Tuesday Tips: Upper body pole conditioning

Nemesis: Weakness!

So I’ve been asked a few times how I got stronger, and so I put together a short video of some of the basic on-the-pole strengthening moves that I find are really effective for working upper body, on a STATIC pole.

Keep in mind: this is not an exhaustive list of moves! And, if you’re looking for off-the-pole stuff, there is TONS of information available on how to use free weights, or even just your own body weight, to get results.

In order, as they are brought up in the video (click here for a direct link to the video on YouTube):

  • Pole holds: make sure that you are keeping your shoulders back and DOWN with your hips slightly in front of the pole and your elbows pointing down. You should think about maintaining a long neck while you do these– don’t let your shoulders come up at all, think about keeping your chest proud. The longer that you hold these, the more work you are doing; I would aim for at least 10 seconds on each side to start, working up to a couple sets. If you can’t quite keep your weight up for 10 seconds, then keep one foot down on the floor and use just that leg to hold you up a teeny bit– just enough so that you don’t slide down right away. To make them more difficult, try maintaining a tuck, or doing knee lifts (to work hip flexors) or straight legged lifts (to work lower abs) but make sure you DON’T put your feet down between reps. When you’re working straight legged lifts, think about extending your toes out and away to paint the wall in front of you; you should NOT be feeling the work happening in your quads.
  • Pull downs: If you’re not strong enough yet to do a pull up, work on the reverse: a pull down! Start high up the pole, after a climb, and get into a basic sit. Position your hands low, at your chest, and open your legs to take them off the pole. Then, lower yourself down as low as you can, maintaining control. To make it easier, keep your legs close to the pole in a very loose sit: consider them your “training wheels”. Also, the lower you let yourself go, the harder it will be: your biceps are strongest when your arms are bent at about 90 degrees. As you get stronger you will be able to drop down more and really work your strength through your arms’ full range of motion. Again, make sure you are keeping your shoulders down and back, and keeping a long neck.
  • Tuck ‘n Tips: Obviously, I made this name up. But, I like it! The idea is that you go into a pole hold, crunch your knees up to your chest, hold, THEN tip back. This will lead to a controlled tuck invert and tuck chopper, but you have to make sure you aren’t using ANY momentum. Use your arms to pull the pole through your legs, straightening your arms, keeping your chest forward and shoulders down, to get your hips up high. Do NOT let your back round at any point. Come down with just as much control as you came up with.
  • Pull up climb: The higher that you reach with your hands, the harder you will make it for yourself. Don’t reach up too far to begin with, and move them up the stronger you get.
  • Arms only climb: People see this and freak out, but it’s REALLY not as hard as it looks. If you don’t reach up high, it’s a lot easier. Try to keep your legs in a straddle with pointy toes so that you are working your whole body at the same time!

Other ways to add conditioning to your pole routine are to work on climbsMonkey Climbs, Caterpillars, and Caterpillar Climbs. Whenever you work strengthening exercises, make sure that you maintain good form– the minute that you start to get droopy and lazy, stop and take a break and come back to it. You won’t get as much out of conditioning unless you are using the right muscles and engaging properly– you definitely don’t want to get injured.

Good luck!


Tomorrow’s post: 2012 Resolutions…