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Ask Amy: How to Efficiently Improve Stamina

I'm consistently out of breath when I do petit allégro. Any suggestions on how to efficiently improve my stamina? —Kristin


There are some simple things you can do to improve your petit allégro stamina. According to Lauren McIntyre, ATC, athletic trainer and clinical specialist at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital, the key is to add both aerobic and anaerobic exercise to your regimen.

By aerobic, McIntyre means at least 20 minutes of steady cardio (such as the stationary bike, jogging or swimming) three to five times per week. It should get your blood pumping but still allow you to maintain a breathy conversation. "That will help increase your heart and lung efficiency," she says.

Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, is more like sprinting. "During petit allégro, your heart rate can get elevated very close to maximum capacity, and this mimics that." One example is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), focusing on short bursts of intense exercise. Tabata-style HIIT (20 seconds of vigorous activity followed by 10 seconds of rest over four minutes) is especially effective, and can be done with anything, like jumping jacks or squats.

One easy way to add aerobic and anaerobic components to your training is jumping rope. Try a Tabata-style HIIT workout for your anaerobic session, and then decrease your speed and maintain a steady rhythm for a more aerobic workout. Vary your jumps—skipping, two legs, single leg, double unders—to mimic different instances in choreography.

One last thought: "We often blame being tired on being out of shape," says McIntyre. "But overtraining can also result in fatigue. If you've already been regularly cross-training, you may need a day off!"

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

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