With Blackpool Dance Festival kicking off this week and a slew of WDSF competitions already going underway, it’s dancesport competition season!
Imagine this, you’re preparing for 5 different dances and despite nitpicking the technical parts of dancing (steps, routine, limb positions, etc…), and after 2 dances, you’re already out of breath.
This is the case of lack of stamina.
Running low on stamina is a dangerous position to be in because while you might already have good technical skills, not being able to continue the competition due to fatigue is always disheartening.
Why increase your stamina?
Anything can happen on competition day because the dynamics are different to practice sessions; you might get run into by other competitors, the DJ is probably playing music you dislike, the floors are slippery…it is crucial that your stamina must rise above the basic minimum so that you’ll have the energy to take on everything that’s thrown into you. Not only that, because you’ll be pushing yourself during the heats, your energy output will increase much more than your normal capacity, leaving you further fatigued than usual.
Stamina will not only increase your endurance ability, but it will also help you face potential energy draining issues.
So how do you increase your stamina?
1. Schedule running into your training and measure that heart rate.
Recently (during the last month), I’ve been scheduling regular twice to thrice weekly treadmill running sessions as an addition to my dance training. While many people scoff at the idea of running indoors on a treadmill, the benefit is that you can control your pacing and incline, which is much more important than enjoying the scenery when your primary intention is to focus on measuring your stamina.
As highlighted by Joel Minden’s article on the energy levels of dancesport competitors, because competitive dancing is much more performance based, you’ll want to focus more attention on high intensity stamina bursts (energy similar to running sprints). This means to deliberately train your body to be able to handle energy levels that require your heart rate to be able to maintain 70% maximum capacity and shoot for 80% for 2 minute intervals.
But how much running is required to obtain results? 20-30 minutes of interval training per session is enough. Anything under and you’re not working your muscles hard enough. Overtime, and you will be potentially straining your muscles from over training. For a sample running interval workout to work your stamina, Minden has also provided a guideline more specific for competitive dancers as reference.
How about calculating that maximum heart rate and what is the target range?
The basic formula is: 220 – your age = your maximum heart rate
Multiply the maximum heart rate by 0.7 and you’ll get the 70% range. Of course, there are arguments and variations on calculating the maximum rate, but the basic formula calculation is good enough to gauge your target.
Today, there are plenty of ways which you can measure heart rate. If FitBits are too pricy for your budget, treadmills usually come with a built-in heart rate sensor, and there are free apps such as Instant Heart Rate by Azumio Inc. that are available for both Android and iPhone.
2. Practice dancing at several full rounds in a simulated environment.
In Joao Capela’s recent blog entry about preparing for Blackpool, he highlighted a point of training as though you’re dancing for the finals (5 dances per round). This is of much importance as you will want to potentially dance extra rounds in any competition.
As for simulated environments, aside from dancing to competitive music and in the order the dances you’ll be dancing to in the competition, dance to 1:45-2:00 minutes (which is the standard cut-off time during a heat) and include 15 second intervals between dances as if you’re dancing for the finals. Dancing to several “final” rounds will be a good gauging system to measuring your dance stamina while preparing for your competition.
3. Dance with maximum stamina each time.
This is an important case here. Unless your name is one of the current top champions, the judges will not give you the priority ticket to the next round. In your dance studio, you might be the best student in the class. But when you’re in a high profile competition, nobody will know your face (let alone the judges). Therefore, it is crucial to use and train that stamina to dance your best dance as if it were your last for each round, because it could be the very thing that can lead you to the next round.
Perhaps you may be easily out of breath now, but stamina is definitely a variable that can be trained and increased in the long run. With adequate preparation in building up your stamina capacity, you’ll certainly be able to push yourself harder in the long run!
Image source: Ailura