Sophie Logan's strength training tips for pole dancing

Posted: Jun 13 2013

As our pole fitness ambassadors are so passionate about pole dancing and want to inspire others we've asked them to pass on some of their knowledge to help others.  The first instalment is from the lovely Sophie Logan talking about strength training for pole dancing... 

If I had a pound for every time I heard a beginner pole dancer saying ‘...but I have no upper body strength...’ I’d be well on my way to paying off my student loan. The truth is, we are not born as pole dancers, we become pole dancers, and that means having put the work in order to meet pole dancing’s demands. Strength training for pole is a great way to condition your body for pole dancing and to help with general overall fitness, yet many of us neglect its importance. Of course learning new spins and tricks is usually more interesting than working on our strength, but if we want to be able to achieve those big moves or really progress as pole dancers we need to find a little bit of time each time we pole to work on our strength. Many of us also seem to think that by strength training we will turn into the Hulk but that is not the case. Strength training can help you tone your body and unless you are using heavy weights you will not develop huge muscles from adding a bit of strength training into your pole regime. 

My favourite strength training exercise is seat climbs up the pole using only my arms, as featured in my entry for the Pole Fitness Ambassador competition earlier this year. My aim is to one day be able to climb to the top of the pole using only arms in the style of Jess Leanne Norris, and this is a great stepping stone to achieving it. I like this move as it is very effective, and demands little technique, which can sometimes get in the way of successfully having a good strength training work out. I am very much someone who can get their left and rights mixed up very easily and when I am trying to put all my effort into a strength move it makes it even harder, so it is simple yet effective! To this move you need to begin in a cross ankle sit fairly low down the pole. Then reach your hands up right, grip the pole, gentle open the grip from your legs and pull yourself up. When you have pulled yourself up, grip tightly with your legs again and continue until you reach the top of the pole! I have recently begun to do this move with ankle weights on and to start completely on the floor to make it harder as my body became used to doing it. It is important to change your strength training around to make your body work harder, as it’s becomes used to the moves we repeatedly do. If you’re going to do a workout, you might as well get the most you can from it! 

Similar strength training exercises for pole strength can also be done on the pole. Doing strength training exercises on a pole whenever you can will also help your to work on your grip and improve your forearm strength, a commonly reported weak spot of many pole dancers. Here are so moves that you can do on the pole:

-Abs: To help you work on your stomach muscles, try the side ballerina crunch. Starting in your ballerina hook, keep your supporting leg close to the pole and lean over to the side. However, in contrast to our normal ballerina hook, this time keep your hands at the side of your head and use your stomach muscles to lower you down and to pull yourself back up straight. Really engage your abs to make sure that you are controlled and balanced in your movement and make sure that you are using your abdominals to do the work and not your arms. Do not forget to do your other side

 -Arms: A great way to work on your arms is simple pencil pull ups. Standing with the pole in front of you, reach your arms up high, tightly grip the pole and pull yourself up. Make sure that you pull yourself into the pole and upwards, not dangling at the side of the pole. Keep your legs and feet off the pole (which is hard as we are used to going into a crucifix!) and make sure that you are holding yourself up with you arms and not dangling from them. Once you are in position hold for as long as you can, before lowering down slowly. If this move becomes easy, try to pull yourself up and down without touching the floor. Also ensure that you do this move at least twice with a different hand on the top each time.

-Legs: Starting in a carousel spin hold, bring your legs to the front and into a tuck position. Then separate the legs and hold in a boomerang spin position. To work your legs you really need to keep your legs as far away from the ground as possible: fighting gravity in the position is very hard! You will also be working your arms due to holding the position, but the main work will be coming from the thighs and hips to keep them up from the floor. With this move hold as long as possible before slowly lowering to the floor. If this becomes easy try to go from the carousel position, to the boomerang position and then back into the carousel. This also targets the abdominal due to your body having to fight again the motion of the movement between the moves.  Try and incorporate these into the beginning of your work out every time you are on the pole, and track your progress. I personally like to take note of how many repetitions I can do, such as how many aerial static V’s I can manage before my body gives up, and then in a few weeks review how I have progressed. For me actually being able to see on paper how my work has paid off makes it even more satisfying and gives me the drive to keep the strength training up.

Once you begin to feel confident in your strength training you can start to adapt your training to suit your pole move goals. For example, for working towards achieving ‘chopsticks’ you would begin to work more on your legs and your ability to hold them out in front of you against gravity, or if you were working towards inverting then you may begin to incorporate more core strength exercises to help prepare your body for a controlled and safe invert. The possibilities are endless when it comes to strength training, and once you really commit to it, you will see your pole dancing abilities improve as well as your general fitness and body tone!


The Pole Motion ‘Pole Fitness Workout’ DVD featuring Justin McLucas has great features for learning other strength training and toning moves including ‘the swan’ and ‘the chair hold’. Using step by step instructions you can see how to perform the moves and keep up your pole fitness at home. Or download the ’Pole Fitness’ App so you can carry on your training on the move!

For more on Sophie check out her blog

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