Cross Training for Pole Dance

Cross Training for Pole Dance
Cross Training for Pole Dancing?
Why cross train for pole dance? Pole dancing as a sport involves several of the
important aspects of fitness: strength training, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance,
muscular endurance and is more of a circuit training/whole body workout than
running or dancing or weight lifting. Why cross train, then?
First, let’s look at what cross training is. Because doing one activity over and over can
result in overuse of certain muscles or muscle groups, and because the body will
adapt and become more and more efficient at whatever sport it is that you
are participating in, cross training is what athletes, both amateur and professional,
will use to reduce:
Burn out
Loss of performance
Limitation of overall fitness improvements
What does cross-training do for you as a pole dancer (and you are an athlete!)?
Improves overall performance in your sport (in this case, pole dancing!)
Takes advantage of the benefits of each training method
Combines a variety of sports/activities/exercises to develop the body
Conditions different muscle groups
Develops new skills
Reduce strain or overuse of certain muscles
So how does this all relate to pole dancing?
Well, doing the same movements over and over will perfect them and make your
routines smooth and efficient; but can you be better? Of course! Your fitness level can
be improved as well as your routines when you train with other sports, activities and
exercises. Your body deserves a break from the pole. Cross training will develop other
areas of your body so that when you come back to the pole, you will be more
balanced, your physique will develop evenly and you will be ready to work the rested
In this eBook I am going to talk about how using various activities, exercises and
sports will improve your pole dancing…and how to incorporate them into your workout
There are four basic fitness areas:
Cardiovascular Endurance (huffing and puffing power!)
Muscular Strength (ability to pull your body weight up, for example)
Muscular Endurance (ability to do a million push-ups without
fatiguing…yeah right!) and last but definitely not least4.
Flexibility (splits!)
1. Cardiovascular Endurance
What it cardiovascular endurance exactly?
It is basically the ability of your heart and lungs to deliver oxygen to your muscles.
Think, ease in running the mile (without side stitches!) or the ability to dance nonstop to all of ACDC’s hits!
Some examples of sports that develop cardiovascular endurance are:
And any other exercise that keeps your heart rate up and does not cross
into anaerobic activity (more on that later)
2. Muscular Strength
How is muscular strength defined?
Muscular strength is the ability of your muscles to exert force. Think clanking metal
plates in the gym or pulling yourself up in a pole hold.
Some examples of sports or physical activities that develop muscular strength are:
Weight training
Push-ups and pull-ups
3. Muscular Endurance
What about muscular endurance?
Muscular endurance is best defined as the ability to exert force without fatigue.
Think of military-style push-up regimens (boot-camp, really?) or pole routines that
involve several tricks for several minutes without rest.
Some examples of exercises that develop muscular endurance are:
Functional training
4. Flexibility
Does flexibility mean you have to do the splits?
Not necessarily. Flexibility is best defined as the range of motion in a joint or joints
and the length of the muscles that are involved in that area. We will talk more about
simple ways to increase your flexibility later.
Some examples of working on your flexibility are:
Simple stretches
(A Few More Helpful Tips for
Cross Training...)
Rest is an absolute need when doing any
type of exercise. Your body needs this
time to repair muscles and strengthen
If rest is skipped, overuse of muscles and
joints occur as well as the risk of injury.
Overtraining syndrome, which some
athletes experience, includes depression,
lack of enthusiasm for the sport, injury
and a decrease in performance. You
definitely don't want these involved in
your passion for pole!
During a time of rest, whether it be a day
or a few days, your body has the chance to rebuild itself and to adapt to the new
stresses you are putting it through, such as a new pole grip, a hard sprint or a weightlifting session. Fluids are replaced as well as your energy stores and body tissues are
Some ways you can rest include:
a good night's sleep
taking some days off from poling
or other exercise
a hot bath with Epsom salts and
drops of calming essential oils such as
chamomile and lavender
a massage
hot stone therapy
“ Always remember that dreams – your creative visualizations – must come before
their physical manifestations.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach
Visualization is a useful tool, skill and process that you can use to create a mental
picture or intention of what you want to happen. Using powerful and colorful images
and emotions while you create this image in your mind helps to cement it and to
make it come to realization. It is said that the more you can feel something that you
are creating or seeing in your mind, the more powerful the desire of your body to
create this experience in reality becomes.
So let's say you are going to
visualize getting the cross-ankle
release down. You may have
surpassed this trick, but for
examples sake, let’s use this
intermediate trick.
Before getting out of bed in the
morning or before going to sleep,
when your mind is open and you
are relaxed, close your eyes and
start thinking about doing this
trick. See yourself on the pole,
inverted, feel the blood rushing
to your head, feel your scalp
tingling a little from the
increased blood, feel the pole
being gripped between your legs,
feel the metal pulling against
your skin, feel your confidence as
in your mind you hold yourself in
this position. Feel the rush as you
let go of the pole with your
hands. Feel the freedom on
hanging upside down in the air. Feel, feel, feel everything you can imagine about
this...feel and experience in your mind a safe dismount. You can even imagine that
you feel the rush of satisfaction and pride at a performance; see the bright lights, the
stage, hear the audience clapping, see that special someone smiling there at you.
Feel your body so powerful and able. And then go and work on your trick again and
see the difference in your performance level.
Using visualization can also clue you in to things you may need to do differently in
"getting" a trick or pose down. Our subconscious minds are powerful tools in
themselves and resources of information about us that processes such as visualization
can help to access.
Dreams also access this part of our mind but dreams are less in our control. The only
way I have been able to access information from my subconscious through dreams is
to ask myself a question that I have not been able to find the answer to before going
to sleep at night. I ask myself a deliberate question that I want the answer to and feel
trust that the answer is already in my mind. Sometimes it has worked.
Setting a Goal
Do your training with an objective in mind. When you go to your pole class or if you
are practicing at home, start out with a plan, a goal, an objective such as: “Today I
will practice the pole sit until I am able to let go with my hands” or “Tonight I will
work on my split grip” instead of just going to free pole class and playing around
practicing what you are already good at.
Training with a goal will help
to push yourself to grow and
learn quicker and then you can
go on and build on your gains.
Some ideas of objectives:
If you are already good
at a specific trick or spin, work
on transitioning in and out of it
Focus on proper posture
and proper muscle usage on a
specific trick or pose
Work on making a move look more effortless and clean
Ask your instructor for pointers because sometimes others can see our mistakes
or unclean lines and then we can have something specific to work on
Cardiovascular Endurance
A closer look at how to incorporate it into your workout schedule
Cardio, the short name for exercise that makes you use your lung power, should be
incorporated into your workouts as a pole dancer. There are several ways to do this. If
you have a favorite sport besides pole dance, such as just dance, running, riding your
bike, hiking or even running hanging out on cardio machines in the gym, then use that
as your cardio development exercise.
Cardio should be done anywhere from 3-5 times a week, depending on your goals. If
you are trying to drop the pounds, shed fat or just strengthen your lungs so you are
less winded during routines, then try 4-5 a week.
A good maintenance schedule is 3 times a week, after you have lost the weight you
want and the rest of your workout time is being taken up with pole routines or other
There are a couple of sports that I highly recommend for pole dancers looking to
incorporate cardio into their workout schedules. Here are my suggestions.
Running is cheap, easy and all you basically need is a good pair of running tennis
shoes. And since running is one of those “strong on bottom” exercises, it is a good
balancing cardio workout for the pole dancer. Pole dancing uses a lot of upper-body
movement and strength so running, which uses the quads, the hamstrings, hips and
glutes is a number one choice.
If you have not been running, even if you are strong,
start out slowly since the impact of running on your
knees and ankles can be harsh if your strength is not
built up slowly. Start out with walk-runs, even if it
feels too easy and your lungs feel like they can take
more. Start with a 20 minute walk-run where you
walk for 4 minutes and run for 1 minute.
If this is too much also at first or if it has been a long
time since you have done any cardio, then you can
lower it down to walking for 4 ½ minutes and
running/jogging for 30 seconds. Do this pattern over
for 20 minutes.
The next week work up to 25 minutes and add in
another 30 seconds to your running time. In no time
at all, you will be running a full 30 minutes or an
hour, however long you would like to go for.
Also, run only 3 times a week or less. It is easy to overtrain when running because you
lose weight quickly, your legs become powerful as well as your lungs and you can get
a great “runner’s high” (a flood of endorphins) and it is easy to get addicted. Pacing
yourself as well as training no more than 3 times a week will keep you from
overtraining and keeping healthy knees, ankles, shins and feet. Shin splints are the
Equipment needed:
Loose, comfortable running clothes such as a t-shirt and shorts
Good running shoes-go to your local sports store and try them on!
Quality running socks
Also, hydrate before and after your run!
Cycling, whether on an indoor gym bike or outdoors on your ten-speed, is perfect to
use along with your running cardio plan. Cycling is aerobic as well
as helping to maintain a good range of leg motion. Cycling also
uses your quads and hamstrings in a different way than when you
are on your feet so the whole muscle, with running and cycling, is
developed fully.
30-45 minutes of cycling 2-3 days a week or splitting your
running workout with cycling, such as 20 minutes or running and
20 minutes of cycling can be effective.
Dancing for cardiovascular fitness has become really popular
as is evident by the Zumba movement as well as the myriad
of dance for fitness dvd’s available. There are many
different styles of fun dance routines that are geared to
keep your heart rate up and go for at least 30 minutes to get
the benefits of a cardio workout. These styles include, hip
hop, burlesque, cardio striptease, ballroom, jazz and music
video styles, just to name a few. An online search for
“dance dvds” will bring back some good results.
You can use a video at home or in the gym as well as take
local classes at a gym or dance studio. Dancing as your
cardio workout can be a fun alternative if things get boring
on a bike or treadmill. Again, aim for 3 times a week and 30
minutes of sweat!
Swimming has long been considered an overall gentle but effective cardiovascular
workout. It is good for those with any body pain, soreness, joint pain or injuries since
it keeps your weight off of
any one part of your body.
If you don’t have a
swimming pool or live near
an ocean or lake, try a
swim in the gym or your
local YMC.
Most communities also
have a swimming pool that
you can take lessons at or
learn along with the kids.
Swimming uses your
shoulders, arms, hips and
even ankles, parts that are great to develop in a gentle way for pole dancing.
Muscular Strength
Building your body smart
Muscular strength again is defined by your muscles ability to exert force against a
physical object. In the sports world, it’s usually measured by how much weight you
can lift whether it is with a dumbbell, barbell, resistance band or your bodyweight.
Again, any muscular strength building exercises should be done on alternating days
and it is good to do on days that you work on hard pole tricks, such as those that
require climbing, hoisting or holding your weight.
Weight Training
Weight training is one of the best ways to build your muscular strength. Lifting
weights that are heavy enough to only be able to do 8-12 repetitions at a time will be
a good starting point for strength training with dumbbells or a barbell and plates.
Lifting progressively heavier weights, even if only 1-2 pounds heavier, will increase
muscle size and strength or the ability to lift heavier with ease the next time.
A very simple, good and popular program to use is what is
called the “5x5” program which many famous bodybuilders
have used as a basic strength building program.
It is called the “5x5” because you do 5 sets of 5 repetitions
of the following exercises:
Overhead press
Barbell/dumbbell rows
Bench press
Do the exercises only on 3 days out of the week and you
can increase the weight you use by 5 lbs every time you workout. This enables you to
slowly and steadily build strength without injury.
Bodyweight Exercises
Bodyweight exercises like push-ups and pull ups (and pole dance!) are excellent for
increasing strength as well. Instead of using iron plates or resistance bands, you use
your own weight.
Install a pull-up bar in a doorway of your home and use
it to build up your shoulder, arm and back strength. This
is a great way to start building strength before pole
dancing, even if you don’t have a pole yet. In many pole
tricks and poses, you are pulling your bodyweight as
well as hoisting it around the pole. This involves a lot of
core and back strength as well.
You can start working on your core with the following
For Rotational Core Strength:
Lying hip swing: Lie on your back on a towel or yoga mat with your legs pointed
straight up at the ceiling and your arms extended out for balance. Keeping your legs
straight and together, swing them all the way to the left. Right before your feet touch
the floor, swing them to the right. Do as many reps as you can while keeping good
V-Ups: Lie on your back and stretch your arms
straight over your head. Silumtaneously lift your arms off of
the ground (keeping them straight) and your legs (keeping
them straight as well), contracting the abs, form a “V” with
your body as you try and reach for your toes. This is also known
as a “Jackknife” sit-up and is explosive and powerful work for your
You can also use a swiss ball as in the illustration here.
Bicycle Crunch: Lie on your back on the floor with your legs bent, feet on the
floor. With your fingertips at your ears (do not hold your head or neck), raise your left
knee and try and touch it with your right elbow. At the same time extend your right
leg straight. Don’t let your feet or head touch the floor. Keep alternating in a
bicycling fashion until you have done 10-20 reps. Build up to doing reps for 2 minutes.
Muscular Endurance
Again, muscular endurance is the ability to
produce maximum force for a maximum
amount of time.
An example of this is a hard sprint or doing
plyometrics, exercises designed to produce
fast and powerful movements such as
jumps and leaps.
Some examples of plyometric exercises
Squat jumps
hurdling objects
push ups with a clap
There are several exercise programs and
DVDs that use plyometrics to gainmuscular
Using kettlebells is also an example of
Flexibility is the range of motion in your joints and
muscles and it can be increased regardless of age,
size or current flexibility.
How to increase it
There is a simple rule to increasing your flexibility:
When performing a stretch, push just to the point of
slight discomfort, not pain, and hold. Muscles will
relax when held in position if held there long enough.
Do not bounce while holding a stretch and remember
to breathe from your abdominal area, not your chest.
Some exercises that increase flexibility include:
Simple stretches
Working on the splits
Here are some pointers on starting to work on
the splits, whether front or side splits:
Your body needs to be warm either from
exercise or a hot bath
Stay hydrated
Stay relaxed
Breathe from the abdomen
See yourself performing the stretchliterally think ‘splits’
Stretch the quads, hamstrings, hips and
Use the traditional ‘runners stretch’
pictured here:
Important to Remember…
The same type of exercise should never be performed for 2 days in a row…or
consecutively. For example, you should not run on Monday and Tuesday and then
weight lift on Wednesday and Thursday.
Your workouts should alternate so that different muscles are being used on different
days and therefore rest is involved. Muscles and joints need time to repair and adapt
for the next workout, hence one of the ideas behind cross-training!
To learn more about pole dancing, visit
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