Lower Body Exercises For Better Leaps & Stronger Turns

Hey there FTT Family and welcome back to From The Top! If there are two things that a lot of  dancers strive for, it’s strong turns and awesome leaps. When it comes to technique tips for achieving this goal, we usually always hear the classic “engage your core” line. However, let’s talk about a target area that is of equal importance: the lower body! If you’re looking for strong, clean turns and nice, high leaps, the lower body is the less spoken golden ticket. In order to get off of the ground to have an extensive leap, you have to garner good momentum. Likewise,the only way to achieve multiple turns is by a good plie and a strong supporting leg. So, today we are going to be covering a few lower body exercise moves that will help you build up your leg strength and achieve this goal in the best way possible! Let’s get right into it!

For Turns

  1. Releves

Let us start out the list with the classic releves, shall we! Releves in terms of improving turns are really the greatest of all time! As we all know, you can’t execute a turn well without a nice, high releve, so why not use that same move to build up your strength? Aside from strengthening your ankles, releves target your quads, hamstrings and calves, all of which are engaged in your turns.I personally like to do 4 releves in first, 4 releves in coupe on the right, followed by 4 in coupe on the left once a day to maintain my strength, as well as to continue to build the strength in my legs for a nice strong supporting leg in all of my turns.

  1. Turn Preps

Let’s take it back to the basics! We all know the infamous turn preps that we have done across the floor during the beginning of our training. The purpose of which was to build muscle memory in order to execute a turn cleanly and practice proper body alignment. But did you know that this practice is still important to keep in rotation, even if you aren’t a beginner any more? Sometimes it’s not always the practice of the full execution of the moves that show us improvement, but the practice of the breakdown that strengthens our skillet. Doing turn preps across the floor not only helps you better your technique, but the repetition of the practice also aids in building the strength of the supporting leg as well. So, clear some space in your living room and turn on a good playlist. We’ve got some “prepping” to do!

  1. Balancing in coupe and passe

Working on your balance is not only wonderful for your ankle and core strength, but it is a magnificent way to build up the strength in your calves, quads and hamstrings. While balancing in any position is advantageous, working on solid balancing skills in passe and coupe (both turned out and in) work wonders for better turns. If you would like to add more of a challenge to your balancing, grab a bosu ball and take it to the next level!

For Leaps

  1. Jump Squats

Now without further ado, let’s get into leaps! Our first round pick for leaps are jump squats. When executing a leap of any kind, one of the most vital points is building momentum to get off the ground. It is within momentum that you will be allowed to soar through the air to reach a beautiful full out leap. Jump squats are perfect for this reason as it really (unintentionally) incorporates a “plie and jump” strategy into every rep. These will also build up your quadricep strength which is of the utmost importance in leaps. Make sure your knees are shoulder or hip width apart {depending on your personal preference}, begin and end with a nice “plie”, making sure to keep your knees behind your ankles. 

  1. Jump Lunges

Let’s keep things “jumpin’”, shall we? (I know, I know. How cheesy of me.)

Keeping in line with jump squats, next on our list are jump lunges. As you all may know, a jump lunge is where you start out first and foremost in a basic lunge, jump up and alternate legs, ending in a lunge each time. While this is not a huge momentum builder in the same way that jump squats are, they are still fantastic for your quads and hamstrings. This is a lunge times x10 and it really ups the ante on targeting these muscles in a major way. If you’re just beginning to incorporate them into your workout routine, just start out with one set of 15 reps. However, if this is not your first jump lunge rodeo, feel free to add on two to three sets of 15 reps. Once again, be sure to keep your knees behind your ankles in order to protect yourself from shin splints and other injuries. 

  1. Wall Sits 

Now, let’s move onto the exercise we loooovee to hate. Wall sits have to be one of the most used lower body exercises in dance classes everywhere. And while it may indeed be common, it is oh-so beneficial. The reason being is that it targets literally everything from the hips down. Since you are basically sitting in an imaginary chair with absolutely no support, this exercise targets your hips flexors, your quadriceps and your hamstrings all in one round. The catch, however, is just how long you stay in it. The length of time in which a wall sit is held is what determines how effective it will be in building your strength for your leaps. In order to see a decent amount of progress in your leaps with wall sits, you must stay in them anywhere between 40 seconds to 1 minute and add them into every leg day. It may seem like a slow form of torture, but the results are so worth it!

  1. Weighted Squats

Another classic on the list are weighted squats. Now regular squats without the weights do indeed work just as well when it comes to building lower body strength. However, there is nothing like a pair of free weights to up the challenge! While you may think that it takes 10-15 pound weights to build up your lower body strength, 5 to 8 pound weights are actually just as perfect of a fit. Just like we mentioned in jump squats, be sure to keep your back straight and your knees behind your ankles so that you will target your quads and hamstrings effectively!

Well, that will do it for this week’s blog post! We hope you found this post helpful and put these moves into practice to see that much more improvement in your leaps and turns. As always, we wish you a weekend filled with love, light and until our next blog post, remember…

Keep dancing!


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