Salsa Benefits for Core Strength Conditioning

Discussion in 'Salser@s Anonymous' started by Sabrosura, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura ¡WEPA!

    So I decided to test (on myself) the idea that, if a dancer uses their core habitually when they dance by consistently keeping the core engaged, these muscles actually get stronger over time, even in the case of a dance with fairly low strength requirements like salsa (compared to other more physically strenuous dances) and even when the dancer only dances a relatively small amount of time (4-5 hours a week, not including classes).

    I decided that a very good test would be the abdominal plank, in which the muscle that does most of the work in order to stabilize your body (though of course other muscles are engaged) is the deepest core abdominal muscle, the Transversus abdominis. Here is a picture of what the plank position is and the muscles it works.



    I am the perfect test subject for this because I have probably done the plank for a total of less than 5 times in my entire life, the last one more than 2 years ago (I still remember the pain when someone is telling you to keep holding it while your muscles are all shaking...). Note that regular ab exercises (such as crunches) work the rectus abdominis--the six-pack muscles--not the core abs. I should note that I periodically (1/2 times a week) do kettlebell swings, usually one short set of 10-15 swings, and these do engage the core abdominal muscles to a certain degree, but the glutes and hip muscles are the main muscles engaged (if you're interested you can see all the muscles the kettlebell swing works here:

    Here is how you do the plank:
    Get into pushup position on the floor. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold the position for as long as you can without letting your hips drop or tilt upwards (because then your leg muscles are taking the load off your core muscles).

    So here are the statistics:
    • First-timers (which I pretty clearly qualify as :p) generally can't hold the plank more than 30 seconds
    • Below 30 seconds - needs work
    • 30-60 seconds - average
    • 60+ seconds - good
    So without further ado, my test result was: I was able to hold the plank for 60 seconds -- Q.E.D. :)

    If anyone else (who is not already a regular planker) wants to take this short test, I'd be curious to know other people's results. This can also probably serve as a basic indicator of whether you are engaging your core sufficiently when you are dancing.

    Now that I've done this, I am planning to continue planking every other day until my maximum time goes up to 90 seconds to see if this will make a difference in my dancing. I would expect improved core strength to improve body control/balance, but perhaps beyond a certain threshold of strength there are no further noticeable dance benefits.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2014
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  2. Ciaran Hegarty

    Ciaran Hegarty Descarga

    I can see how dynamically engaging your core muscles while dancing would improve your ability to hold a plank, but I wouldn't think that training a static hold beyond what you already have would be of much benefit going back the opposite way. Of course, I have absolutely no empirical evidence to support this, so I'll be curious to know your results.
  3. Winston

    Winston Descarga

    Ouh :mad:

    70 sec

    First time ever.

    But dancing 20 hrs a week incl lessons.
  4. Kading

    Kading Rhythm Deputy

    120 seconds and I stopped, could perhaps maintain it a bit longer.
    Though I was shaking a bit after 60 seconds (like, I could feel my body working to maintain form, I kept the form though.)

    Last time I did it was 4-5 years ago when I still did kickboxing.
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  5. wildbill20056

    wildbill20056 Sabor Ambassador

    Part of my core conditioning involves a Rotisserie workout:

    45 second superman (flat on ground, raisde chest and legs, arms out in front)
    45 seconds side plank, 45 second weighted crunches, 45 seconds side plank (other)
    45 second front plank.

    Weight them all as needed as it becomes too easy ;)
  6. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    We sometimes do front and side planks as a part of warmup on hobby BR standard classes I started attending recently. Norm is 90 s for front and 60 s for side planks
  7. Hexlibris

    Hexlibris Sonero

    Be sure that you are doing a plank correctly.
    Most of the times, beginners will be able to hold the plank longer since they are not engaging the abs directly, and just putting extra strain on your (mostly) lower back.
    Easy way to ensure if you are doing it correctly is just to squeeze the glutes together.
    Good read -

    Personally i'm from the same opinion as most of the calisthenics community. Crunches are bad, don't do them, mostly due to repetition and neck/back strain.
    If you want a stronger core, you have other more effective exercises. Try L-sits, leg raises (or hanging leg raises if you are more advanced), or go for the great ab-wheel (careful, you will feel the pain if you are not used to it :) ).

    Personal recommendation:

    These guys are amazing. You have professionals, book writers, and no marketing crap. One of the best resources for free in the all wide web interwebs.
    Great tutorials, and you dont need a gym for your own workouts.
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  8. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    So i did the boys version on arms not elbows 3min. Last 2 were hard. I remember first time seeing planks in training from pro dancer, choreographer. She made us do 90 seconds, but several variations in a row. Some of them where tough.
  9. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

  10. Hexlibris

    Hexlibris Sonero

    Smej that is correct. 3x60s will give you better results as 3x5mins, in the latter the difference is that you are working endurance instead of strength.

    Apologies for briefly derailing the thread, but as a rule of thumb, strength exercises should be 3x8 with 90s-180s of rest between sets. This should maximize strength gains, which is exactly what we are talking about here. After you are able to do 3x8 you should change for a harder variant of the same exercise.
    In terms of planking: stretched arms < on elbows < feet on raised surface < RKC plank (not a comprehensive guide, just to give an idea of difficulty levels)
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  11. wildbill20056

    wildbill20056 Sabor Ambassador

    Stretched arms (assuming we mean top of push up position) is actually easier on the core than elbows, given that it takes you closer to vertical. The only way to increase the difficulty of a plank in a way that keeps hitting the same groups you are targetting is to weight it ie stick a plate on your back/side.

    As for crunches, there's really nothing biomechanically wrong with them, assuming you adopt decent form, and work the abs and not your neck (this is why it's been >decade since common advice was hands stay away from the neck.) Ultimately you'll have to bring progressive overload in to really build abs, and picking up a cable crunch for example is a much easier path for this than adopting more and more advanced calisthenics, where your ability to work abs will be limited by your whole condition.
  12. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura ¡WEPA!

    So I don't know if it's the plank training or the recent "body tuning" I got by a skilled physiotherapist or the fact that I recently came back from a trip to the DR (=lots of bachata dancing=lots of core activation), or a combination of all of these, but at my last two nights of salsa (Abakua on Friday, LVG last night), I definitely broke all my own records for balance and movement control. :) Dancing at LVG felt freakin' awesome last night, and I kept throwing things at myself like suddenly slowing down/speeding up various movements/turns midway through just to see what would happen and my body executed everything so smoothly that I was shocked by my own level of balance and control lol :)

    Going to keep up the planking :)
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  13. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    How's it going with planks? I'm doing pilates for a month and it's really hard.
  14. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura ¡WEPA!

    In the last few months since I was dancing so hardcore I stopped doing planks, as my core seemed to be really strong from the almost daily dancing, as well as the regular kettlebell training I continued doing (40 kettlebell swings a few times a week).

    I took a picture of my abs a few weeks ago, not sure it's appropriate to post here :p, but I've been really happy with their condition, I don't think they've ever been so strong :)

    Now that I am not dancing as much, I will probably start doing planks again, especially when I leave for my big trip and won't be able to do kettlebell training anymore.
  15. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    I think if you cover them with some salsa, it would be ok.
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  16. SnowDancer

    SnowDancer Clave Commander

    I wonder if salsa is more of a benefit when you're following? Leading, for me, doesn't seem to engage the core that much unless I spin myself.

    One thing I've found in the last year is that weight training has improved my dancing more than anything else. It's much easier to maintain a good frame, and so there's less temptation to pull with my arms (which was a very bad habit of mine).
  17. Luke

    Luke Tumbao

    I think I've found the same thing. I've been lifting free weights and I've found the muscles in my trunk to be stronger now (presumably due to the extra stabilisation required).
  18. achilles007

    achilles007 Descarga

    Excellent link!
  19. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    Hexlibris, I want to thank you; you changed my life. It took me a year to start doing full recommended routine (mostly because I'm lazy and easy distractable), but now I'm doing it since March (2015) and it's working.
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  20. Hexlibris

    Hexlibris Sonero

    Of course it is :)
    I love that routine, even got myself gymnastic rings and i love it. Unfortunately i was dumb and while showing an horizontal pushing progression to a friend i fubared an elbow. Now already recovered and im starting to get into it again slowly.

    Either way, i'm glad you like it and you find it useful.
    Smejmoon likes this.

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