The Ultimate Dance Warm Up

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Here's your complete guide to the dance warm up.  You'll be on fire after this lot.

All dance moves benefit from you being warmed up.

You want to aim for feeling warm enough to shed additional layers of clothing so that your movements aren't restricted by yards of fleecy fabric.

Go for very slightly out of breath and just beginning to sweat slightly. 

As a beginner, if you completely 'go for the burn' in your warm up, you might not yet have the stamina to complete a whole dance glass.  So you've got to get your muscles nicely warmed up whilst leaving most of the fuel in your tank, so to speak.

Here you can pick which type of warm up suits you the best, you've got four to choose from.

The Modern Dance Workout Warm Up

The first clip shows Alexx getting her Modern dance class of beginners warmed up before the dancing starts.

It starts off with some gentle moves, but don't be fooled - this really does get the blood pumping and uses the whole body in simple, fluid movements that don't require a lot of space.

This approach concentrates a lot on your back, as moving this properly and getting it warmed up is your best chance of avoiding any strains or injuries later.

It also addresses balance which is always a good indicator of how ready to dance you are.  Can you balance well?  Are you feeling centered?

As you'll see, this isn't your usual boring round of stretches, rather it's using the whole body to release the spine and get the blood pumping.

It's far more appropriate for a dance lesson than traditional gym stretches and static poses. This is dynamic and involving and you can really feel it taking effect.

And it encourages you to think about your breathing.  You'll hear Alexx say "…breathing all the way through the body…", which reminds you to take lovely deep breaths.

The warm up moves build to a routine of poses, one flowing easily into the next.  If you can memorize this (it's kinda like the dance version of the Sun salutation from yoga) then you can easily do this before any dance class.

And any class that you start feeling more balanced and centered will always bring out the very best in your dancing.


Do this calmly and quietly and really feel your body waking up and getting ready to dance.

Ballet Warm Up

Is there such a thing as a ballet warm up?  Yes and no. 

Yes, because getting your body warmed up for the demanding moves of Ballet is crucially important, so Ballet dancers do it thoroughly. 

And no, because it doesn't look like a warm up and it isn't called a warm up.

In fact, the whole time a dancer spends at the barre is the Ballet warm up.  It's done in such detail and with very set, choreographed moves, so it differs a great deal from workout warm ups, but it's one of the most thorough warm ups you'll get (matched only in intensity by the infamous Jazz warm up). 

So if you want to get a taste of a Ballet warm up, you can try some of our Ballet barre steps here

But if you'd like to see how a Ballet for adult beginners class starts, then the clip below is a little 'pre-warm up' from Deborah who has some great tips to pass along to her new pupils about balance and also gets them to do a really effective feet strengthening exercise that you can join in with.

Salsa Dance Warm Up

You don't often get a warm up in Salsa classes so we've provided one for you here.

The small, simple moves are easy to remember so that you can do them yourself before your class starts (if your teacher doesn't include a warm up).
This is as much warming up your rhythm as it is warming up your body - it gets you used to the tempo of the music and gets you thoroughly in the mood for your dancing. 

Salsa dancing at the complete beginners stage doesn't really exercise the whole body.  It tends to concentrate on the legs - particularly the lower legs - and in that respect, it's as good for your legs as a step aerobics lesson, just much more fun.

Hip Hop Street Dance Warm Up

Here's a great, traditional stretching dance warm up that works the whole body, a little at a time.  This concentrates on deep stretching and feels brilliant. 

Note how Lil'J repeatedly reminds her class not the bounce the stretches - even though it is tempting. 

Stretch exactly to the full point of the stretch - your muscle should feel warm, not burning hot or tingly. 

And of course, do each stretch slowly and thoroughly - don't rush through this or you just won't feel the most effect.

The Right Dance Warm Up For You

How did you get on?  Do you have a favorite?  Warming up properly shouldn't be a chore at the start of your class, it should get your body ready for dancing and should get you in the right mood, too.

Taking the time to find a warm up that feels right will pay off.  You'll feel more comfortable when you're dancing and your dance moves will improve because of that.

If you'd like to go into more detail about preparing your body for dancing, have a look at our posture check.

But if you're feeling ready to dance, try this simple routine for arms next...

› Dance warm up