Move Like Jagger: 3 Dance-Inspired Exercises for Cardio & Strength


Betty Cunningham

Cardio Dance, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to improve your cardiovascular endurance while simultaneously working multiple muscle groups and keeping your body and mind constantly challenged. Dancing improves your brainpower, your outlook and your overall fitness level.

The constant flow of mood-improving chemicals released in a dance class means that “getting your groove on” can elevate your mental state and slay depression. Dancing also gives the memory and coordination areas of the brain a real workout leading to stronger synapses and toned up grey matter.

Also, incorporated into Dance Fit and Zumba are plyometric exercises that train your body anaerobically, working the fast muscle twitch fibers and therefore improving muscular strength.  In my classes we work aerobically to improve cardio endurance and anaerobically to improve muscular strength. Plyometrics improve your bone density too!

You don’t have to be able to move like Jagger to reap the health benefits of dancing. The more time you spend on the dance floor, front row or back row, the more time you’re training your brain to send out those endorphins! So what are waiting for — let’s dance!

All of these exercises are generally incorporated into a cardio dance work out and can be performed as a group one after the other. Repeat the group for three sets of each exercise.

Exercise 1: Plié Heel Clicks

plie heel kicks

This exercise is a plyometric explosive movement that works the inner and outer thigh muscles, the quadriceps and glutes and of course sends your heart rate through the roof!

  • Starting Position: Stand with your feet spaced slightly wider than shoulder width with your toes pointing slightly outwards. Lower yourself into a sitting position. Your thighs should be as parallel to the floor as you can manage.
  • Push off the balls of your feet, jump and bring your heels together while airborne. 
  • Ending Position: Land softly on the balls of your feet lowering the heels to the ground

Complete 3 sets of 8.

Exercise 2: Standing Leg Lifts

standing leg lifts

Standing leg lifts work your inner thighs, (adductors), core and the supporting quadriceps. This exercise also strengthens and lengthens the hamstring.

  • Starting Position: Stand with one knee slightly bent and the other leg extended in front of you, pointing the toe. Rotate the toe slightly out and hold the extended leg at least two inches off the floor.
  • Slowly lift the leg to your maximum height and then lower the leg with control to the ground without letting the lifting leg touch the ground.
  • You can add small hand weights to engage the upper body.

Complete 8 lifts on the right leg and 8 lifts on the left leg. Repeat 3 times.

Exercise 3: Mini Ball Thigh Burner

miniball thigh burner

This exercise strengthens the quadriceps and engages the core and the glutes.

  • Starting Position: Place a miniball high between the inner thighs. Stand beside a bar or wall and place one hand on the bar/wall for support. Raise your heels as high as possible off the ground and stand on your toes with feet about 4 inches apart.
  • Slowly lower your body down, keeping the tailbone tucked under until your thighs are parallel to the gound. Slowly raise up to starting position and keep squeezing the ball.

Complete 3 sets of 8.

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