It’s a fact that salsa dancing can keep your heart rate high and help burn fat. Which moves burn the most calories though? It depends on you, your metabolism, and how much oomph you put into every move. Each salsa move can burn a tremendous amount of calories if you put enough pizazz into it. It’s like asking how many calories walking burns—it all depends! Are you walking at a slow, easy pace down hills, or are you swinging your arms and power walking?
Salsa dancing is an excellent form of exercise and fat burning. It’s mostly cardio, but you certainly need (and can build!) strength with every move. Here’s your complete list of the moves that have potential to burn the most calories, and how you can optimize them.
- Side rocks. Anything with “rocks” in the name certainly has potential to burn calories! The fourth basic salsa step (side / in place / together / repeat) requires a large step to the left, shifting of weight, and repeating on the other side. Add in some extra hip movement, keep your elbows bent, and bear in mind that this is a very common movement in step classes, aerobics, and jazzercise. It was built to burn!
- Dame Ocaito: A twist on the classic Dame, this move adds in a “wolf shout” at beat seven. Dame is a basic step in rueda de casino which dictates the partners to switch. You won’t find it often in most salsa classes, but you can practice with three other friends, or request a special rueda styling during part of your next group class. Balancing physical demands with the mental, including knowing when and how to switch partners and adding in a wolf howl, keeps you on your toes and burning calories.
- Tap: This little element can pack a big punch, while also helping beginners learn the foundation of salsa dancing. A lot of dancers use it for styling, but it’s also paramount for proper weight shifting. It requires the right amount of muscle tension in the arms for “Contra” because loose arms will stop body movement and make leading impossible. Taps can be added in beats four and eight, and starts with a small elevation of a foot that’s stepping on the next beat. You can use your heel, toes, or ball of the foot.
- Coca Cola: Considered an intermediate or even advanced move, it’s still one that’s a calorie killer and can be mastered by all levels. It requires a 1.5 traveling turn left, followed by a Dile Que No. Dile Que No is a basic move which switches the partners from side to side. The Coca Cola adds a little extra twist / turn to the Dile, upping movement, requirements for balance and concentration, and helps you get more flair from the movement.
- Adios: A type of flair, on beat five the leader lifts his left arm and takes a small step back. Next, on beats 6 and 7, he moves forward beneath the arm towards the follower. Any time you’re raising your arms, you’re increasing the demands on the body. Adding in some solo flair work can also do the trick.
- Botala: By far the easiest of flair moves, simply act like you’re tossing something into the air when you have a free hand. This move is most often performed by leads, but there are no rules. The more flair, grace and styling you have, the better it looks—and the more calories you will burn. Put in some effort, and you can easily add on some major calorie burns by the end of the dance.
- Basic step: Yes, you can add more styling to the basic step! The deeper you go with each shifting of the foot, the better your frame, and the more flair you put into it, the more energy you’ll burn.
Improved posture, added touches of flair, and more passion all lead to a dance that looks better—and will make you look better! Attend class when you’re energized, refreshed and ready to make the most of your lesson.
Check out our salsa video lesson page to learn some new moves. It’s time to break a sweat!