One of the best ways to help increase your pole growth is by strengthening your core. Our cores are just that: the core of all of our movement. They connect our limbs to our torso and help stabilize the crazy things we ask our bodies to do. By taking the time to do extra core exercises a couple times a week, you’ll be amazed at the overall change in your body’s strength and ability to move…and master control over your movements! Here are a few of my favorites, along with a few modifications that can make them more or less difficult depending on your current strength.
- Flirty Booty & Plows: Flirty Booty is a great low ab strengthener, and a great way to build the strength needed if you aren’t ready to do a full plow yet! Start lying on your back with both feet pointed toward the ceiling. Lift both legs (and your booty upward), and then as you lower shift your hips to one side and point one knee to the opposite shoulder. As you lower try to control the descent rather than plop down! Then repeat, swiveling to the other side. This is a relatively small and quick action so you can do plenty of these in a row! Try for sets of 20!
Plows are a great way to coordinate your core strength with leg movement, which is crucial for any poler who is working toward inverting, or cleaning up their inverts! Start in the same position as your Flirty Booty’s, on your back with both feet pointed to the ceiling. Press both hands into the floor next to your hips. Start pulling your legs toward your face and continue guiding your toes over your head as your hips lift off the ground until you reach your highest point. Continue pressing your hands into the ground as you roll back down. Control your descent and work to individually place each vertebrae of your spine back to the ground.
- Toe Taps off Blocks or Roller: By balancing on blocks or a foam roller, you are working all of your core to stabilize your body while doing the exercises. Using a foam roller will add a higher level of difficulty to these exercises than the blocks. To start, stack two yoga blocks on top of each other or lay our foam roller lengthwise on your mat. Sit with your tailbone near the edge of your blocks or roller. Lean back and find your balance by reaching to the ground behind you. Challenge yourself to balance only using your fingertips!
Lift both legs to a small tabletop position hovering above the ground. Then, initiating from your hip, dip one foot to the ground and return it to your tabletop. Make sure you are moving your whole leg down and away from your core and not just bending the lower half to the floor. Alternate legs and try to do 10 on each side. By alternating legs you are training the two sides of your abdominals to work independently of each other, which can be important for creating dynamic transitions on the pole!
Then increase the effort and use your core all together by moving both legs at the same time away from you to touch the floor and back to your tabletop. Repeat 10 times using both legs.
- Bicycles: This is the old ab exercise we all know and love. To get the most out of it be sure to focus on your form! Start lying on your back and pull your bellybutton down to your spine. You can either flatten your spine into the floor for an “imprint” position or keep your core engaged while maintaining a neutral pelvis throughout the exercise.
Lift your knees to a table top and lift not just your head, but your head, neck, AND shoulders off the ground. Be careful in this position that your hands are not pulling forward on your head or neck, but there to take the weight of your head and offer support into the back of your neck if needed. As you pull one knee deeper to your chest and extend the other one away, rotate your shoulders and reach your opposite elbow toward your knee. HOLD this position for 1-2 seconds before returning your shoulders and legs to your central, lifted, tabletop position. Aim for 20 on each side!
- Side Planks: Amp up your side planks with these two variations!
Hip Dips: Start in your side plank, aligning your wrist beneath your shoulder, squeezing your core into a straight line, and keeping your legs slightly forward if you need for balance. Dip your bottom hip to the floor and press it back up. Not only is this great for your obliques, but it also is great for shoulder stability required for many pole tricks and transitions (looking at you, inverted bracket!). Repeat 8-10 times on each side.
Reach through: Follow up your hip dips with a set of reach throughs. Starting in your side plank, reach your top arm under your torso to the back wall, spiraling your body as parallel to the ground as possible. Avoid dropping your hips in this position. Unwind to open your chest back to your side plank position. Repeat 6-8 times on each side.
- Adv: Straddle Levers: Straddle Levers are a super awesome, advanced, core exercise. These can be done in a headstand, forearm stand, or handstand depending on your comfort in each, and get increasingly harder in each position.
Find your “stand” of choice against a wall. Contract your spine back to make as much contact with your back and pelvis to the wall as possible. You want to feel the resistances of the wall on your back. Open your legs to an upright straddle in this position. Then start tucking your pelvis as you lever your toes in the straddle as far toward the floor as you can while maintaining your connection to the wall. Once you’ve reached your lowest point where you feel you can’t maintain your connection any longer, pull your legs to point back to the ceiling.
Repeat this in sets of 5. This is great for your core stability as well as building a lot of strength required for certain types of deadlifts. Your legs may not move far at first, but keep working to increase your range of motion!
While these are a few of my favorite ab exercises, don’t let that deter you from finding your own favorites! Add these exercises and progress through the difficulty options to get the most out of your strength training.