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Training Demands and Physiological Profile of Cross-Disciplined Collegiate Female Dancers

Sanders, David J.1; Walker, Alan J.1; Prior, Kevin E.1; Poyssick, Anthony N.1; Arent, Shawn M.1,2

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 15, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003107
Original Research: PDF Only

Sanders, DJ, Walker, AJ, Prior, KE, Poyssick, AN, and Arent, SM. Training demands and physiological profile of cross-disciplined collegiate female dancers. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2019—Little is known about the physical demands of high-level dance training. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the physiological demands of a typical ballet and modern class through training load (TL) and to assess differences in TL between the 2 class types. In addition, a physiological profile of cross-disciplined collegiate female dancers was determined. Seventeen college-aged female dancers were recruited and performed a battery of performance tests assessing body fat (%BF), lean body mass, vertical jump (VJ), peak power, maximal oxygen consumption (V[Combining Dot Above]O2max), and ventilatory threshold (VT). Two ballet and modern dance classes were monitored for TL and exercise energy expenditure (EEE) using the Polar Team2 Pro System. Performance testing results were as follows: M%BF = 24.1 ± 4.2%, MLBM = 46.8 ± 8.5 kg, MV[Combining Dot Above]O2max = 42.9 ± 4.3 ml·kg−1·min−1, MVT = 76.2 ± 6.5% of V[Combining Dot Above]O2max, MVJ = 44.1 ± 1.4 cm, and MPP = 519.1 ± 177.5 W. Training load of 41.0 ± 17.0 for ballet and 44.8 ± 27.4 for modern dance was found, with an EEE of 394.0 ± 111.9 and 421.9 ± 161.4 kcal, respectively. Time spent at or above VT was 1.2 ± 2.6 minutes in ballet and 3.4 ± 8.3 minutes in modern. Compared with other female power-endurance athletes, the dancers accumulated a much lower TL during both class types. Low TL may inhibit typical adaptations seen in other athletes, which may explain why dancers in this study had lower aerobic and anaerobic capacities and higher body fat percentage than other collegiate female athletes. Also, it suggests that supplemental conditioning could be incorporated into a dancers training paradigm to optimize performance.

1IFNH Center for Health and Human Performance (CHHP), Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey; and

2Department of Kinesiology and Health, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Address correspondence to Dr. Shawn M. Arent,

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.