The Anatomy of Dance: Paso Doble

If you’ve danced the Paso Doble, you’ll know it’s all about attitude – after all you’re trying to portray a matador! It’s all about how the posture and different movements involved help tone the abdominal muscles and give a great overall workout.

How are specific muscle groups targeted with the different postures involved in the Paso Doble?

The Paso Doble has a move called the Sur Place during which we’re on the balls of our feet and our legs are slightly bent. This means that the posture engages all the muscles in the legs, from your foot, ankle and calves to the front and backs of your thighs. Then the movement we call the zigzag brings in the hip area, abdominals and intercostals as you move from side to side.

Finally, for the Albatross, the upper body is in an upright position but the arms are moving in a very purposeful way from your groin to above your head. The arms are tightly engaged and all the muscles are tense.

So with all of this in mind, you’re engaging 80-90% of your muscles at any one time. This burns a lot of calories!

How is this better for the abdominal muscles than, say, 100 sit-ups?

Because the arms are moving and the feet are stamping throughout, the core muscles in the lower back and the abdominals have to be engaged, otherwise you’ll fall over. So if you’re doing a 4-minute workout, then just doing the Sur Place alone will work the muscles in the abdominals quite hard. But then you add in the zigzag motion, which means you have to move your whole mid-section almost 80-90 degrees side to side. So it’s almost like doing a sit up with a curl.

What kind of heart rate would you achieve with this dance?

The heart rate will elevate when your muscles are engaged, so during the Paso Doble, the heart is trying to deliver blood and oxygen to the muscles that you’re using. You’re already using your feet, calves, and thighs, but then your arms are above your head, so your heart has to work against gravity because it’s sending blood down and up. So, even though it’s not a fast movement, your average heart rate will be much higher than normal and maintained all the way throughout.Depending on your age and your resting heart rate, the average would be anything between 140 and 160bpm, which is very high.

What other health benefits come from this dance?

Because the Paso Doble is so slow and purposeful, your nervous system is working overtime. The Sur Place provides an unstable platform so you’re also really working on your core stability and balance. As we get older we naturally lose our balance, so this is really important for overall health.
Mark Foster
The Anatomy Of Dance: Paso Doble
A Health Tip from Mark Foster



Watch Chelsee and Pasha’s Paso Doble to Malaguena, which scored a perfect 40 in Strictly series 9.