Busting the Myths About Upper Body Strength and Pole Dance

          “I can’t pole dance! I don’t have any upper body strength!” This is quite possibly the number one reason I hear from women who are hesitant to try pole dance. And I can relate. I was once one of these women. When I started pole dancing, I was about 30 lbs. over my normal weight and the thought of climbing up a pole was terrifying! I was so out of shape climbing the stairs seemed hard enough let alone a metal pole. I decided to take the plunge anyways and after my first class I was sore as heck! I had no idea what muscles I used but boy did they get activated pole dancing. My lack of upper body strength did not hurt me at all in that first class. I want to dispel some myths about upper body strength and how it relates to pole dance.

            First things first. Pole dance requires way more than upper body strength! It is natural to see the aerial tricks and think upper body strength is what you need but you need other muscles too! Pole dancing absolutely requires the use of your shoulders and arms, however you also need a strong core, legs, and good balance for pole dance! So, guess what? If you are solid in any of these other areas, you can pole dance! You don’t start to engage your upper body until you are well into your pole dance career so you don’t need to be super strong to start. Whatever upper body strength you have right now will do. A lot of the control and good form pole dancers have comes directly from a strong core, I mean your core does kind of hold your entire body together so it makes sense that it is used a lot while dancing. All the muscles in your body are used when pole dancing so it doesn’t make sense to say you can’t pole dance when you are lacking just one. Focus on your entire body, not just your upper body.

            Say it with me. “I do not need upper body strength to start pole dancing. I do not need upper body strength to start pole dancing. I do not need upper body strength to start pole dancing.” And one more time “I do not need upper body strength to start pole dancing.” A lot of success in pole dancing comes from having proper form and technique and not strength. There are students who try and go upside down but aren’t successful at it and can’t figure out way. The student feels strong enough to do it, but just can’t get up. Many times, this is happening because the student hasn’t been shown the proper technique. This goes for many moves in pole dance. Once you get the technique, the moves will come much easier. Focusing on the technique in pole dance is so important. It will totally save you when you are up in the air and can’t figure out how to get down. The more you practice your technique the stronger you get. The more you start to pole dance the stronger you get. Think about it like training for a marathon. If you have never run a day in your life, the first practice for your marathon is going to be awful but you keep practicing and eventually your running gets better. Pole dancing is like any new skill. You might suck at it your first time and not be able to hold yourself up, but the more you do it the stronger you get.

            There are plenty of exercises you can do at home with no pole to prepare your body for pole dance. I am going to break this down by body area.

For Upper Body Strength

  • Push-ups. Yep good old fashioned push-ups are one of the best exercises you can do for your upper body. Try different variations of push-ups such as triceps push-ups or diamond push-ups to push (pun intended) yourself.
  • Tricep dips. You can do these from sitting on a chair or a couch. Always remember when you are dipping to keep those elbows in towards your body. This position activates the triceps to get them stronger.

For Core Strength

  • Planks. Hold that plank position for as long as you can! Start with 15 seconds and increase that time by 15 seconds every week until you can hold it a minute.
  • Various crunches or sit-ups. Any variation of crunches or sit-ups. Have at it! Start with 5 reps and then increase by 5. 15 reps are ideal.

For Leg Strength

  • Lunges and squats. Squat it out and do some lunges to work on your leg strength. Your legs contain some of the largest muscles in your body so you can start with 10 reps and work your way up to 20!
  • Wall sits. Remember to keep your entire back on the wall. Start with 15 seconds and increase that time by 15 seconds until you can hold it a minute.

These exercises are great for pole dancing and will have you feeling more confident about learning how to pole dance!

            Lack of upper body strength should not be a concern if you would like to try pole dancing. If you can walk or twerk in the club, you can pole dance. Focus on your entire body rather than just your upper strength, have great technique, and use the exercises in this post to get stronger and no longer be afraid of trying. Your perceived lack of upper strength is a hurdle you can quickly overcome with these tips!