T Nation

Ballet - Achieving Monstrous Ankle Strength


#1

Hi!

Beginner male ballet dancer here.
To make a long story short I need monstrous ankle strength to go from here:

to here:

with hopes of finally ending at here:

The teacher told me it would take on average 3-4 years of "releves" and "eleves" using just my bodyweight to build up the appropriate amount of ankle strength in order to do the above. The "eleve", is nothing more than a simple standing calf raise, and the "releve", is a bending of the knees before springing up into the standing calf raise.

Bodyweight is a waste of time. I need weights. And heavy ones. Strength training was because it IS more efficient in building strength compared to calisthenics. If my conclusion is correct then those who have been training their calves via weights should have the strength to stand pretty high up on their toes, similar to a ballet dancer as they are both utilizing the same movement and muscles.

My question(s) are: Does anyone think the conclusion I am coming to is a flawed one? Also anyone with any experience with calf raises want to weigh in on ankle strength gains they made and how high up they can stand on their toes?

Thanks all!


#2

The three pictures earlier up aren’t showing. Here they are again in order.

First picture (“To make a long story short I need monstrous ankle strength to go from here”:slight_smile:


#3

Second one (“to here”:)[quote]achilles007 wrote:
The three pictures earlier up aren’t showing. Here they are again in order: [/quote]


#4

Last one… (“with hopes of finally ending at here”)

[quote]achilles007 wrote:
The three pictures earlier up aren’t showing. Here they are again in order: [/quote]


#5

Calling you ignorant would be an understatement.

You need to understand that getting big bodybuilder calves and having the foot strength of a ballet dancer are not the same at all. Standing on your toes, literally, requires a lot of strength in tiny stabiliser muscles - and also a lot of tendon strength unless you want to injure yourself and then rehab for six months. Sounds like fun, right? Tendon strength, however, takes a lot of time to develop.

Your teachers know way more about this than anyone on this forum, and definitely more than you. What makes you think that when they tell you it takes time to make the body adapt to this, you will find a better way? Typical newb arrogance, sorry for calling it what it is.

TL;DR Do what your teachers tell you, they know their stuff.


#6

wouldnt it just come down to balance and how much strength your toe joints have lol. I don’t see standing on your toes having much relevance to calf strength but that’s just my understanding.


#7

looks like mobility plays just as big of a role in the last one.


#8

I don’t know anyone aside from actual ballet artistes that can hold that 3rd position without weeping like a little girl.


#9

[quote]achilles007 wrote:
Bodyweight is a waste of time. I need weights. And heavy ones.[/quote]
Yes. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that the best ballet dancers spend hours and hours each week in the gym lifting heavy, not practicing their art.

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
Do what your teachers tell you, they know their stuff.[/quote]
/thread.


#10

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
Calling you ignorant would be an understatement.

You need to understand that getting big bodybuilder calves and having the foot strength of a ballet dancer are not the same at all. Standing on your toes, literally, requires a lot of strength in tiny stabiliser muscles - and also a lot of tendon strength unless you want to injure yourself and then rehab for six months. Sounds like fun, right? Tendon strength, however, takes a lot of time to develop.

Your teachers know way more about this than anyone on this forum, and definitely more than you. What makes you think that when they tell you it takes time to make the body adapt to this, you will find a better way? Typical newb arrogance, sorry for calling it what it is.

TL;DR Do what your teachers tell you, they know their stuff.[/quote]

1.) Nowhere in my post did I imply that I was looking for “big bodybuilder calves”. Bodybuilding aesthetics have nothing to do with the “strength” I said that I am looking for. Read carefully next time.

2.) Deadlifts, Power cleans, Squats, Plyometrics, and Good Mornings are all activities recommended to sport athletes such as track runners, football, baseball, and soccer players in gaining strength to aid their movement. This is an agreed upon, established and respected performance aspect in the sports world with hardly anyone yelping about “arrogant newbz”. So why with Ballet? How is strength resistance training not be applicable here?

3.) I have already talked to my teachers about what to do at home in between classes. Do you know what they recommended? They recommended the popular ballet theraband exercises and the ballet footstretcher. Want an example of how bad the misinformation of the dance world is? These exercises, contrary to what is recommended, do not help in giving strength to ballet dancers, instead what they DO help in, is in giving them nice batches of onset achilles tendinitis. I know this because it almost became onset in BOTH of my ankles.

Thanks!


#11

[quote]Massthetics wrote:
wouldnt it just come down to balance and how much strength your toe joints have lol. I don’t see standing on your toes having much relevance to calf strength but that’s just my understanding.[/quote]

That is what I am wondering too.

But if you look at a typical pre-pointe syllabus, the class that you do before you actually go en pointe-- the majority of their exercise comes from doing constant releves.


#12

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:
looks like mobility plays just as big of a role in the last one.[/quote]

I agree.

Which is why I am continuing with the ballet training. Tendus are an absolute must in order to continue developing the mobility of the front of the ankle.

But strength gains?? The ballet world is still very much behind. There’s no reason to reject weight lifting when the whole SPORTS WORLD has embraced it and shown how it has IMPROVED the quality of their players. No one here would argue against that premise.


#13

[quote]dt79 wrote:
I don’t know anyone aside from actual ballet artistes that can hold that 3rd position without weeping like a little girl.[/quote]

Most ballet dancers can’t do so without pointe shoes.

The theory lies in the second photo.


#14

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]achilles007 wrote:
Bodyweight is a waste of time. I need weights. And heavy ones.[/quote]
Yes. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that the best ballet dancers spend hours and hours each week in the gym lifting heavy, not practicing their art.

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
Do what your teachers tell you, they know their stuff.[/quote]
/thread.[/quote]

An awkward Arnold in grand plie in first position?? Really? You think this photo is applicable here?

In simple laymen’s terms… a plie-- whether it be demi or a grand plie-- is essentially a squat with the knees directly over one’s toes, with direct emphasis on the inner thighs in contrast to weightlifting squats. This has nothing to do with showcasing off peak performance in one’s ankles.

A squat =/= A calf raise.


#15

[quote]achilles007 wrote:
An awkward Arnold in grand plie in first position?? Really? You think this photo is applicable here?[/quote]

I don’t think it’s any more or less applicable than asking about how to build ankle strength for ballet from a bunch of people who have no ballet experience. Especially when you have access to the advice, knowledge and experience of people who DO have ballet experience.

If I remember correctly, PowerPuff does ballet, and she might be the only person on this site who can offer any advice. Which, if I were to guess, is going to come back to “do what your instructor says”.


#16

That said, you got me playing with it, and it seems to be far more a mobility and balance issue than a strength one. I can get up further on my left foot than my right, but I’m having a hell of a time figuring out how to take a photo of it.


#17

Do you see the first girl in the photo?

Do you see the two girls behind her?

This is either a pre-pointe class, a pointe class, or an intermediate/advanced class in which one of the girls probably is not ready yet to take it in pointe shoes.

Do you see what the first girl is doing? The other two are on “full pointe”, she is on “3/4 pointe”. The key to going on “full pointe” is developing the strength to hold “3/4 pointe” wherein one can thoughtlessly rise over the toes and go into full pointe.


#18

01:35…

Again… the key is to develop sufficient strength to achieve height in the 2nd photo I attached. From there… it is all relatively downhill.

Ballet training is still needed, but you’ve overcome a hell of a lot.


#19

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]achilles007 wrote:
An awkward Arnold in grand plie in first position?? Really? You think this photo is applicable here?[/quote]

I don’t think it’s any more or less applicable than asking about how to build ankle strength for ballet from a bunch of people who have no ballet experience. Especially when you have access to the advice, knowledge and experience of people who DO have ballet experience.

If I remember correctly, PowerPuff does ballet, and she might be the only person on this site who can offer any advice. Which, if I were to guess, is going to come back to “do what your instructor says”.
[/quote]

This is a “releve”:

Please show me where in the world at ALL does that exercise (either turned in or turned out) CEASE being a calf raise?

Power cleans are not a movement that is identical to the movement of every single sport professional that adopts such an exercise-- yet it certainly is FUNCTIONAL enough to aid in the explosive movement(s) of many sports players such as Usain Bolt.

You mean to tell me, that heavy calf raises can’t do the same here, when they are virtually identical?


#20

[quote]LoRez wrote:
That said, you got me playing with it, and it seems to be far more a mobility and balance issue than a strength one. I can get up further on my left foot than my right, but I’m having a hell of a time figuring out how to take a photo of it.[/quote]

For “balance” you should be able to hold on to a wall. I agree with you on mobility.