Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Full Body Exercises for Samba Dance

Samba is a dance form that reflects the rich history and culture of Brazil. Although Samba requires overall body strength, it focuses particularly on your torso, legs and gluteal muscles. To become fit like a Brazilian Samba dancer, you need to concentrate on developing lower body and core strength. But this doesn't mean you can neglect your upper body. Arm and chest strengthening exercises can help you achieve the toned, firm upper body appearance of many Brazilian Samba dancers.
Arm and Chest Exercises
Although Samba relies heavily on your lower body, executing Samba dance moves also requires fluid, controlled arm movements. Toning your upper body by regularly practicing a variety of arm and chest exercises can help you become a more graceful, strong Samba dancer. The Samba arms exercise suggested by choreographer and dancer Helene Andreu in her book, "Dance, Movement and Nutrition," tones your arms and chest muscles, and helps you develop grace and poise. To perform this exercise, sway your arms from side to side, bringing your fingertips of one hand across your chest to touch your rib cage on the opposite side of your body as you rock your torso from front to back.
Core Exercises
Having a firm, toned core is crucial for being fit like a Brazilian Samba dancer. Passistas, the professional Brazilian Samba dancers during Carnival, an annual celebration held before Easter, wear midriff-exposing costumes that flaunt their flat, muscular abdominal area. Toning exercises specific to Samba include exercises that target your abs without the usual situps or crunches, such as performing basic yet exaggerated Samba moves to focus on your core and abdominal muscles. A basic Samba abdominal toning exercise, also used in such other dance forms as bellydance, is the rib cage isolation. You can perform this exercise by standing with your feet a hip-width apart and sliding your rib cage from side to side by engaging your abdominal muscles without moving your waist.
Leg Exercises
Samba works your entire leg, making it a good exercise for those who want to achieve strong, toned legs. Your legs are constantly moving, using your hamstrings, thighs and knees. Leg swings are a simple, yet effective, exercise used by many Samba dancers to help increase leg strength and flexibility, says Simply Samba, a London-based group of professional Samba dancers. To perform a leg swing, stand next to a chair, holding the edge with your left hand. Balance on your left leg and swing your right leg up as far as you can, from front to back, using controlled movements. Keep your leg slightly bent to avoid injuring your lower back and hamstrings.
Gluteal Exercises
Gluteal exercises focus on the large muscles of your buttocks, also known as the glutes. Brazilian fitness expert Leandro Carvalho developed his "Brazilian Butt Lift" workout to help tone and firm the glutes through a variety of Samba-inspired moves. Some of Carvalho's recommended gluteal-toning exercises resemble a type of jumping lunge and squats that incorporate leaps and jumps to help increase your metabolism while shaping and firming your glutes.

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