Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Managing your training

One thing almost everyone working within the area of dance science will push is supplemental training. I bang on about it constantly. It's important as exclusive dance-only training does not adequately prepare the body for the demands of performance. Class provides the training for technique and artistry, however for the required athleticism, you need to train your body in a range of areas so that when it comes to performance you are not only physically equipped to perform the choreography and therefore less likely to get injured, but you are also able to perform at your best.

Finding the time for this can be problematic. If you are lucky enough to be employed by a company that provides additional physical training you're in a very fortunate minority. For those who aren't, finding clear cut time for supplemental training can be difficult. For dance students, there is often the need to juggle practical training with course theory and part-time employment; for freelancers their is the balancing of rehearsal, performance, class and other employment, if you're working in an area such as hospitality to supplement your income your hours are erratic at the best of times and for those employed by companies full-time who do not receive supplemental training, it can be difficult to commit yourself to further training outside of the hours spent within in-company training. Out with all of that, you need to be careful not to overwork yourself.

Owing to the fact that you're going to have a limited amount of time to commit to this, and you probably still want to have a life outside of dance, you need to be smart about your training. Think it through, plan it, make sure it's manageable. Training shouldn't have to take over your life, it should supplement what you're doing, make you stronger and fitter and more able to take what is thrown at you in dance.

Jump higher, move faster, be safer.
As a general rule, you want to train something 3 times a week to see improvements, and just once a week to maintain your current level. If you organise your training well, you shouldn't have to spend anymore that 30-45 mins per session; leave a day between your sessions; commit yourself for 3 months and you should see a marked improvement. Whether it's your cardiovascular fitness, strength, power, or whatever else you want to focus on, you can make significant gains without an enormous time commitment if you're smart about it. If you show up to the gym and amble through a workout you've not thought through, you're unlikely to make progress and likely to waste a significant amount of your time.

Focus on one area at a time. Stick it out for at least 6 weeks if you're limited in your time-scale, but ideally you're looking at 12. Work out how you're going to go about it, what do you need, where you need to be when. The key to making supplemental training work for you is planning; once you've made a plan, the headache should be taken out of it; as long as you've allocated yourself adequate time each week you should be able to get on with it without a huge time or financial commitment. Improving various areas of your fitness can have a huge impact on not only your dance performance, but also in decreasing your likelihood of getting injured due to physical unpreparedness for choreography.

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