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How to get stronger for pole dancing

A lot of us asked the same question when we first started; how do I get stronger for pole dancing? And some of us may have even put off joining until we’d built up some upper body strength first. But you know what phrase we hear tossed around more than anything? God, I wish I’d started sooner.
Author - Ellen Niven | Date - 26th October 2022

If you’re interested in starting pole dancing and are curious about how to get stronger for it, the answer is simple yet extremely effective. Just get started!

There’s no better way to build up your strength than attending the classes themselves. Don’t waste time trying to prepare your body beforehand, there’s no need. That would be like wanting to move to Italy but waiting till your fluent in the language first. What’s the point in that? You’ll learn much faster and have ten times more fun being in the environment and pole dancing is no different. It’s a unique style of movement which branches out into various different forms. Whether you’re into tricks and shapes, contemporary dance, heels flow, stripper style ect, every avenue of pole dancing comes with its own skill set which will strengthen you physically and with all those released endorphins, mentally too. It will work your upper and lower body muscles, core, cardiovascular fitness and even your ankle muscles if you decide to dance in heels. The best part is that you’ll be having too much fun to even notice you’re doing a full body workout.


If you’ve been pole dancing for a while and are looking for ways to enhance your progress then this article is the one for you as we’ll be breaking down some of our best tips, including advice from our very own PJ ambassadors, on how to take your training to the next level. We’ll be covering topics on:


  • Conditioning

  • Benefits of cross training

  • Stretching

  • Fuelling a strong body

  • Sleep and hydration

  • Rest and rehabilitation

It’s no secret that pole dancing is hard work, it takes drive, patience and dedication but incorporating just a couple of the following practices into your routine could make all the difference for improving your strength and ability. Remember to be patient with yourself, nothing is perfected overnight and we all progress at different speeds. Just focus on yourself, your own journey and most importantly have fun along the way! 

Conditioning

As with any practice you want to implement into your lifestyle, consistency is key. If you make it a habit to show up to weekly pole classes, you’re already laying a great foundation for building strength. Even if you’re not nailing a new move every single class or feel less energised then you did the week before, training routinely is guaranteed to make you stronger in the long run. As our ambassador Kheanna Walker says:
"Repetition is the mother of all skill" - Kheanna
So, we recommend you find a day of the week, even just an afternoon or morning and designate that as your pole time. You’ll hopefully find this a great opportunity to shut off from work and responsibilities and allow yourself time to focus on something you love doing because it makes you feel good.
Kheanna Walker | @kheannawalker
As well as staying consistent, incorporating conditioning into your training regime will be hugely beneficial to your progress, especially once you start inverting and practicing moves up the pole. Our team of ambassadors all agree this is what fundamentally changed the game for them on their own pole journeys. By squeezing in just one session of conditioning a week alongside your pole classes, you’ll notice improvements in your strength and ability much faster. They’ll also do wonders for your form and technique meaning you’re less likely to obtain an injury. A lot of times dancers can get into a move no problem but hurt themselves coming out of it due to lack of good form. Rather than jumping or awkwardly scrambling off the pole, try to remain controlled and to keep your core engaged. If you’re unsure, always ask your instructor the best way to safely get back to the ground. A strong and purposeful dismount is just as important as the entry and let’s be honest, looks far more impressive.


So, what do we mean exactly by conditioning? There are so many different exercises out there which can strengthen your body and whilst it’s great to have variation it can also feel a tad overwhelming. Try breaking it down into different muscle groups and have one or two exercises up your sleeve which will target each area. It can help to have specific goals in mind, for example if you’re looking to achieve a strong deadlift invert, exercises which target your lower abs and quads will be the most beneficial. If you’re a lover of heels choreography, take the advice of Dr Carolina Are (@bloggeronthepole) and start conditioning those ankles during your warmup. Before you know it, walking in 8” shoes will feel like walking on air.
A lot of pole dancers choose to invest in their own pole for the house which Dr Carolina Arc attests made it much easier to fit training into her schedule and allowed to her practice more frequently. After all, it’s hard to forget about conditioning when you’ve got to walk past a 45mm steel pole every day on your way to the bathroom. ‘By having a house pole I could repeat the conditioning exercises I learnt in class, building a stable “strength bank”.’ It can be a blessing for those who don’t have time to travel to the studio two or three times a week and also a cheaper alternative in the long run. But this isn’t always an accessible option for everyone. Fear not though, there are a multitude of ways to train your muscles for dancing with or without a pole. Strength conditioning can look different for everyone, some may use a pole, others use equipment in the gym and some utilise their own body weight at home. So really there are no excuses. Sorry if you thought you were getting off the hook there. Whatever way you choose to train, make sure you tailor it to suit you and your lifestyle because at the end of the day that’s how you’ll stay consistent.


Believe it or not, conditioning doesn’t have to be a chore, remember these workouts should be challenging but enjoyable otherwise, what’s the point? PJ ambassadors Gio (@bendygio) and Jazzy (@jazzykpole) both commented on how they like to combine their conditioning into combos and drills to make training more flowy and playful.
"For me personally I try to integrate strength training into my pole warm up. So, I do it automatically and get my body ready for pole at the same time. I also try to make up fun moves and transitions with my own body weight to do strength training in a more playful way" Gio
"Play with strength moves and make them dance/pretty. Variations are just as pretty and by finding shapes and moving through them in a more playful way, stay more consistent and have fun doing it" - Jazzy
Practicing combos is a great way to work on your cardiovascular fitness, especially when up the pole. Set yourself a challenge and time how long you can continuously transition between moves without stopping. Try this once a week and witness your progress! Using a timer with a sequence of drills is another affective way to structure your conditioning and will help keep you motivated. Want to try training reps and drills but don’t know how to structure it? Grab a pair of our Enviro Co. strength training dice and let fate choose your next exercise.
Pole dancing without grip aid is a great way to improve your hand strength but there are also benefits to utilising it now and then. Training with products like Girlie Grip, Griptinite, Xdry etc will allow you to focus on your engagement and form, without having to worry about sliding down the pole. In the summer heat especially, conditioning can often feel like you’re fighting a losing battle but with these sweat absorbing chalks you’ll be able to squeeze in one or two extra reps!
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If you’re ever feeling disillusioned when it comes to conditioning, have a browse on YouTube, there are countless tutorial videos out there for both on and off the pole exercises which should inspire you. If you prefer to work out with someone, have a look at our very own ambassador Kheanna Walker’s online conditioning classes which are bound to challenge and motivate you on your pole fitness journey.

Cross training

Our next tip on how to increase your strength is to take up cross training i.e adding another form of activity to your regime that compliments and supports what you already do. Cross training has been proven to have significant benefits including injury prevention, improved mobility, stability, motivation and general fitness. It allows you to work other muscles which your core form of training may not target resulting in an overall stronger and more balanced body. Implementing variety into your schedule can help keep your pole training fun and fulfilling whilst teaching your body to adapt to different styles of movement. PJ ambassador Regina Marie (@reginaamariee) commented that adding cross training into her routine was a big contributor to her pole progression:

‘Handstand and flexibility training was a game changer for me in the beginning of my journey’ - Regina

Whether it’s running, weightlifting, climbing, cycling, swimming, yoga or whatever else, by combining it alongside your pole sessions, you will see massive improvements in your strength. Who says you can only have one hobby, right?

Rest and rehab

This next piece of advice may seem counterproductive but believe us when we say it’s fundamental to any sport or form of training. Make sure you’re taking rest days, and when I say rest days, I don’t mean just replacing pole class with a body HITT session instead, I mean REST. During exercise, especially something as strenuous as pole, the muscle tissue in the body stretches and produces microscopic tears (perfectly normal don’t worry!) This explains why you may feel a tad stiff and tender the next day. But by taking rest days, you allow cells called fibroblasts to repair and grow those muscles resulting in a stronger body and mind overall. If you’re a fanatic for staying active, this may feel like a difficult practice to adapt to but taking a day off exercise doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sofa all day. You can always have an active rest day by going for a long walk or practicing some light stretching at home. Training 7 days a week when your sore and fatigued will not only slow down your progress but will also leave you more susceptible to injury. Training 1-2 times a week, fully rested and energised will always be more productive than the latter.

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When it comes to pole, it’s not just your muscles that require weekly relief but also your skin. Pole dancers literally defy gravity using only their skin to grip onto the pole so it makes sense to let it breathe once and while. You can promote your skin’s health and recovery with a number of our Grip and Glow aftercare products. These arnica gels and infused body scrubs are bursting with natural ingredients which work to revitalise and soothe any bruising or inflammation left after an intense session.

Stretching

Whether you do partake in strenuous activity or not, stretching daily is recommended for everyone to improve general mobility and blood circulation. For something that takes only 10-15 minutes a day, the benefits of it are colossal! It improves your posture, prevents injury, increases range of motion in your joints and muscles, helps reduce stress and much more. The further you advance with pole the more you’ll discover being that touch bit more flexible a blessing. 

Getting uber bendy doesn’t happen overnight though, it takes time and consistency and at first it may be difficult to notice any progress but trust us the process will be worth it. Try taking progress pics at the start, even if you think you look stiff or can’t quite grab your foot in that ballerina position, you’ll be thankful for them later when they prove to you how far you’ve come. You can help yourself along the way using elastic bands like our Lunalae rubber training resistance band from our accessories collection. Alternatively, you can help turn stretch practice into a fun game with our Enviro co. flexibility training dice.

Eat, sleep, drink repeat

Before you roll your eyes at us for stating the obvious, it has to be said that hydrating, eating enough food and getting plenty shut eye are crucial for a functioning and energised body, even more so when your goal is to build strength. Too many times, we see dancers get so enthralled and wrapped up in learning new moves and spins that they prioritise training over basic needs like quality sleep and low and behold, they end up burning themselves out. No matter how hard or frequently you train, if you’re not getting enough sleep, you may find your progression coming to a standstill or even depleting. Apart from the fact you won’t have the energy to train efficiently the next day, without quality sleep your muscles will be missing out on crucial growth and repair hormones released during the non-R.E.M stage of your sleep cycle. Not to mention you’ll just be in a bad mood and that’s no fun for anyone. We won’t bore you too much with the scientific details but to put it simply, getting those 7-9 hours of sleep a night will gear you up for a better day, rejuvenate and restore your body and support your mental health. So maybe it’s time to skip that afternoon coffee and stop scrolling through Instagram reels till the late hours.


Drinking water and eating well are also crucial for keeping your energy and mood levels up. Make sure to take a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go to ensure your sipping enough throughout the day. You can stay hydrated whilst reminding everyone you’re a super cool pole dancer with one of our brand-new Pole Junkie personalised water bottles! Make sure you’re eating enough of the right food to help fuel a strong body, not to say that there are inherently good or bad foods but eating balanced meals with plenty protein, carbohydrates, fibre and healthy fats will keep you full and energised for much longer as opposed to a diet consisting of mainly processed foods. Try to have a snack at least one hour before training to stop yourself feeling dizzy or fatigued during all that spinning and climbing.  

Mind over matter

Now, we are by no means claiming you need to follow every single one of these tips in order to become a stronger pole dancer. At the end of the day, pole dancing is about doing something you love and finding joy in movement, not about following a strict set of instructions. Our final key piece of advice comes from Kheanna Walker who advocates for prioritising mental wellbeing, noting that everyone, even her and her fellow PJ ambassadors may struggle from time to time:

"What you see on Instagram is just highlights- what goes on behind the scenes is a lot of fails, repetition and sometimes even lack of motivation and drive…but if you want it bad enough, you can do amazing! Your mind is your biggest asset but also your biggest enemy. Mental fitness is no different than physical fitness. You need to work on your mindset if you want to be a successful pole dancer" - Kheanna

The saying goes, everything in moderation and it’s absolutely true. Just incorporating one or two of our tips will make a world of difference to your pole strength without bringing a halt to your social life. No one has the ‘perfect’ routine and though consistency is important, let’s be realistic here, we all have off weeks. This is simply a result of being human, take the break and then get back to it. Continuing to show up for yourself that is strength in itself.