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How to structure your pole training practice session

Fiona Perso

Posted on December 23 2018

We’re all guilty of it. We rock up to pole dance training with lots of good intentions but no real idea of what we want to work on. Then we spend half the time just standing around thinking of what we should be doing, or chatting to friends. If we want to get more out of our pole training sessions, then like any other work out, we need a plan of attack. I find it works best if I write down what I want to work on beforehand. Follow the same structure that you would in pole class with your instructors. There’s a reason that pole dance classes are structured the way they are. One for safety, and two, to optimise the training time available.

Warm up – Don’t skip or be stingy with your warm up time. Your warm up should be a minimum of 10 mins, 15 mins is better, especially if you’re planning on doing bendy tricks. A good warm up will protect you from injury and help you get the most out of your pole session. Don’t feel the need to do anything fancy or think up anything yourself, just follow the formula that your instructors use during class, they know what they’re doing. Make sure you incorporate all the major muscle groups, then you can spend a few extra minutes on specific areas if you need to. If you plan on working on bendy back contortion like things, make sure you spend enough time warming up your back and shoulders.

Conditioning – Do some reps of the basic pole moves before you start moving onto your intended training. Depending on what pole level you’re at this may be stationary knee lifts, pole climbs, inverts, silks climbs, should mount tucks. But whatever it is set yourself a goal number, eg I’m going to do 3 knee tucks on each side for two sets. And use your conditioning time to really focus on engaging the correct muscles. Shoulders back and down, legs locked out straight, pointed feet and toes.

Training – It may just be one pole trick that you want to work on, or it may be a combo, but again I find it best to set a number. My number is usually 3. And train both sides!!!! This can’t be emphasised enough. Even if you can’t do the whole trick or combo on your bad side, make sure you at least try. If you only train one side of your body the majority of the time then you will create muscular imbalances which will lead to injury eventually. Plus, you may surprise yourself and find that certain pole moves work better on the other side.

Cool down – At the very least make sure you give your arms a bit of a stretch out after pole class, your body will thank you for it later. Arms, chest, shoulders and upper back are the stretches I always do religiously after pole class or training. After pole training can be a really great time to work on improving your flexibility because you’re already warm from training and can just get right into it.

 VIP – Very Important Points

  • Unless you’re a qualified instructor, don’t teach other students during training sessions at your pole dance studio. For really simple things, like hand or leg placement you’re probably ok to give a pointer or two, but the last thing you want is for someone to injure themselves while you’re trying to teach them something. There’s usually an instructor on duty, direct people to ask them for any advice needed. Same goes for spotting, seek professional help!
  • Be mindful of others in your space and make sure you’re not taking up more than your fair share of space. I have a lot of experience with this because I have really long legs. Whenever I’m training big static power pole moves like phoenixes or ragdolls, I’ll always warn those on the poles around me to watch out for the legs.
  • If you want to film yourself and there’s going to be other people in your video do them the courtesy of asking their permission and respect their answer. Some people aren’t comfortable with being recorded, even if it’s just for personal use and you don’t plan on sharing it.
  • If it’s sketchy, get a mat. Don’t be hero, mats are a lot nicer to land on than the hardwood. These should be available in the majority of pole dance studios.

Here’s an example of one of my training session plans:

Focus: Static pole, phoenix and static rotation

Warm up: Standard leg warm up, use theraband for shoulders, external/internal rotators

Conditioning: Deadlifts and reverse grabs

Training: Cup grip phoenix, twisty grip phoenix, brass monkey, butterfly flip

Cool down: Stretch, chest, lats, shoulders and upper back

What are your tips for getting the most our of your pole training sessions?

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