Dancer Health
Sebastian Grubb runs Sebastian's Functional Fitness in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Grubb

Fitness trainer, professional dancer and cross-training expert Sebastian Grubb weighs in on why it's essential for dancers to build their upper-body strength.

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Dance News

In our June issue’s Health column we share some exercises for your best upper body.

Once students are properly aligned and ready to begin strength training, our experts recommend exercises for stability, then strength. They use small, subtle movements to develop overall stability in the upper body. Note: It is important to do each exercise gently and slowly. If you try to push too hard or fast, you could start engaging the wrong muscle groups.

Try this shoulder press to engage the stabilizing muscles in your shoulders and back.

Shoulder Press

  1. Sitting on a chair, bed or the floor, place a yoga ball next to you, right beside your body (on a separate chair or on the floor). A 65-centimeter ball should be about the right height.

  1. Extend your arm 90 degrees to the side to rest it on top of the ball, keeping your arm straight.

  1. Gently press down on the ball for a count of four, then release.

It’s important to maintain the proper placement used in the stabilizing exercises during regular upper-body workouts. When flattening the scapulae against your back, be careful not to round the spine. Keep it neutral, and think of wrapping the shoulder blades around the ribs. You want to spread the scapulae away from one another, not flex the thoracic spine.

Photo by Emily Giacalone; modeled by Nicole Buggé

For more advice and exercises, get the June issue.

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