Updated: Feb 24, 2022
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!
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ATTACK, STAMINA & POWER Blog series
Part 4 - How technique impacts your attack, stamina & power
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