In order to make improvements in your body, you must constantly challenge it, with a proper formula, of course. Do too much and you risk the detrimental effects of overtraining and burnout. Do too little and your body won’t have a sufficient stimulus to adapt to and will stay at its comfortable place (homeostatic baseline…for all of you science buffs;). The sweet spot lies in doing just the right amount of work to create a supercompensation effect.
What is this supercompensation? You can think of it as a 4 part process. Part 1 is the training or workout that challenges your body and causes fatigue. With the right amount of stress, your muscles actually incur micro tears during this stage, and you become momentarily weaker. Part 2 involves your body recovering from this damaged state and returning to its pre-workout condition. Part 3 entails your body reconstructing itself even stronger than its normal state in order to adapt to the added stimulus inflicted on it (hence the "super" in supercompensation). And part 4 involves your body losing this added strength and returning to its pre-workout fitness level if another sufficient stimulus (workout) isn’t applied in a certain time frame.
How does this apply to dancers? Most of us train in the traditional bunhead way – by taking class day after day. This keeps you conditioned and improving to a certain point, but what happens when your progress has halted and your art feels stale? The traditional approach is to add more classes to your routine. This gets you improvements for a while, but once your body adapts to the added demands, you reach a stalemate again (part 4 of supercompensation effect). So, you add even more classes on top of that…and the cycle continues. With this traditional bunhead training method, the only way to ensure continual progress is by adding more and more time spent training.
But, eventually you run out of time, and your body gets burned out from the constant stress being inflicted on it without any chance to recover (the necessary parts 2 and 3 of the supercompensation process). And so, you either get stuck at the level you are at as a dancer, or you push your body out of disregard and wind up with niggling repetitive motion injuries or worse, a catastrophic injury that could be career-threatening.
When your “time” spent training is the only variable used to create progression, your progress winds up being limited. Time itself is one of our most precious resources; one we can’t ever get any more of. We all have a finite amount of it. Most of us with a passion for ballet don’t mind spending so much time in the classroom. But what happens when you start to get curious about life outside of the ballet world and realize you don’t want to spend all your time training when there are all these other things to explore and take pleasure in? Or, what happens when you don’t have anymore time or energy to add more classes? Is your dance career and progress doomed at that point? How do you expect to improve your game if you don’t have anymore resources to devote to class?
The Bad Girl Ballerina has a solution. She uses Bulletproof Ballerina workouts to continue growing as a dancer. The beauty about these ballet-based cross-training workouts is that time (a.k.a. frequency of training) isn't the only variable that leads to improvements. We create a supercompensation effect by varying intensity. With each workout, you increase your intensity either by the weight load, amount of reps, or volume (total work). By looking at a simple progress chart, you should be able to see an upward trend in your abilities by observing a quantifiable difference in at least one of these indicators. In other words, you work harder each time you train but spend less time actually training.
The short nature of these workouts (BB Personal Training is only 30 minutes and the BB On Demand programs are 20- 45 minutes) saves you precious time as it is. Combine that with the fact that you only need to train twice a week and that you are required to take a “rest day” after each workout, and you are suddenly given the gift of tons of time (and money saved on classes!)! Letting you in on a little secret about my personal training routine, I typically do two 30-minute Bulletproof Ballerina workouts per week along with my rehearsal schedule (3-4 days per week) to keep myself on my game. I might take a ballet class or two if I’m in the mood, but I never feel obligated to. The rest of my time is spent growing my “self,” learning, experiencing, exploring, and seeking pleasure;)
I'm not saying never to take class again, or that class doesn't have its benefits. What I am saying is that if you are looking for a warp zone to get to your next level rather than spinning your wheels with your current crushing schedule, try replacing class with Bulletproof Ballerina workouts a couple days per week. Then, do your body a favor by giving it (*gasp*) a day off so it can recover and build back stronger (remember parts 2 and 3 of our supercompensation thing?). Like it or not, this is science, and it's how your body functions. You can either choose to ignore it and keep trudging along at a snail's pace of improvements, or you can try something new and see what happens. You have nothing to lose...except time.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become." - Steve Jobs