Updated: Feb 12
In the last blog, we’ve talked all about how your body produces energy for Irish dance, specifically with the anaerobic energy system. However, training anaerobic endurance is only half the battle when it comes to improving Irish dance stamina. The other part of this battle is to be able to maintain your technique through your entire dance.
Do you ever feel like you get to a point in your dance where you lose a technique? Has a teacher ever told you, “I could tell you were tired because you lost your [insert technique here].” For me, it was lifting in the back! My teachers could always tell when I was tired because I would stop lifting all the way to my bum. This wasn’t something I would do on purpose--the muscles I needed to use to lift my foot up in back (my hamstrings) were literally too fatigued to do their job!
All of these skills--turnout, crossing, arms in, toe height, shoulders back, etc--need strength to execute. For example, to keep your arms in, you need strength in your latissimus dorsi (also known as your lat muscles) to pull your arms in tight to your side. However, your lat muscles also need the endurance to be able to hold that contraction long enough to keep your arms in the entire time you dance. Without the proper muscular endurance, you might be able to hold your arms in for 8 bars of your steps, but they’ll start to move more and more the further you get into the dance.
Just like anaerobic endurance, muscular endurance is highly trainable and can be improved. However, also like anaerobic endurance, training your muscular endurance is very physically challenging and requires a lot of mental toughness, but will result in huge improvements in your dancing.
One way to train your muscular endurance is to just add more time to your exercises. Holding a 30 second side plank? Add 10 more seconds. However, what I like to do in Target Training’s classes is to do multiple exercises in a row that target the same muscle group but to do them without rest in between. This is called a Super Set. For example, if we’re working on muscular endurance in our triceps, we might do a set of tricep pushups followed by a set of tricep extensions with a resistance band.
Just like with anaerobic endurance training, the best way to start building muscular endurance is to start. Give yourself 10 minutes per day dedicated to improving your muscular endurance, and add a few minutes every week!
TT Online Institute recommendations
If you're a member of the TT Online Institute, there are dozens of skill specific training videos to help improve the technique of various skills such as Arms In, Turnout, Crossover, Arms Straight, Curling in the Back, Toe Height, Back Leg Toe Height, Posture, Lines & Extension, Pointing, etc!
Not yet an athlete with the TT Online Institute?
You can get a FREE 14 day trial of the Trainer subscription, no code needed. Click HERE to get started today!
ATTACK, STAMINA & POWER Blog series
Part 4 - How technique impacts your attack, stamina & power
Alves, A. R., Marta, C. C., Neiva, H. P., Izquierdo, M., and Marques, M. C. (2016). Concurrent training in prepubescent children: the effects of 8 weeks of strength and aerobic training on explosive strength and V[Combining Dot Above]O2max. J. Strength Cond. Res. 30, 2019–2032.
Assuncao, A. R., Bottaro, M., Ferreira-Junior, J. B., Izquierdo, M., Cadore, E. L., and Gentil, P. (2016). The chronic effects of low- and high-intensity resistance training on muscular fitness in adolescents.
Attene, G., Iuliano, E., Di Cagno, A., Calcagno, G., Moalla, W., Aquino, G., et al. (2015). Improving neuromuscular performance in young basketball players: plyometric vs. technique training. J. Sports Med. Phys. Fitness 55, 1–8.
Behm, D. G., Drinkwater, E. J., Willardson, J. M., Cowley, P. M., and Canadian Society for Exercise, P. (2010b). Canadian society for exercise physiology position stand: the use of instability to train the core in athletic and nonathletic conditioning. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 35, 109–112.
Behm, D. G., et all (2017). Effectiveness of Traditional Strength vs. Power Training on Muscle Strength, Power and Speed with Youth: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Physiology.
Behringer, M., Vom Heede, A., Matthews, M., and Mester, J. (2011). Effects of strength training on motor performance skills in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Pediat. Exerc. Sci. 23, 186–206.
Granacher, U., Lesinski, M., Busch, D., Muehlbauer, T., Prieske, O., Puta, C., et al. (2016). Effects of resistance training in youth athletes on muscular fitness and athletic performance: a conceptual model for long-term athlete development. Front. Physiol. 7:164.
Marques, M. C., Pereira, A., Reis, I. G., and van den Tillaar, R. (2013). Does an in-season 6-week combined sprint and jump training program improve strength-speed abilities and kicking performance in young soccer players? J. Hum. Kinet. 39, 157–166.
Ratel, S., Duche, P., and Williams, C. A. (2006). Muscle fatigue during high-intensity exercise in children. Sports Med. 36, 1031–1065.
Wong, P. L., Chamari, K., and Wisloff, U. (2010). Effects of 12-week on-field combined strength and power training on physical performance among U-14 young soccer players. J. Strength Cond. Res. 24, 644–652.