The Importance of Upper Body Strength in Social Dancing + Fitness Tips!

Photo Credit: Pop Sugar

A strong upper body is vital in Latin dance. You need strong shoulders, arms, and core to keep up with the upbeat music, lead your partner, and make breathtaking turns or dips! Dancing, in general, is a physically demanding activity, so you need to train specific muscle groups. This helps make dancing look effortless, smoother. A stronger upper body allows you to execute different dancing techniques properly.

Popular social dances like bachata, kizomba, zouk, or salsa require dynamic dances, which means several upper body muscles are used to achieve and maintain a strong frame. These muscle groups include: 

Pectoralis Majors: The Pectoralis Majors are the chest muscles comprised of the clavicular head and the sternocostal head. There's absolutely no need to build bigger pecs like a bodybuilder because dancers often have a slim, trim frame. That said, your pecs must be strong, so you can move with ease while dancing, lead or follow your dance partner, and execute arm movements smoothly. 

Abdominal Muscles: The abdominal muscles are comprised of the Rectus Abdominis and Transversus Abdominis, and collectively, they’re known as the core. Social dances like bachata and kizomba consist of body rolls, and your core gotta be strong and flexible enough to keep up!

Traps and Lats: Comprised of the Trapezius and Latissimus Dorsi muscles. The trapezius muscles connect the back of the neck to the shoulder blades, while the Latissimus Dorsi muscles connect the shoulder blades to the hips. If the traps and lats are strong, you're able to hold arm positions without fatigue. Shimmying the hips, raising the arms, or executing different arm styling engages the traps and lats.

Shoulder Muscles: Comprised of the Deltoids, Infraspinatus, and Teres muscles. This complex muscle group elevates the arms and shoulders while dancing. Although strong, the shoulder muscles are prone to injuries, especially if you've been lifting heavy objects. When training this muscle group, do not exceed the weight they can handle to avoid rotator cuff injury. 

5 Basic Upper Body Exercises to Try at Home

Standing Push-up 

Photo Credit: Health Line

An easy exercise that engages major muscle groups in the upper body for strength and flexibility. 

Stand up at an arm’s length from a wall. Place your hands flat against the wall and press the upper body gradually to the wall like a push-up. Go as low as you can for higher intensity, then push yourself forward to the starting position. Do two sets of 15. 


Photo Credit: Very Well Fit

If a standing pushup is not much of a challenge, then a classic pushup should give those upper body muscles a more intense workout. 

Start in a high plank position with the palms flat on the floor. The shoulders should be shoulder-width apart, stacked parallel to the wrist, and legs extended fully behind you. Slowly bend the elbows to press lower to the floor, keeping the core and glutes engaged. Push through the palms to straighten the arms to the starting position and repeat. Do a set of 10.

Tricep Dip

Photo Credit: Very Well Fit

An intense workout that uses your body weight to strengthen the shoulders. You will need a box, a step, or any kind of sturdy elevation to perform this exercise. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat. Behind you is the box. Place your hand on the box, slightly bend the knees, put your weight on the heel, and slowly lift yourself up and down, do not sit completely down. Do two sets of 10 reps.

Chest Press

Photo Credit: Very Well Fit

A workout that opens up and strengthens the chest muscles. You can use a pair of dumbbells or any weights as long as they are not too heavy. You can perform this workout while lying on the floor or a bench.

Lie down and hold the dumbbells or weights vertically above the head. Slowly drop the arms down until a couple of inches near the chest, then slowly lift the weights again. While moving the arms, engage the core and shoulders. Repeat and do 3 sets of 10.

Overhead Shoulder Press

Photo Credit: Get Healthy U

An oldie yet still a goodie, this is a terrific workout for the shoulders and arms. Best performed with a set of dumbbells. 

With a dumbbell on each hand, stand up straight with your feet about hip-width apart. Lift the shoulders up, keeping the palms facing out, and the elbows bent. This is the starting position. Next, lift the dumbbells overhead, gently straightening the elbows completely. Keep the core and glutes engaged during the press. Slowly bend the elbows back to lower the weight to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 10.

Isolation Exercises for the Upper Body

Upper Body Exercises for Latin Dancers

Basic Arm Exercises for Latin Dancing



Try any of these workouts to strengthen the upper body. Keeping fit is vital to better dancing and training the upper body helps achieve the perfect form.


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