Anyone who takes a Groove class knows what a great cardiovascular workout it is. However, some may not realize, or take full advantage of, the muscular training benefits. In order to maximize your workout and achieve noticeable results, you should pay attention to muscle contractions and focus on the muscles you are working.
Many of the dances in Groove utilize punches. On moves like punches, the arms should be tight and contracted without locking out or hyperextending, especially at the elbows or shoulders. This will avoid repetitive trauma on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Moves should be intentional and not jerky. In other words, we like to twerk, not jerk! In order to maximize the muscle contraction, it is important to think about which muscles are being worked. This is another example of the mind-body connection. Studies show that when a trainer actually touches the muscle that a client is supposed to be working, the client will achieve greater results.
Many of the Groove songs also utilize squats and lunges. The maximum effect and benefit will be achieved when performing full range of motion such as dropping low in a squat or bending both knees and dropping in the lunge.
Some specific examples from particular songs will be discussed.
One of my favorite new songs is “R.I.P.” where there is a side lunge. A side lunge will activate the glutes, quadriceps, and adductor muscles. The lower one goes; the more benefit will be achieved. Proper attention to form is also crucial to avoid injury. The knee should track in the same direction as the foot and not extend beyond the toes in front. Punches are also part of this song. The overhead punches utilize the deltoid and triceps muscles and again should be intentional. The move to the phrase, “Bing bada boom” has the arm flexing and extending at the elbow. The flexion activates the biceps and then the extension of the forearm contracts the triceps. Again, this should be intentional. Hip rotation also occurs at the same time, working the gluteus medius.
On the song “Sip It,” the first move should be a deep half squat, half lunge to the side as you are throwing your arms forward activating the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. On the chorus when the hands are clasped behind the back with the arms extended, this is an isometric contraction of the triceps muscles and will showcase those hard-earned muscles. The hamstring curls should also be intentional with full contraction of the hamstring muscles attempting to have the heel meet the gluteal region.
On the song “Hell Yeah,” this can be a great core strengthening workout. Again, punches are utilized focusing on the deltoids and triceps, but also, as the arms are punching forward, the protraction of the scapula utilizes the serratus anterior muscles. At the same time, there is a posterior pelvic tilt activating the glutes, transverse abdominis, and rectus abdominis.
On one of the older songs, “Cheap Thrills,” when the arms cross in front with the palms up and then open in front, this is actually a rehabilitation exercise for rotator cuff injuries as it incorporates external rotation of the humerus at the glenohumeral joint.
Two songs that when done correctly are extremely tiring due to using the large muscles of the body throughout the song are “Oliver Twist” and “’Till I Collapse.” In “Oliver Twist,” most of the song is done in a low squat. As you step out into the squat, again the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps are activated and then a plyometric jump to the center occurs. At another part of the song, there are squats to the side with the arms raising to the side, activating the deltoids, and then front lunges. At the end of the song, there are stationary lunges to the side. It is important to make sure that the back foot either pivots on the toes at the pivot point or the foot is picked up in place to avoid twisting the knee.
On the Eminem song “’Till I Collapse,” arm movements on the punches are very strong and contracted. My favorite part of the song is the whipping movement with the side lunges, again with careful attention to avoid twisting the knees, where the arms are slamming down as if they are slamming ropes or chains. This will activate the shoulders and upper back muscles. This move can be very tiring if done correctly, as the arms and legs are working at the same time.
Many of the songs also incorporate knee lifts with the arms pulling down toward the knee which is an excellent core exercise focusing on the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominus. The transverse abdominus is contracted when you pull in your lower abdomen such as pulling your belly button toward your spine. The more you can think about doing this throughout the entire class, the stronger your core will be. This will also help improve posture and honestly the way that you look in pictures.
These are only a few examples. Every Groove song incorporates different fitness elements. In summary, moves should be intentional with full range of motion contracting the muscles and with proper alignment. If you ever see me in class and have any questions regarding proper form for injury prevention, please reach out.
-Written by amazing REB3L Groove Instructor Allie Fall, M.D.
Allie is a physician specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Her clinical practice consists of diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal and neurologic injuries. She has over 30 years experience in the fitness industry as an instructor, gym owner, NPC physique competitor and REB3L Groove instructor.