It’s no secret that dancers have enviable abs – just flipping through the channels during prime time will tell you that, with all the dance competition shows on these days. While there’s a lot more than just dancing that goes into getting the strong core of your dreams, the reality is that dancing is one of the best core blasting exercises that there is. You can literally dance your way to abs of steel if you learn how to properly activate and target your core muscles for toning while you dance. Dancing is a full-body cardio workout that can go a long way towards toning your midsection but to get the most out of your core dance workout, you’ll benefit from following a few helpful tips and learning a few tricks along the way.
How Dancing Works Your Core
If you’re envisioning doing thousands of crunches and sit-ups as the only way to achieve a flat belly, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that dance is a surprisingly effective way to train your core without even realizing it. Dancing works your core through a combination of natural twisting, turning, reaching, and stretching movements that mimic how we move in our everyday lives. Each of these movements works the layers of the core, strengthening the muscles of the abdominals and lower back. Although most people think of the abs when they think of their core, your core also includes the muscles of your lower back, which help stabilize the entire body. In fact, many back problems and issues are tied to a weak core! Dancing helps improve your posture by strengthening the muscles surrounding the spine, which is one of the reasons why many dancers have such impeccable posture. Of course, dancing is a total body workout and isn’t limited to core exercises – it will get your heart rate up and sculpt all muscle groups, including the upper body, lower body, glutes, and more.
Learning to Target Your Core
Doing a core dance workout or other core work is great, but you’ll achieve results more quickly if you learn how to intentionally target your core muscles during your workouts. First, it helps to know the muscles that make up your core, and as we’ve already established, that’s more than just your would-be six-pack! The core includes your transverse abdominis (the deep layer of the core), rectus abdominis (the six-pack), internal obliques, external obliques, and your back. Once you become familiar with the anatomy of your core, you’ll rely on your dance instructor (either using an online exercise program like Figure8 or in-person) to lead you through a series of dance moves that help improve spinal flexibility and engage specific core muscles while they’re working. Once you know what it feels like to engage and activate individual muscles, you’ll be able to recognize when this is happening in workouts, and more importantly, when it’s not happening.
Getting the Best Results
No matter what, dancing is a great core workout, but if you want to take your results to the next level and achieve the abs of your dreams, you’ll have to take your commitment a step further. In order to get the best results, try following these tips:
- Know your anatomy: We’ve already talked about why knowing your anatomy is key if you want to get the maximum results when core training through dance, but the importance can’t be overstated. Knowing your anatomy will help you to target areas that are considered “trouble spots” for you and can guide you in the types of dance and exercises that you choose. For example, if you are worried about your “muffin top,” you’ll want to focus on working your obliques with workouts like belly dancing, pilates, and hip-shaking. You don’t have to be a personal trainer to learn about your body and take steps towards getting the waistline of your dreams.
- Mix it up: They say variety is the spice of life, and that’s different true when it comes to maximizing your results! You want to constantly keep your body guessing about what workout you’ll be doing today, so don’t wear out the same dance workout videos every day. Consider joining an online fitness community like Body FX that offers a huge library of dances at a variety of different paces, levels, and targeted areas. Maybe mix it up a bit and try a hip-hop dance workout or a belly dance routine. Trust us, your core will thank you!
- Get healthy in the kitchen: As the saying goes, “abs are made in the kitchen,” and unfortunately, yours are probably not an exception. Like it or not, in order to get the best results and see a leaner midsection, you’ll have to focus on eating a healthy, well-balanced diet full of lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Leave the processed food and junk out as much as possible, because stubborn belly fat will respond best to a diet of whole foods. Your meals don’t have to be complicated – they just have to fuel your workouts – but if you struggle to come up with recipe ideas, consider joining an online fitness community. You’ll not only get tons of great dance workouts to burn calories, but you’ll also get detailed nutritional suggestions, daily coaching, and be able to connect with other people just like you who are working on their fitness.
- Earn extra credit: The best way to become a stronger dancer and improve your choreography is to earn some extra credit in the form of whole-body exercises performed while you stabilize your core. It might not be as much fun as dancing, but try performing movements like squats or overhead presses on unstable surfaces, like a Bosu or soft mat, while keeping your core engaged. Building your core strength with these extra ab workouts performed just a few times per week will make a big difference in your overall strength and results.
There are plenty of great core dance workouts out there, but rather than sticking to one worn-out DVD, consider joining an online community that provides hundreds of hours of streaming workout routines, daily coaching, and detailed nutritional suggestions, like Body FX.