The body’s core muscles–abdominals, back and gluteals–are the primary muscles used in all forms of dance. A strong core provides dancers with support and stability, allowing for graceful, fluid movements. Incorporating dance movements into your fitness routine will provide you with a challenging yet fun way to get a complete workout for your abdominal muscles.
Belly dancing sculpts almost every muscle in your core–even your transverse abdominals, which are deep inside, according to Rania Bossonis, author of “Belly Dancing for Fitness.” Belly dancing can be done at home with DVDs as guides, and many gyms, dance schools and recreational centers offer beginner or fitness-minded belly-dancing classes. Doing a few belly-dancing target moves, such as the rib slide, hip circles and belly roll, every day will tighten your core and give you a renewed femininity. To perform the rib slide, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your knees slightly bent. Keeping your hips still and your shoulders level, extend your torso to the right as far as you can go, then bring it back to center. Repeat this movement on the opposite side. The hip circle has the same principle as the rib slide. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and slowly circle your hips to the right, hitting the front, right, back, left and back to front, keeping your torso and shoulders perfectly still. A belly roll takes a bit of practice to execute properly. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and slowly engage the abdominal muscles from the top of the rib cage down to the pelvic area, creating a wave motion. Imagine your belly rolling from top to bottom and back up.
To jump, turn and hold movements, ballet requires a tremendous amount of core strength. Ballet dancers work their entire cores for stability and strength, giving their torsos a lean, long look. Some of the most basic ballet movements are the best for working the abs; plies, releves and arabesques done daily will strengthen, tone and flatten your stomach. The New York City Ballet Workout Manual suggests doing these basic movements 10 to 12 times for two to three sets.
Hip-hop dance engages the entire torso in a fast-paced, high-energy workout. There are many hip-hop DVDs to choose from, and a few of them specifically target the abdominals. Hip-hop fitness classes also are available at gyms, dance schools and recreation centers. From beginners to advanced dancers, hip-hop is an effective way to get “six-pack” abs fast. When doing hip-hop, make sure you keep you knees slightly bent throughout the class; never lock your knees. Keep your entire core engaged by pulling your belly button toward your tailbone; this helps keep stress off your lower back.
About this Author
Based in Malibu, Calif., Shannon Sukovaty has been writing health-related articles since 1992. Her articles have appeared in “Colorado Health” magazine, “Health and Fitness Journal” magazine, eHow, Associated Content, Word Press and other prominent websites. Sukovaty is a certified personal trainer with undergraduate studies in exercise physiology and credentials from IDEA, ACSM, AFAA and IPPA.