How to Strengthen Your Legs for Dance Leaps
Whether you're a performer or you just love to dance for recreation, having stronger legs means you'll be able to leap longer, higher and with more grace.
Resistance exercises strengthen your quadriceps and hamstrings, including squats and lunges, but plyometrics — that is, explosive movements that aim to build both strength and power — gives your legs an even bigger jump start.
1. Tuck Jump
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and raise your arms over your head. Bend your knees and lower your butt down into a low plie as you lower your arms to your sides in a circular motion, stopping when they're slightly behind your torso. Tighten your abdominals.
Burst upward into a tuck jump by forcing your knees toward your chest and moving your hands in front of your face. Hands are fisted and elbows bent. Land and immediately get into the starting position. Repeat the tuck jump again and again for 15 to 20 seconds.
2. High Skips
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Bend and raise one knee as you bend and raise the opposite elbow, forcing your body upward and your knee as high as possible into a skip-jump.
Move the opposite knee and arm upward in the same motion as soon as the first foot lands on the floor. Aim to raise your knee as high as possible during each upward motion. Skip in this high-knee fashion for 20 seconds, take a short break, and then do a second set.
3. Box Jumps
Place three or four wooden boxes, about 12 to 18 inches high, about 2 feet apart in a line. Stand facing the first box with your arms at your sides. Swing your arms upward as you bend your knees and jump up onto the first box.
Jump down from the first box and bend your knees to soften the landing. As soon as you land, immediately jump onto the second box. Continue jumping onto each box, and then turn around and face the boxes from the opposite side.
Jump completely over the boxes instead of landing on top of them this time. Then take a short break and do a second set of each type of box jump.
Do each of these exercises one or two days a week, with at least one day in between sessions.