6 Awesome Bodyweight Exercises for Pole Dancers

Bodyweight exercises are a really effective and easy way to strengthen your core and complement your pole training. These types of exercises get results partly because they involve compound movements, meaning numerous joints and muscles are involved with each move. Bodyweight movements have been shown to be extremely effective for strength gains and performance improvements.

Our Studio Director, Jennifer Grace has put together a short, complete body workout video including six of her favourite exercises. These exercises are specifically designed to build strength for pole and a great way to cross-train. She recommends going through all six exercises as a circuit and then completing two more circuits. Start with 5 reps per exercise and work your way up to 10 or more. 

Click on the image below to watch the video and continue reading for her hot tips corresponding to each exercise.

Target area: This exercise works the entire body but is great for building strength through the shoulders and arms.
Things to keep in mind:

  • Don't let your lower back sag or butt stick out.
  • Tuck the hips under and pull your lower abdominals in towards your spine.
  • Imagine balancing a broomstick along the length of your body so you have a beautiful straight line from head to toe.

Modification: If this exercise is too difficult or you're feeling pain in your lower back, lower your knees to the floor and work your way up to the more advanced version.

Target Area: Obliques aka side abs and shoulders
Things to keep in mind: 

  • Legs should be bent at a right angle. Thighs are flat to the front and shins flat to the adjacent wall.
  • Stack your shoulder directly over your elbow.

Modification: The bent leg version is the modified version. If you're finding this version too difficult, place your top hand on the floor to assist with pushing up.

Thread the Needle Variation: This can be done with bent legs if the straight leg version is too difficult.

Target area: Lower abdominals
Things to keep in mind: 

  • It's SOOOOO easy to cheat in this one! Try really hard not to swing your legs towards your face to get those hips up.
  • The lift of the hips is really small. Pull your lower abdominals down towards the floor to initiate the lift of the hips.

Target area: Upper and lower back, butt and hamstrings
Things to keep in mind: 

  • Push your pubic bone down into the floor to maintain a good position of the pelvis throughout this exercise.
  • As you lift your upper back from the floor, slightly squeeze the shoulder blades together.
  • Think of broad collar bones to keep the chest and shoulders open through the front.
  • Legs should be at least hip-width apart. If you have lower back issues, then widen the legs a little further.

Modification: If you're finding it too challenging to lift both upper body and legs at the same time, separate the two movements. Focus on lifting the upper first and then try lifting just the legs. 

Target area: Hips, thighs and butt. This is a great hip mobility exercise.
Things to keep in mind: 

  • Focus on keeping a straight back throughout and not pitching forward in your squat.
  • As you lower into your squat, keep your weight back in your heels. A good test for this is to keep toes lifted off the floor throughout the whole exercise.
  • Make sure your knees track over the 3rd and 4th toes as you bend and straighten the legs.

Modification: If you're struggling to keep your heels down on the floor as you lower, then prop a folded yoga mat under the heels for a little elevation. You might also want to try widening your stance. Make sure your toes are slightly turned out.

Target area: Biceps
Things to keep in mind: 

  • You want your arms to really do the work in this one!
  • Keep your chin slightly tucked in.
  • Keep your tummy engaged throughout the whole exercise
  • Don't forget to breathe!

Modification: Pull up half way if you're finding it difficult to pull all the way up to the top. In time, you'll build up more and more strength through your arms. The most important thing is to NOT GIVE UP! 

As you develop more strength and stamina, work your way up to doing the entire circuit 2-3 times per week.

If you'd like to join us for a pole specific strength and conditioning class, we run a CoreFit Athletica class every Saturday and Thursday. This is an open level Pilates style class on the fit-ball. It's a fun unique work-out to strengthen and tone the abs, butt, thighs and back.