Why You’re Not Getting Stronger.
- Overworked? Active and actual rest drives better results…
- Not training correctly? It’s always a great idea to use platforms or teachers to continually assess and evolve your training.
- Not enough adaption. To evolve and grow, mix it up.
- Mindset is key! Work on your mindset as much as your muscles.
As dancers we’re constantly told to ‘push through pain’ and to fight past the point of exhaustion, because well.. that’s what happens on stage right? **eye roll**
But is this really the answer? Definitely not. If you push your muscles and your mind to their absolute limits too often, two things tend to happen. Neither of these two ‘fairy tale endings’ – injury or burn out – are optimal for your long-term improvement. In fact, they can be a setback we can struggle for many years to overcome, or in rare cases never fully recover from.
Your mind and your body are your most valuable (and incredible) instruments, and you must learn when they require rest and when they require maintenance (physio/massage/meditation/active rest for example) or simply a well-deserved break.
The beauty about taking a break from training is that you often come back stronger! So my resolute suggestion is that you make rest a foundational aspect of your training schedule. It’s equally as important as your actual training…!
Not training correctly
Everybody is different and learning what your body needs each day and in each workout is key. What works for one person (just like diet), may not work for you. So learn how to adapt and continually check-in with yourself to make sure your training is evolving. I tell all of my clients to use Train Like A Ballerina as a solid base – not sust because it’s our business, but because our team designed it for dancers to train like a beast and become their best self. To level up. That growth requires developing self-awareness, passion and drive (more on this later). But as we all know, those are some of the pillars of what makes a great dancer. For example, if you feel you have mastered a set of exercises, it’s the perfect test to revisit them at a later date and check you can execute them perfectly. Or even redo components of longer exercises in blocks to really nail them.
For those regular Train Like A Ballerina users – if you feel you need more of a rest in-between that’s why we added the pause function. We’ve also made sure you can create your schedule around areas where you know you need to focus more time and effort, and when you need more confidence, on areas where you know you’re are already strong. The goal for everyone in our growing community is to learn how to train for nobody else but you.
Not enough adaption
Our bodies require constant new stimulus in order to progress, to evolve. The requirement to push our boundaries (safely) is the number one reason I strongly believe all dancers should be practicing regular cross training. Simply focusing your time and efforts on ballet class, even doing so every single day, won’t be enough. Not if you want to become the best dancer you can be.
Our bodies become so used to conducting the same movements it becomes almost second nature. For those who want to know more, and are as science-obsessed as me, I recommend Googling ‘neural plasticity’ – our minds and bodies need challenges and constant growth to create positive reorganisation.
So if you feel you’ve plateaued and you’re not gaining skills, strength or conditioning, then mix up your exercise routine! Do a HIIT training instead of yoga, or a TLB flow or floor barre instead of ballet class. Mixing it up and pushing your boundaries in a measured way will almost always lead to increased strength and ability, whether you feel it immediately or not.
Mindset is something that seems to be completely pirouetted over in the dance industry, yet without the correct mindset nothing would be possible. The ballet world prizes repetition, pushing through pain, and constant effort, but what about the mindset we create and maintain through it all?
The greatest athletes are great not just because of their capacity and skills, but also because of their passion, perseverance and mentality. Important questions to ask yourself are (i) am I focusing my efforts properly, and (ii) am I training smart? For example, three truly challenging workouts a week is far more beneficial than five ‘half-assed’ ones. Practice not just your physical abilities but your mental capabilities as well. Discipline and mindset will take you far further than motivation ever will.
Whether your body is crying out for a break or your training schedule is in desperate need of adaption, only you can truly know this. So check-in with yourself, honestly. You can try seeking advice from every teacher, colleague or friend but ultimately the best advice anyone can give you is to tune in to your own body. Know when to rest, know when to push through and know when to switch up your training.
Now whoever says that this is easy, is flat out lying to you. Finding out what your body needs is incredibly challenging, it’s also a lifelong constant journey. It will be pathed with an abundance of brutal failures and unimaginable success, but isn’t that what makes it so gosh darn beautiful?