Today I want to talk to you women about something that lots of us want to know, and that is:
How to get a dancer’s body.
I know that I speak for many women when I say that the long, lean physique of a dancer is something to be desired.
They have just the right amount of muscle tone without looking too manly or bulky, don’t they?
Yes, it’s true that some of it is just good genes.
I know I wasn’t blessed with long, graceful arms and legs, and have often wished I had been.
But even though I’ve got the bulky gene in my DNA, I’ve still managed to reshape my physique in a way that I am happy with, and you can do it too.
Ditch the Leg Press
Don’t get me wrong, traditional strength training exercises such as the squat and leg press certainly have their place when it comes to building strength in the lower body.
But these exercises are not going to give you the slim, toned lower body you are after.
Personally I don’t like what these particular exercises do to my thighs, so I use them sparingly. If I get carried away and do too many, all my pants get tight and it makes me wanna scream :(.
You know, I think it’s funny that most trainers will deny that traditional weight training causes any type of bulking in women.
They’ll sing you the same old song… “Women cannot build large, bulky muscles” and “Lifting weighs won’t make you bulky”.
blah, blah, blah!
If this were true, then why do so many women say that they don’t like the way they bulk up after they have been lifting weights at the gym?
Are all these women delusional?
I don’t think so.
Obviously a woman will never be the size of a man from lifting weights a few times a week. Duh!
But she can most certainly build muscle in a way that she doesn’t like.
Long, Lean, and Mean With Pilates
I’m sure you’ve heard that Pilates can give you long, lean muscles.
Your muscles won’t actually get longer, though.
And muscles themselves are lean tissue, so you can’t create a “leaner” muscle.
I think what people mean when they say this is that the muscles appear to be longer and less bulky than with traditional forms of weight training.
And this is definitely true.
Pilates trains your muscles in a different way and the results are most definitely distinguishable.
Traditional weight lifting causes an increase in the size of a muscle known as hypertrophy. This is what body builders want, not you or me.
Also, most people who do traditional forms of weight lifting do not take the time to stretch properly, and so they end up with a tight, shortened, more bulky looking muscle.
What Pilates does is it helps you build a longer-looking, less bulky muscle because you work your muscles in their lengthened state and then stretch them.
I like what Nicole Stuart, Pilates instructor to celebs had to say about the difference between Pilates and traditional weight lifting:
In Pilates you stretch the muscle to its full extension, then contract it. The difference with [using] weights is that you are using your muscles against the resistance of that weight you are holding. So while you’re lifting the weight you build and expand your muscle. You are adding a layer of muscle and reshaping.
This is why you get that “bulk” that you hate and if you’re like me, you end up looking stalky and/or short (or shortER, ack!).
The Workouts That Changed My Body
As I mentioned above, I have been able to alter my physique with the use of Pilates-inspired, ballet, and Barre workouts.
The Barre workouts are the ones that really had the biggest impact on my body, specifically The Bar Method and Physique 57.
I recently just purchased Ballet Beautiful: Total Body Workout, which was created by Mary Helen Bowers, Natalie Portman’s trainer for Black Swan. I wrote the first of a series of reviews for these DVDs, and you can read that here.
Here is a video of Mary Helen talking about the workout and how it can help you get a dancer’s body:
I had been doing The Bar Method workouts for no more than a couple of months and I got asked by two different people if I was a dancer.
I could not believe it. I thought, “Are you kidding me?!” I hadn’t even noticed the results yet. But apparently people were seeing something that I couldn’t.
Shortly after that, though I did start to notice a change in the way my jeans and skirts fit me. The tightness around my quads was gone and my legs were looking more slender and streamlined. I loved it!
It’s now been over two years and I like the way my clothes fit me a lot better. If you are trying to figure out how to get a dancers body, then I highly recommend you try barre workouts.
If you like Pilates, you’ll love these workouts, and you will be amazed at how quickly they will change your body.