Developing Stamina for Competition

Well maybe not - the point is (and the article goes into some detail) that we use different muscles when walking at speed to running. To develop stamina you must develop the muscles that lift the knee rather than push the leg down, those muscles are in your hips rather than the legs.

If you have to do sudden changes of pace as in going from a Waltz to a Jive the best training is a fast walk rather than running at a steady pace.

All physical fitness should be task specific. The problem with running ( jogging is more like it ) is it teaches you to run slow. The concept of speed marching teaches you to walk fast. Which has the more desired effect in combat. What I'm getting at is your muscles are being trained for a specific activity. Jogging is good for teaching a specific kind of endurance like steady movement but when you have to kick it up a gear ( like when you are under fire ) it is very hard to do. What is more likely to happen is you will crouch and jog. In combat it's inevitable that you will need a burst of speed to avoid being exposed to fire or move to cover under aimed fire. The speed marching concept is better than jogging, no question. It can be used to successfully move forces over large chunks of terrain and still remain alert to your surroundings, very necessary in combat conditions. It is teaching your muscles to move faster than the usual march speed. This is more muscle memory stuff which you're probably tired of but I don't know how else to explain it.
Now examine what happens when you make contact from a jog. One of the most important aspects of foot speed is your ability to pick up your feet quickly so you can marshall the quadriceps and hamstring muscles which push your feet down and back which propels you forward. These two muscles groups ( hamstring and quads with a lot of help from your gluteus ) are the most explosive in your body. You would think that some one with extremely strong thighs would be fast but this isn't true. In order to make your thigh muscles work at their maximum you have to you have to be able to bring your knees up to at least waist high and higher is better. The slower you lift your knees up the longer the it takes to push down with your thighs. You can only go as fast as the up down motion will allow. A person can have tremendous thigh strength (the push cycle) but be totally unable to pick your knees up (the pull cycle) and the result will be slow speed. That's basic stuff that I may not be making totally clear but I can recommend some books if you are really interested.
The muscles that pick up your knee is the Hip Flexor. These are the thin band of muscles that run down the front of the hip from your Abs to the quads. They are not very strong but they are extremely explosive. The problem with jogging is it fatigues the hip flexor severely and does something called short stroking. This is where the muscle does not work through the full range of motion and is constantly fatigued in the partial range. What this means is when you have to run suddenly after jogging for a long time you cannot pick up your knees. The result is slow foot speed and possibly the ultimate sacrifice.
Speed marching is a much better in the sense that you save your legs from the pounding and the fatigue in your hip flexors. It also allows your legs to functions in a more natural manner. This means efficiency which translate into saved energy and more importantly the ability to turn on the speed when it's necessary. Speed marching is definitely tiring but it works the strongest and biggest muscle groups (the thighs) and not one of the weakest ( hip flexor ) which you could need at a moments notice.
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Or in another article in the march out of Burma in 1942 it was the Burmese nurses who could maintain the marching pace because they were used to working on their feet in the hospital. The 'physically' strong infantry men could not.

Then two more American officers passed out from sunstroke. Captain Tommy Lee and Major Felix Nowakowski collapsed, unconscious, and were placed with the others who were being dragged and carried along at the end of the column. Stilwell couldn't believe that these strapping young Americans were in such bad shape. In his diary entry for that day he wrote, "Christ but we are a poor lot." He reduced the weight of the packs they were carrying to ten pounds for fear that more of the Americans would fall by the wayside.
Dr. Seagrave's 16 tiny nurses ministered to and helped in carrying the sick Americans while singing Christian hymns such as "Onward Christian Soldiers." Nothing was said about the fact that these were some of the same American officers who had proposed abandoning the nurses for fear they would slow down the escape into India. By the second day, Colonel Holcombe, Major Merrill, and Captain Lee were back on their feet, but Major Nowakowski was still unable to walk. Stilwell was disgusted with them. Addressing Colonel Williams, the army doctor who was in his early fifties, Stilwell demanded to know, "gosh darnit!, Williams, you and I can stand it. We're both older than any of them. Why can't they take it ?"
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You know, this is an interesting approach. When I get 2 quick dances in a row at a party, I usually think "I should have a word with whoever created this playlist, this is inhumane". Coincidentally, I can stay on a cardio machine for about an hour at a decent pace, but standard round drains me (it's that VW in the middle, smooth is OK because VW is in the end, there is nothing else after it).
I know I'm a strange one...

The aerobic you are sounding sounds good in my opinion. I suggest throwing in some anaerobic training at this point, such as interval training. You are probably (very very probably) working at 60-80% of your max heart rate on the cardio machine. This is great for increasing lung capacity, blood vessel size, heart size and strength (in other words you body is able to take in oxygen faster), and losing weight.

According to BritJ.Sports Med.- Vol. 22, No. 2, June 1988, pp. 57-60, A Grade Ams (any of the Aussie's care to convert this to US equivalent for me?) or professions are working at heart rates from 78% max (during just the waltz) for men 81% for the women and up to 92% max in the VW. for the men and 95% max for the women. (FYI: This study was done with their competition routines)

A small percent of time should be spent in your anaerobic zone, which is 80-90% of your maximum heart rate. At this more strenuous level your heart cannot pump enough blood to satisfy your muscles, and you begin to “feel the burn” as lactic acid builds up in your muscles. Performance athletes will touch briefly in the redline zone, or 90-100% of your maximum. This level relates to the end of your Jive or Quickstep.
You probably need to start doing some anaerobic training to get your body accustomed to operating at theses high heart rates. This will increae you lactic acid threshold and VO2max and allow you operate longer at higher heart rates. Typical training for this involves intervals (yay! not really, intervals are one of the few exercise I do because it is good for me, not because I enjoy it). Probably the easiest thing for a dancer to do is dance rounds. There are also plenty of typical cardio workouts for this you can find online, just google interval training. The other advantage of intervals is that you are going to get your body accustomed to starting and stopping (just like when we compete :D).

Disclaimer: If you are not in shape do not jump into interval training, you will hurt yourself. You'll get plenty of good out of standard aerboic training at that level. If you are in shape it is not recommended that you do intervals more than once a week, doing so is asking for injuries.

Additional disclaimer: I don't have any training in sports medicine, this just stuff I've read over the years... (sorry I get a little nervous recommending intervals to people I've never met)
I changed my work out routine today. Instead of jogging/running, I set the program to interval- but at a steady pace. Did a brisk walk with different degrees of incline throughout an hour. It was interesting reading about how it's better to work on the hip flexors versus running at a steady pace, actually making that muscle group less effective.

Also trying to eat smaller meals more often. A comp is coming up in two weeks, so I'm going to change my diet around and see what happens. It'll be a two week test to see how I feel afterwards.


Active Member
smaller meals/snakcs ever 2/3 hours works wonders for me. h elps me stay more alert through day too, since blood sugar level isn't going through such extreme cycles. :)
Yeah my fault is I'll get busy, then don't get a chance to eat and by the end of the day I'm ready to eat anything in sight. The bad thing with that is, I usually end up crashing right afterwards. How much do carbs, such as pasta, effect one's blood sugar level? I'm thinking of cutting back on carbs, unless it is the minority of the meal or part of a protein bar to get me through lessons. I used to buy whole wheat pasta, but when I'm trying to watch my budget, I switched back to whatever was on sale, usually not including the whole wheat brands.


Active Member
My experience says carbs are good but don't last as long. Proteins tend to give a more even longer lasting boost to blood sugar. normal days I'll alternate between the two, and try to get whole grain/natural carbs when I can (though yeah, for same reason I don't get them all that much anymore). The key, as you've already hinted there, is reallly to get into a habit of it. Same type of thing as practicing. And ironically, my third snack of the day (not counting breakfast) tends to fall same time as I normally go to studio for practice over my lunch break. The two falling at same time makes it that much easier to stick to the habit on both.
In general you want 10-35% of your calories coming from protein, 45-60% coming from carbs, and 20-35% of your calories from fat. If you are working on building muscle you typically want 0.7-1g of protein per pound of body weight. To let your body use the protein to build muscle you still need enough energy so you typicall want to keep you calories from carbs above 50%. Endurance athletes need to typicall push the calories from carbs up to 60-70% of their caloric intake.

Simple sugars and starches will spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry again sooner. I try to hit a full spectrum of foods when I eat. Fiber and protein will fill you up and make it take longer for your body to absorb the sugars from your meal (less of a blood sugar spike).

I personally like to eat lots of carbs (but I also run). I don't think they are evil at all. They are your bodies favorite energy source (your body really hates to use protein as an energy source). I've never had a problem with pasta spiking my blood sugar, only donuts or candy (for pasta I personally like barilla and don't do the whole wheat kind cause I'm also cheap). With pasta I almost never eat it plain. There is usually sauce and some other stuff, which will slow the carb absorbtion.

I would say keep eating carbs, just stay away from candy, and try to eat other things with it. For example, throw some peanut butter on the piece of bread you were going to eat.

As a side note the USDA guidelines tend to be pretty good. Here is a neat story I found on cnn a while ago:


Well-Known Member
came across this very interesting article showing some oxygen capacity/output research results for both standard & latin ballroom dancers
(unfortunately the link is down)

the VO2 Max is very high for both as compared with the ranges for other sports listed here:

among the curious points revealed by this particular research:
  • standard men require slightly higher VO2 Max than latin men.
  • latin ladies require noticeably higher VO2 Max than latin men.
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It is quite true. You have to be fit and healthy for competitive dancing. Working out will definitely help to improve stamina. There are different cardiovascular exercises that can develop stamina. And don’t forget, you have to eat well and sleep well to if you want to improve your stamina.

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