I am a dancer and have been dancing competitively since the age of four and will be going to New York for dance this coming September.

I am in pretty good shape but I feel like there is one layer of fat on my body that I need to get reduce to improve my muscle definition for aesthetic reasons.

I just started counting calories today, exercise about 4 times a week plus go to the gym every second day if possible. When I workout at the gym I do the Cybex Arc Trainer for 30 minutes on weight loss level 2. I find it a great machine to sweat like crazy on! Then i will do an ab workout for about 30 minutes, then butt and thighs for about 15 minutes.

Then the next day I workout on the Arc Trainer and then about a 45-1 hour arm workout but I feel like I am seeing little to no results and I've been dancing all year and just started the going to the gym in March.

I just want that one layer of fat covering my body to disappear. I eat poorly to good, however I am not consistent so if someone can please give me some tips and pointers it would be greatly appreciated.

  • 2
    Some fat is essential for life. One thing to be aware of is that dancers are one of the more susceptible populations for body dysmorphia, i.e. you see things in your body that simply aren't there. If you feel you are overweight, I would get an independent assessment done. Out of curiosity, what is your height/weight/age? – JohnP Jun 6 '13 at 20:00
  • I am 5 3 1/2 125 pds and 19 – Emily Jun 6 '13 at 22:14
  • I couldn't find the question, my eyes hurt… – Baarn Jun 6 '13 at 23:37
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    Emily, have you searched this site for information related to your question? The basis of what you are asking has been asked before so it would be a good idea to extract what you need out of the answers already available. – Matt Chan Jun 6 '13 at 23:39
  • 5 3 1/2 (1.61 m) and 125 pds (56 kg) is in a normal range for weight and height. – FredrikD Jun 7 '13 at 5:57

Rather than focus on weight loss, I'm going to focus on your goal of increasing muscle definition.

Firstly, I understand that as a dancer there are certain restrictions that come with how you can look. Managing your weight and figure require self-discipline, which means ensuring that you are eating right and working out right every day. This isn't to say eating very little, but eating what you need for your diet. As someone who weight-lifts, its not uncommon for me to be forced to eat more than I feel comfortable on some days to ensure I am getting what I need - and this isn't uncommon for many elite athletes, which we can include professional dancers in.

To increase muscle definition you can reduce fat or increase muscle mass. Doing both simultaneously is hard.

As mentioned, your height and weight is in the normal range, and losing too much weight (either muscle or fat) will become detrimental. So that leaves focusing on increasing muscle.

Cardio won't build muscle, its great for lots of reasons, but your dancing is probably enough too see the positive effects of cardiovascular exercise. Skipping your cardio gym sessions for something else will help with your goal.

Building muscle requires lifting things, and it won't make you 'bulky' or 'manly' and is necessary for definition. It will also help with your dancing - heavy pylometric exercises like power cleans and box jumps will do wonders for your vertical leap, great for dunking, but equally so for a Grand jeté. These will also build great muscle on your quads and thighs, and give you a great behind. While exercises like dips and pull-ups will give you definition in your arms but also give you the upper body strength and balance required for some of the more gymnastic moves.

In short, at your height and weight, focus less on losing fat, and more on building a strong functional muscle that looks great but also help put you ahead of the rest in your chosen career. Good Luck!

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  • +1 for this approach. Body weight exercises mentioned by Stormtroopr are the way to go Emily. Weight loss makes absolutely no sense for you. – anaheim Jun 17 '13 at 12:38

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