keep focus down and forward.

Watch Monica demonstrate these moves at




Consultant: Megan Richardson


Megan Richardson, MS, ATC, is a clinical specialist and athletic trainer at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases.


Photo by Matt Karas.