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Improving the Line in your Leg for Irish Dance

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Extension in Irish dance, Irish dance strength and conditioning

I was recently at a dance competition where several World Champions were competing. One noticeable technical skill that made them stand out from the rest, was a consistent, strong line in their leg.

So how do you achieve that strong, long line in your leg like the World Champions? By focusing on developing your quadricep muscles in full extension.

Extension in Irish dance, Irish dance strength and conditioning

For Irish dancing, it is ideal to dance with your knee in full extension which will allow your leg to straighten all the way. The quadricep muscle group is responsible for positioning the knee into full extension. It is comprised of 4 separate muscles that cover the front and side of the femur (the bone in your thigh).


  • Rectus Femoris - middle of the thigh

  • Vastus Medialis - on the medial side of the femur (the inner thigh)

  • Vastus Lateralis - on the lateral side of the femur (the outer thigh)

  • Vastus Intermedius - between the Vastus Medialis and Vastud Lateralis on the front of the femur, below the rectus femurs.

In order to improve the line in our leg, we must strengthen our quadricep muscles to full extension. See below for a leg extension exercise you can work on to develop a straighter, stronger line in your leg.

Extension in Irish dance, Irish dance strength and conditioning

Leg Extension Exercise with an Exercise Band

  • Lay on the floor, belly down

  • Place one end of an exercise band around your foot and the other end on an anchor point (someone holding the band or tied to a post or bottom of the couch).

  • Extend your leg completely and hold for a count

  • With control, return your foot back up

  • Breathing notes: breathe OUT when you extend your leg and breathe in when you bring it back to the starting position


  • Leg positions - Try the leg extension in three different positions, legs in neutral, legs turned in, and legs turned out. This way you are focusing on each of the different quadricep muscles.

  • Changing the tempo - Play around with variations in speed. We’ll post a video this Friday for the Friday Friend Challenge that will show how to change the tempo in this movement.


Extension in Irish dance, Irish dance strength and conditioning, Ellen G Waller


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