The 7 Best Moves for Your Dancer Bod

If you’re traveling and can’t make it to a dance class—or even to the hotel gym—that doesn’t mean you have to skip your workout. DS asked four fitness pros who specialize in dance for their favorite dancer-specific exercises. These moves will keep you toned all over, and none of them require any props or equipment. Happy sweating!

Jump-Start Your Heart Rate 1: Jumps in Second
Jump-Start Your Heart Rate 1: Jumps in Second
Jump-Start Your Heart Rate 1: Jumps in Second
Jump-Start Your Heart Rate 2: Mountain Climbers
Jump-Start Your Heart Rate 2: Mountain Climbers
Strengthen Your Core 1: Planks
Strengthen Your Core 2: Lunge Walk With a Twist
Strengthen Your Core 2: Lunge Walk With a Twist
Tone Your Upper Body 1: Tricep Dips
Tone Your Upper Body 1: Tricep Dips
Tone Your Upper Body 2: Push-Ups
Tone Your Upper Body 2: Push-Ups
Get Bendy: Hip Flexor Psoas Stretch
Get Bendy: Hip Flexor Psoas Stretch

Jump-Start Your Heart Rate 1: Jumps in Second

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Why they’re crucial: Daphnie Yang, a dance instructor and certified trainer in NYC, loves this exercise because it gets your blood flowing and pumps energy into your legs. It’s a great pre-performance warm-up move.

How to do them: Start in second position, legs turned out, with your arms lifted in front of your chest like you’re holding a basketball.

Jump-Start Your Heart Rate 1: Jumps in Second

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Plié and then jump straight up, landing in plié.

Jump-Start Your Heart Rate 1: Jumps in Second

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The jumps should explode into the air, and the pliés should be deep. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Jump-Start Your Heart Rate 2: Mountain Climbers

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Why they’re crucial: According to dancer-turned-cycling-and-yoga-instructor Bethany Lyons, this super-tough exercise is “great for cardio, and it’s a strength builder. Mountain climbers target and tone your core, back, leg and arm muscles.”

How to do them: Start in plank position with your body forming a straight line from your head to your heels. Bring one knee in toward your chest.

Jump-Start Your Heart Rate 2: Mountain Climbers

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Then switch and repeat with the other knee. Lyons advises putting on “music with a good, steady, up-tempo beat and going nonstop for one to two minutes.” Then rest and repeat.

Strengthen Your Core 1: Planks

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Why they’re crucial: Nearly every fitness pro we reached out to recommended this move. “A plank is the best core activator,” says Brynn Jinnett, former New York City Ballet dancer and creator of Refine Method in NYC. “A strong core will allow you to move your limbs with strength and control.” If you want higher leaps and a stronger center, you’ve got to work your center muscles.

How to do them: You’re essentially just holding the starting position for a push-up. “Make sure your spine is neutral and your belly button is pulled in,” Lyons says. “Your hips should be in alignment with your head and your heels. Hold for 30 seconds and work your way up to being able to hold for two minutes.”

Strengthen Your Core 2: Lunge Walk With a Twist

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Why it’s crucial: Leigh Heflin, from the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Medical Center in NYC, recommends this move. “It helps you activate all of the lower extremity muscles while stretching your iliopsoas [hip flexor] muscles,” she says. “The twist adds an extra stretch for the torso and activates the obliques.”

How to do it: Step forward into a lunge and lift your arms straight out in front of your shoulders.

Strengthen Your Core 2: Lunge Walk With a Twist

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Rotate your upper body toward the front leg and then return to center. Then return to standing by bringing the back leg forward to meet the front leg as your arms return to the sides of your body. Repeat, alternating legs, across the floor, for about 10 to 15 reps per leg. “Remember to keep your back in an upright position and don’t let the front knee pass over the toes,” Heflin says.

Tone Your Upper Body 1: Tricep Dips

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Why they’re crucial: “Dancers tend to forget how important upper body strengthening is, but good posture and maintaining a neutral spine are important for the exceeding demands of dance and partnering—which isn’t just for boys anymore!” Heflin says.

How to do them: On the floor, position your hands shoulder-width apart behind you and scoot your butt forward with your legs bent and your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart.

Tone Your Upper Body 1: Tricep Dips

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Lift your body up as you straighten your arms, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows, and then slowly bend your elbows and lower your upper body toward the floor until your arms reach a 90-degree angle. Hover slightly above the ground and then push back up using your tricep muscles (not your legs or momentum!). Start with 12 reps

Tone Your Upper Body 2: Push-Ups

Why they’re crucial: You need upper body strength if you want beautiful port de bras. Plus, toned arms go great with camisole leotards!

How to do them: Start in plank pose and slowly lower your body until it’s a few inches above the ground.

Tone Your Upper Body 2: Push-Ups

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Then push back up while keeping your body in a straight line—and remember to breathe! Try to do 10 in a row.

Get Bendy: Hip Flexor Psoas Stretch

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Why it’s crucial: Yang recommends this lunge-like pose that adds mobility to tight, neglected hips.

How to do it: Begin in a low lunge position with your right leg forward and your left knee resting on the ground. Don’t let your right knee extend beyond your toes.

Get Bendy: Hip Flexor Psoas Stretch

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Raise your left arm overhead, breathe in, and as you exhale stretch your upper body to the right. You should feel a gentle opening in your left hip flexor. Hold for several breaths and then repeat on the opposite side. Do 3 reps total on each side.

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