Dancesport Latin & Ballroom. Is it an Aerobic or Anaerobic Sport?

What do the words "aerobic" and "anaerobic" mean?

I'll start with the basics. More generally there is confusion about what the words "aerobic" and "anaerobic" mean in the mind of someone who is not a professional in the field of sports. More specifically, you will probably have heard some terminologies, such as "aerobic and anaerobic energy production mechanism", "aerobic and anaerobic exercises" or "exercise type", "aerobic and anaerobic glycolysis" etc.

Very fast and simple:

When we talk about an aerobic energy production mechanism, we mean the process of producing ATP (energy currency) in mitochondria using Oxygen and percentage takes over after 5 minutes of continuous activity.

The Anaerobic energy production mechanism is divided into two categories, the Anaerobic Agalactic (e.g. 100m running) and anaerobic lactic (e.g. 800m running) mechanism. Anaerobic Agalactic is the first phase of an activity where the body chooses to use stored energy, i.e. stored ATP and Phosphocreatin. In the second phase, that of Lactic, our body in need of further energy, as phosphamonas decline rapidly.<10"), χρησιμοποιεί ένα προϊόν του αναερόβιου μεταβολισμού, το οποίο το γνωρίζετε ως Γαλακτικό Οξύ (Γαλακτικό Ιόν). Lactic acid, through a process called the Cori cycle, is transferred through the blood to the Liver and broken down so that it is ready for use as a raw material (glucose) and returns back to the muscles.

Here I note that our body functions as a whole and always uses all energy sources and what changes significantly and makes a difference, is the percentage! The percentage depends on the intensity, duration, type of exercise/activity and level of the trainee/athlete.

What is Dancesport Latin & Ballroom?

As far as competitive dance is concerned there is very little research, but over the years interest has increased, so in the future we will have more data.

One of the most athletic forms of dance is the Competitive Ballroom (Standard, Smooth) and Latin (Latin American, Rhythm). Dances danced in pairs usually in stadiums and large halls with the proper space and parquet, also known as DanceSport. In the international DanceSport competitions, there are five dances (Five Dance) and the dancers specialize in Ballroom or Latin, but some dance both (i.e. compete in all ten dances (Ten Dance). There are also professional and amateur categories in group (all ladies, formation etc), as well as student.

The dances vary in intensity, but everyone is physically demanding. Below you can get a taste of seeing professional dancers, champions of their kind.In th

e first video, champions Arunas Bizokas and Katusha Demidova present the Waltz dance, the first in a series of five dances performed in a competition. Although their elegant movement initially seems effortless, a careful examination of posture, torso posture, body rotation, strength on each leg and the strength of the feet, reveals the incredible athleticism required to perform this dance at a high level.Unlike Walt

z, in Quickstep (the fifth dance held in competitions) , the change in intensity is immediately apparent because of the speed of the dance. In the video below, the top dancers prove that this type of dance doesn't have much in common with what we call "aerobic exercise" at constant intensity for 30 or more mi

nutes.In Latin, Jive is the fifth and fastest dance. Here is an example of Jive in a show by champions Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko.Danc

eSport is an extremely anaerobic effort and as we said the energy production to perform the activity does not depend on the availability of oxygen during the performance of the dances. Why is this happening?

For high-intensity, short-term activity (less than 2 minutes), energy must be produced quickly and the oxidative (aerobic) energy system cannot keep up with the energy demand of the activity. This is why "aerobic exercise" with moderate intensity is not the ideal exercise for athlete dancers. This is where "specialized" training is needed according to the characteristics of the sport.

Given the somewhat short duration (90-120 seconds – World DanceSport Federation, 2011) and the intensity of DanceSport, it can be compared to skating or instrumental and rhythmic gymnastics, where they depend almost exclusively on anaerobic energy systems. As I said earlier, there are very few investigations, but they are of great interest. Below I present the summaries of 3 important studies.In

Μελέτη 1: "Ένταση του Dancesport"

the first study of dancesport's energy needs, Blanksby and Reidy (1988) examined the heart rate and VO2 max (ability to use oxygen during exercise) of dancer athletes in Ballroom and Latin, after the simulation of a competition. Participants were 10 young couples (average 23 years old), champions and professional dancers in Western Australia. The measurements were carried out in two phases. In the first, the maximum Heart Frequency (HR) and VO2 values were obtained. In the second phase, the researchers collected Heart Frequency with chest-related heart rate meters during simulated Ballroom and Latin dance routines.

After each dance, followed by a break of 15-20 seconds to simulate real competition conditions. After they finished with ballroom, they waited 30 minutes, changed costumes and then danced their Latin. The heart rate was measured telemetrically to allow the researchers to calculate the average oxygen c


  • For men and women in Ballroom and Latin, dancers performed 85-91% of the maximum heart rate (on average).
  • Oxygen consumption exceeded 2.0 litres per minute during the dances, which has previously been described as "very heavy" to "extremely heavy" exercise (Astrand and Rodahl, 1986).
  • In particular, these elements suggest that DanceSport is consistent with the concept of "high activity intensity" and that DanceSport's performance at a high level depends on the efficiency of anaerobic energy systems.

Although this study provides information on dancesport's energy requirements, it is limited in two important ways. First, energy expenditure was assessed indirectly, looking at the relationship between heart rate and VO2. Specific VO2 direct measuring equipment should be used for greater accuracy. Moreover, although conclusions can be drawn on the anaerobic requirements of this sport based on the intensity of activity, Blanksby and Reidy (1988) did not evaluate Lactic Acid to determine whether the metabolism in this dance style is consistent with that observed in other "anaero

Μελέτη 2: "Παραγωγή γαλακτικού οξέος (Αναερόβια Ικανότητα)"

bic" sports. (2011) addressed these limitations in the examination of energy requirements in Ballroom and Latin dances. Their study involved 12 Italian couples (6 in Ballroom and 6 in Latin) with competitive experience at national or international level.

There were two days of evaluation. On Day 1, fitness indicators (heart rate, VO2, etc.) were evaluated. On Day 2, the on-the-spot assessment was carried out. VO2 and HR were evaluated directly during simulated choreography and lactic acid (BL) was measured after the dancers completed the choreographies.

There were 5 dances (each for 1:40") with breaks of 15-20 seconds and HR and VO2 were telemetry during the dance. The BL samples were taken at rest, after each dance, and at the end of all 5 dances. The next day, the BL samples were taken during rest after Waltz on Day 1, Waltz and Tango on Day 2 and so on for 5 days and 5 dances.Result


Analysis in the field revealed that the dancers performed at %HR max, 82 to 97 for men and 82 to 93 for women in ballroom. While in Latin, prices were 90 to 97 for men and 92 to 98 for women. These findings were consistent with those of Blanksby and Reidy (1988).

Lactic blood data are probably the brightest side of Bria et al. (2011). The data indicate:

  • In Ballroom, BL(Lactic Acid) production steadily increased in the first 3 dances (Waltz, Tango and Viennese Waltz), decreased in Foxtrot and increased again during Quickstep.
  • In Latin, however, BL increased dramatically during the first Cha-Cha-Cha dance and remained at a high level in all 5 dances.

> The graphs below show the accumulation and changes in BL(Lactic Acid) in Ballroom and Latin dances, respectively. The blue bars show the difference between BL calm and BL after each dance. The red lines show the difference in the change of BL from the previous dance.

Ballroom Χοροί (%10=mmol)

  • BL κάθε χορού
  • BL διαφορά απο τον προηγούμενο χορό

Latin Χοροί (%10=mmol)

  • BL κάθε χορού
  • BL διαφορά απο τον προηγούμενο χορό

The differences in the intensity of Ballroom dances (1) and Latin (2) are evident in these graphs.

Based on this data, it appears that the Ballroom and Latin categories differ in relation to the abilities required to perform each dance successfully.Ballrooms seem to require the dancer to gradually increase or decrease the volume throughout the series of dances (as evidenced by changes in BL production), while Latin requires the possibility of direct performance at high intensity and maint

Μελέτη 3: "Αερόβια Ικανότητα"

aining this intensity throughout all 5 dances. , during a test with gradually increasing activity intensity, as in a simulated competition, in relation to gender, dance and international ranking.

Helena Liiv et al.(2012) looked at a total of 30 couples (12 Ballroom, 7 Latin and 11 Ten Dance, men aged 22.8 years and women 22.0 average). In this study for the first time they conducted a contest simulation of more than one round and compared three different Dancesport styles (Ballroom, Latin and Ten Dance). The results showed that the dancers of these three forms of dance had similar aerobic capacity valu


The average maximum oxygen consumption values (O[Vdot]2max) were 59.6 ± 5.1 and 51.2 ± 6.2 ml; min-1 · kg-1 for male and female dancers, respectively.

  • The simulation of the competition showed that the demands on Latin dances are more pronounced compared to the Ballroom and Ten Dance categories, especially for women.
  • Ballroom dancers tend to dance at a lower intensity than the anaerobic threshold (AT) during a simulated competition (men 97.3 ± 2.9%, women 97.9 ± 3.6%), compared to Latin (men 101.4 ± 2.9%, women 106.7 ± 5.9%) and 10 Dance (men 100.7 ± 6.4%, women 99.2 ± 5.6%), where the intensity was higher compared to the AT level of athletes.
  • The highest heart rate during the simulation of the competition was always during the last dances (Paso Double, Jive or Quickstep) and in the last round of each category.

So… Dancesport is characterized as Aerobic or Anaerobic;

In particular, according to these results, DanceSport has significant anaerobic (lactic) requirements and is characterized as "very heavy" up to "extremely heavy" activity. Training methods should also be developed according to the requirements and characteristics of the sport, as well as to the individual needs of the dancer.

It is also important to mention that aerobic training is also good to be included in the training plan, for various reasons that I will analyze in my future article. As we see the human body acts as a whole and always looks for the balance (homeostasis) between all its systems and so it is good to keep it in mind when deciding what is best and preferable to do, according to the results we want to bring!

-If you find this article interesting, mix it with your friends 🙂


  1. Study 1. Blanksby, B. A. & Reidy, P. W. (1988). "Heart rate and estimated energy expenditure during ballroom dancing." British Journal of Sports Medicine, 22, 57-60.
  2. Study 2. Bria, S., Bianco, M., Galvani, C., Palmieri, V., Zeppilli, P., & Faina, M. (2011). "Physiological characteristics of elite sport-dancers." Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 51, 194-203.
  3. Study 3. Helena Liiv ,Toivo Jürimäe,Jarek Mäestu,Priit Purge,Aave Hannus (2012). "Physiological characteristics of elite dancers of different dance styles." Faculty of Exercise and Sport Sciences , University of Tartu , Tartu , Estonia
  4. Massidda M1, Cugusi L, Ibba M, Tradori I, Calò CM."Energy expenditure during competitive Latin American dancing simulation." Med Probl Perform Art. 2011 Dec;26(4):206-10.
  5. Mougios V. Excercice Biochemistry. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics; 2006
  6. Hargreaves M, Spriet M. Excercice metabolism. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics; 2006
  7. "How To Get A Dancer's Body". Article by Joel Minden, Phd
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