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Fact Check!

Myths to resistance training.

Reina Teh, May 2020



Myth 1: Resistance training results in muscle bulk thus affecting the dancer’s physical aesthetic.

That is not the truth! Multiple studies have shown that a well designed resistance training programme is able to increase muscle strength without affecting the dancers aesthetic appearance10. In fact, resistance training can improve muscles ability to generate more force to enhance dancers performance 6,7,11,13.

Myth 2: Strength training will affect flexibility.

In the actual fact, strength and flexibility training complements each other to obtain optimal performance. These are proven to be positive in multiple studies 2,10.

To put theory into perspective, many a times dancers focus mainly on flexibility training and training on a regular basis will cause the connective tissue in the muscles to loosen and elongate2,11. This results in damaged tissue due to over stretching or sudden powerful movement contraction which will increase the likely hood of injury.

However, injuries can be prevented by performing resistance training as it will strengthen the connective tissue. But remember, it is important to be moving through the full range of motion while performing these exercises11.

Myth 3: Attending daily dance class is enough.

Research suggest that dance class and rehearsals equip dancers with the ability to perform technical skill but do not develop physical capability to cope with the demands of dance performances. This is due to the increasing physical demands placed on dancers. Hence, in the current dance environment both fitness and skill development becomes of utmost important8.  Fitness here is defined as the ability to meet the demand of a specific physical task, including body composition, joint mobility and cardiorespiratory fitness5,10,15.

However, it is understood that dancers, especially professional dancers, goes through several hours of dance training which will result in fatigue and lack of time for resistance training. Hence, it is important for dancers / dance companies to schedule a conditioning class or include it within the class/rehearsal time regardless of dance genres.

Myth 4: When dancers performs resistance training, they have to train within the dance movements vocabularies.

As strange as it sounds, when conducting resistance training for dancers, one does not need to load on the specific dance movements. Such loading may actually lead to detrimental effects such as injury or engagement of the wrong muscles resulting in zero improvements.

Alternatively, one should identify the muscle group use while performing a movement / consult a strength and conditioning coach to identify a more effective methodology to improve the particular movement.


  1. Brinson P, Dick F: Fit to Dance? London: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1996
  2. Bushey SR. Relationship of modern dancer performance to agility, balance, flexibility, power and strength Res Q 37 (3): 313 – 316, 1996.
  3. Cale-Benzoor M, Albert M, Grodin A, Woodruff LD: Isokinetic trunk muscle performance characterisitics of classical ballet dancers. J Orthop Sports  
  4. Clarkson PM, Freedson PS, Keller B, et al: Maximal oxygen uptake, nutritional patterns, and body composition of adolescent female ballet dancers. Res Q Exerc Sport 56:180- 184, 1985.
  5. Cohen JL, Segal KR, Witriol I, McArdle WD: Cardiorespiratory responses to ballet exercise and the VO2max of elite ballet dancers. Med Sci Sports Exercise 14(3):212-217, 1982.
  6. Koutedakis Y, Corss V, Sharp NCC: The Effects of Strength Training in Male Baller Dancers. Impulse 4 (3): 210 – 219, 1996.
  7. Koutedakis Y, Sharp NCC: The Fit and Healthy Dancer. Chichester, England: John Wiley and Sons, 1999.
  8. Koutedakis Y, Sharp NCC: Thigh muscles strength training, dance exercise dynamometry and anthropometry in professional ballerina. J Strength & conditioning Res 18 (4): 714-718, 2004.
  9. Koutedakis Y, Jamurtas A: The dancer as a performing athlete: Physiological considerations. Sports Med 34(10):651-661, 2004.
  10. Koutedakis, et al. “The Significance of Muscular Strength in Dance.” Latest TOC RSS, K. Michael Ryan Publishing Inc. 2005.
  11. Kurz T: Stretching Scientifically: A guide to flexibility training (4 ed) Island Pond, Vermont: stadion publishing, 2003.
  12. Reid DC: Prevention of hip and knee injuries in ballet dancers. Sports Med 6(5):295-307, 1988.  
  13. Stalder MA, Noble BJ. Wilkinson J: The effect of supplementary training for ballet dancers J Appl Sport Sci Res 4 (3): 95 – 102, 1990.
  14. Stracciolini, Angrea, et al. “Resistance Training for Paediatric Female Dancer.” Journal of Dance Medicine & Science: Official Publication of the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 30 May 2016.
  15. Van Gyn GH: Contemporary stretching techniques: Theory and application. In: Shell CG (ed): The Dancer as Athlete: The 1984 Olympic Scientific Congress Proceedings. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc., 1986, pp. 109-116.

Disclaimer: *SCAPE strongly recommend that you consult with your physician before executing any exercises. Information contained within this article are for educational and informational purpose only while authors draw on their professional expertise and research available. In the event that you use the information provided through our website and or article, *SCAPE and the authors assume no responsibility.