It’s not about arm strength. I mean it is, but it ain’t. Let me explain.
Before I started pole, I was an at home crossfitter and before that a bodybuilder. I still couldn’t hold myself on the pole aerially for about 2 months. Yes, I could do a pull up but I couldn’t do what’s deemed a beginner fireman spin properly for like 4 weeks. I had the arm strength, but pole is a specific type of fitness strength that I did not understand just yet.
Pole dancing really takes back strength more than arm strength.
You too, probably have the arm strength already even if you feel like you don’t. If you’ve been picking up heavy laundry baskets, carrying bags of groceries up apartment stairs or carrying a baby around constantly, you have arm strength. Pole though, really takes back strength and form. Back strength isn’t something people engage actively on a daily basis. Think about it. When is the last time you’ve hung from monkey bars? Swam? cranked and pushed a lawn mower? pushed a really heavy cart? climbed a tree?
What you’ll hear instructors and YouTube poler dancers say a lot is engage your lats (or something like shoulders up & back). What they mean is use your back muscles not your arm muscles.
Struggling with holding yourself up on the pole? here’s what you can do
Here’s me learning from home in the first couple of weeks.
- Develop push/pull technique over – use conditioning exercises like legless pole climbs, pole holds, carousel kicks, also there’s this push/pull from the floor exercise I did here:
- Develop the posture & form that works for you. A lot of the cues that helped me realize it wasn’t my arms but my legs and back that would help assist my arms were : “chest up, back arched” , “chest to hands”, “hips to hands”. Notice when your back is rounded, when your posture is drooping or when you don’t feel trustful or confident in your movement.
- Finding the right liquid pole grip for hands & body helps tremendously
- Combat discouragement. Consider asking the studio or trying things at home that require leg/lower body strength in between the spins/aerial arm stuff. Ex: jasmine, genie, pole sit, hood ornament and low pole tricks.
- You’ll be sore most weeks, maybe every week in the first 1-3 months. Having a foam roller and maybe a yoga class (YouTube video) on deck helps to get rid of the soreness + break up the lactic acid in muscles so you recover quicker. Take some days off in between.
- and lastly, I’m gonna plug myself shamelessly. Sometimes your body needs to feel the form. I know that sounds weird but I was overthinking so much about pole in the beginning versus feeling it. When you overthink in pole, gravity has time to come and play tricks before you realize it. Resistance bands will assist you in learning techniques and form, while slightly and temporarily suspending gravity from pulling you down as you train/practice.