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The weather is finally warming up, which means it’s time to ditch the puffer jacket for tops that show off your power arms.
So, we thought we’d ask The Australian Ballet to share the ultimate upper body workout that will get you those arms of your dreams without making you look like a buff macho man from the gym.
In preparation for the company’s brand-new ballet Sylvia, the leading dancers have being tackling a new challenge of fighting with a (real) sword, wielding a bow, dancing beautifully en pointe, looking delicate and feminine – all whilst fighting their enemies. As such, sword fighting is not an everyday activity in the world of ballet.
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That’s where The Australian Ballet’s artistic health team step in to make sure the dancers are strong and prepared, in a safe way, to take on the additional upper body work required.
Here are a few exercises to add to your next workout that will get you those lean and toned summer arms.
Exercise 1 – Upper trapezius endurance
This exercise is for middle and upper trapezius endurance. Contrary to popular belief dancers don’t always pull their shoulders back and down. The trapezius muscles need to have good endurance to support your arms and neck. To perform this exercise, gently shrug your shoulder against a resistance band +/- a small weight. Slowly build to 20 repetitions of 5 second holds.
Exercise 2 – Lateral Raises
To improve the middle deltoid muscle strength. Starting with your arms next to your body, bend your elbows to create a 90 degree angle. Raise your arms to shoulder height and lower back down. 4 sets of 6 repetitions.
Exercise 3 – Bent over row
To improve the posterior deltoid muscle strength. To begin, lean forward +/- the support of a bench to maintain your balance. Start with your arm straight, weight in hand. Lift the weight in a rowing motion alongside your body to the position shown in image; slowly lower to the starting position. 4 sets of 6 repetitions.
Exercise 4 – Rotator cuff (external rotators)
This exercise uses the small stability muscles at the back of the shoulder joint and is designed to help protect and support the shoulder joint. Using a resistance band, start with your arm by your side, elbow bent to 90 degrees. Keeping your elbow in the same position, slowly rotate your forearm outwards to the position shown before returning to the start position. Aim for 20 x slow controlled repetitions.
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Exercise 5 – Bow and arrow thoracic spine mobility
This exercise is to ensure you have adequate mobility in your thoracic spine (middle of your back). Start with your arms on top of each other, lying on your side. Draw your top arm across your chest as if you were drawing back an arrow, then unfold the elbow to the open position as shown in images. Return to the starting position. 10 times each side.
Melbourne: 31 August – 10 September, Arts Centre Melbourne
Sydney: 8 – 23 November, Sydney Opera House
Bookings via australianballet.com.au.