What do you think of when you think of traditional workouts for guys, if there is such a thing? The first images that come to mind for many people might include weight lifting and strength training (free weights, of course like dumbbells), wrestling, or maybe a functional fitness full body workout like CrossFit. It might not be fair, but we often tend to think of group fitness classes and workout routines, particularly those like yoga, pilates, barre, and dance routines, as classes that are geared towards women who are looking for weight loss and sculpting and toning muscles with a low-impact workout, while the men are out in the weight room lifting the heavy stuff.
Here’s the thing – women can (and do, and should!) lift heavy weights, while men can find incredible satisfaction doing group fitness. If you’re a guy who is interested in incorporating more cardio into your routine but aren’t exactly excited about the idea of hopping on the treadmill, dance might be the perfect workout for you. There’s nothing better than a guy who have dance moves, so why not improve your fitness and have some fun at the same time? The best cardio dance workout for men might be the one you least expect.
Why Men Should Try Dance
Dance has a ton of incredible benefits for your body and health, and if you’re not doing it, you’re missing out. No matter what your fitness goals might be, you can benefit from incorporating dance workouts into your routine. For example, dance is an excellent way to build lean muscle tone, improve your range of motion, and improve your flexibility. In general, men tend to be less flexible than women, although scientists are not sure exactly why this is the case. Reduced flexibility means a smaller range of motion, and dancing can help improve both. There are also plenty of other reasons to dance:
- Improve your cardio: If there’s nothing you find more satisfying than sweating hard through a tough workout, dance will certainly meet that criteria. Dancing for fitness will get your heart rate up and keep it up for the entire length of the class or video, and you’ll be pouring sweat by the time it’s over. There’s a reason why all of the dancers on tv are in such incredible shape, right? It’s a tough workout.
- Strengthen your core: If you’ve been working on your six-pack but haven’t quite gotten there yet, dancing might be able to put you over the edge towards your goal. Dancing is one of the best core strengthening workouts on the planet thanks to all of the twisting and turning motions, which work every layer of your core. A strong core means a strong back and less lower back pain, and who doesn’t want that?
- Better cognitive function: Dancing has been shown in study after study to improve cognitive function and prevent the onset of conditions like dementia. Although it’s especially effective in preventing cognitive decline in the elderly, everyone can benefit from effects like an improved mood, reduced stress levels, and increased executive functioning abilities.
- Avoid injury: Overuse injuries from exercise are common, but they’re less problematic for people who do dance workouts. The reasoning is simple. Unlike repetitive forms of exercises, such as running, cycling, or weight lifting, in which the same movement is performed repeatedly, dancing uses a wide range of motion. And because your whole body gets stronger with dance, including the tiny stabilizing muscles, you lower your chance of getting injured while picking up that heavy box or moving things around your house!
- Build strength: If you think the only way to build strength is in the weight room, think again. Dance works and tones every muscle of your body, helping to build lean muscle mass and burn fat. Unlike weight training, which typically focuses on one muscle group on any individual day, dance hits all of your muscles, both large and small, with every workout.
How to Find the Best Dance Workout for Men
Spoiler alert: there is no one best dance workout for men; there’s only a best dance workout for you. Which dance workout is best will depend on a number of factors, including your prior dance experience, current fitness level, injury history, and musical preferences.
If you’re intimidated by taking a dance class at your local gym or fitness studio, try working out at home with an online fitness community like Body FX. You’ll get access to hundreds of online workouts, including tons of dance videos, and you don’t have to worry about fitting in or feeling foolish in class.
When choosing a dance workout, think about your prior dance experience. If you’ve never taken a class before, it’s best to start with a video geared towards beginners because they’ll introduce the choreography more slowly, helping you to keep up. If you’re just getting started with your fitness journey, the same rule also applies, but if you’re looking to get an intense burn going, try choosing a video with “cardio” in the title, like our Figure 8 Core Cardio Burn, that is set to upbeat music.
Your injury history is also an important factor, particularly if you have a limited range of motion. For example, if you need to avoid high impact due to an old knee injury, look for videos that will keep your feet mostly on the ground, like Jaana Rhythms Disco, and avoid anything with a lot of jumping. You can also look for videos that offer modifications for different movements so that you can keep up with the choreography while avoiding aggravating your injury.
Finally, don’t forget to choose music that you like! While you might find that your musical tastes expand as you get more into dance workouts, it’s good to start out with music you know you’ll like, especially at first. You’ll find videos with every type of musical theme from hip-hop to latin, and videos like Jaana Rhythms incorporate many different genres.