Strength Training Update

‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions and changing one’s life radically right now – at least for another few days. I mostly set goals whenever they occur to me (if I’m not feeling too lazy) and my resolution depends on the device I’m using  – right now it is 1920×1200 and 1920×1080 respectively, because one monitor is never, ever enough.

I have joined my gym about two months ago, and by now, I have successfully completed the basic strength training program they put beginners through to test their resolve. My mom and I have been hitting the gym twice a week like clockwork and feel like we’ve made some progress. Now the real work begins.

I decided to join the gym after my summer physio jam, during which I built up quite some muscle and noticed improvements in my dancing as a result. Mr. Adorable implied he would never forgive me if I just stopped cross-training, and besides, I have very little desire to get injured again. So strength training it was. Having completed the mostly machine-based beginner program, I can now set my own goals and shift my focus towards functional training with free weights and complex movements.

I met up with my trainer on the last Wednesday before Christmas to set up a new training routine. Since my goal of handstands has proved to be much closer than I thought and to require skill, not strength, I changed my goals to push-ups and pull-ups, none of which I have ever been able to do well or at all. I also told him I’d love to learn barbell squats and deadlifts and in general to cross-train for dancing.

The outcome of that session was quite satisfying. Complex movements, eccentric exercises for injury prevention and single-leg variations for increased stability make up my new training plan. I’m starting out with bar-only squats and deadlifts to learn the proper technique. The deadlifts are more complex and will take a couple of sessions to get used to. The squats are demonstrating the shortages of the squat machine: while I can easily machine my own weight for fifteen reps, my glutes are not very happy with the weight of the bar, which is only a third of that. They’ve got some catching up to do.

The only machine I’ve got left is the lat pulldown, because at my stage of training, that’s the only useful way to prepare for pull-ups. I’m starting with a third of my weight and a long way ahead of me. The rest of my training program is comprised of knee push-ups, various single-leg squats for strength and balance, full-range Nordic hamstring curls with a resistance band for assistance, single-leg good mornings with a kettlebell and back extensions and other core stuff. I’m also continuing with my beloved Copenhagen adduction, which my trainer was very impressed with.

As you can see, I’ve got my work cut out for me. I’ll also be doing resistance band foot exercises for more ankle stability. To my great pleasure, my trainer recommended I do all of this wearing socks instead of shoes, so I can now wear my glorious sock collection to the gym as well as to dance class.

I got to try the whole thing out on Friday, which, being the last work day before Christmas, saw very few people at the gym – perfect for taking your time to figure out how everything works. It was a little bit scary to hit the squat rack for the first time, but no one pointed and laughed, so I figured I was doing alright. At least half of my exercises require no stationary equipment, so I should be fine even when the gym fills up again in February (it’s a uni gym, so I expect January will be fairly quiet).

Unfortunately, I was dehydrated and/or not warm enough during that first session and one of my hamstrings spazzed out on me. Not during one of the brutal exercises, either, but as I was walking across the floor in a straight line. Typical. As the cramp refused to be stretched out properly, I decided to complete the non-hamstring-related exercises, skip the last modern class of the year and give it time to get it’s shit together recover over the holidays, which it did just fine. I’ve done a little training session at home on Saturday, to prepare for my full return and now I’m looking forward to the first proper training this year tomorrow – followed by the first, and quite possibly last, jazz class. Next Wednesday, I’m going to check out the Advanced modern class.

What do you do to cross-train for dance? And if you don’t do anything yet, would you like to? Why (not)?

7 thoughts on “Strength Training Update

  1. Yes! I wish geography wasn’t such a nuisance.
    I tried power yoga once and rather liked it. The class was too expensive to join though.


  2. I cross-train with weight training at home or gym (kettle bells, dumb bells, resistance machines), yoga, Pilates. As tap is my thing, I cross-train with barre-only ballet class.

    Liked by 1 person

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