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What do we want? Shoulder mounts! When do we want them? Now!

At the risk of coming off like a strutting peacock fanning my pole-prowess feathers and irritating the hell out of everyone who is really struggling with this move (you are not alone, btw), I have to confess that, coming from a heavy strength training background, I actually picked up the lift into shoulder mount quite quickly—although I’m still constantly working on the ‘finesse’ of the move (aren’t we all? Le sigh).

Side note: If it makes you feel any better, it took me about 12 months to get my bloody superman and I’m STILL working on making my inside leg hang look half decent… goddammit! We all have our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to pole; mine just happens to be – strength!

But my point is this – the shoulder mount is pretty much a pure strength pole feat …okay, there might be a little bit of pain tolerance thrown in there when you first start and some hamstring flexibility sprinkled in for good measure—but mostly, we’re talking Bruce Lee-level upper body and core strength. And, let’s face it, that’s what make it so frickin’ badass, right?!

What muscles are involved in a pole shoulder mount?

Let’s take a closer look at what’s involved with this move…

Strength is clearly key, but although you need to build that brute strength to be able to lift into a shoulder mount, like any pole trick, learning how to do it also requires training to build familiarity and confidence with the movement pattern, conditioning your muscles (and your brain!) for the positioning and feel of coming up into your shoulder mount.

Lots of shoulder mount prep exercises involve lifting into tucks from standing, or from the floor, but although those kinds of progressions will obviously be important in your shoulder mount journey (and I always include them in my shoulder mount strength programs), I actually think you can start conditioning the correct muscle engagement and movement pattern waaay before getting to the tuck stage.

So here are three alternative/additional conditioning exercises that you can include in your training programme to help you build that “muscle memory”, and begin to condition and strengthen for your shoulder mount.

These clips are taken from the 60+ videos in my shouldermount strength building program— 6-weeks of on-the-pole, in-the-gym and at-home workouts all designed with one goal – to help you safely nail that shouldermount!

1. Shoulder mount band pull downs

I love this exercise because it works the same movement patterns as your shoulder mount, so it requires engagement of the exact same muscle groups. Doing this movement with a resistance band instead of trying to put our entire bodyweight into means that we can focus on the correct engagement of those muscles and our body and brain can understand and process what that feels like. Repetition of this engagement will condition your body so that when you start to do it UP the pole for reals, your body (the clever little sausage) will automatically swing into action and know exactly what to do. Start with 10 repetitions for 3 sets.

2. Shouldermount tabletops

This is another good exercise to start to condition your shoulder mount. It gets you used to the feel of the pole on your shoulder, without putting all of your weight into it. To start, try 8 to 10 reps, 3 times through. Rest for 30 seconds in between sets. Make sure you do both sides!

3. Stability ball shoulder mount progressions

The idea behind the stability ball is that it should give you just enough support to allow you to perform the movement, but is unstable enough to make it challenging and requires you to engage the same muscles you need to engage when you perform this move without support. It’s harder than it looks – awesome conditioning for your shoulder mount!

Aim for 3 to 5 reps on each side, or, if you are trying to specifically condition the end straddle hold in your shoulder mount, you can tuck both knees in and bring them into your shoulder mount straddle position, pausing at the top for timed intervals (5-10 seconds should be plenty to begin!).

Woah, hold on there tiger…

Please note that the shoulder mount is an advanced move and you need to have a good, strong no-kick invert before you even think about attempting it up the pole.

Just as it’s not big and it’s not clever to kick into your invert, it’s not wise to kick into your shouldermount either. In fact, it’s even more dangerous to use a kick into your shouldermount—if you over-egg your momentum and you don’t have experience of the movement, you can easily lose contact with your shoulder and the pole and, well… let’s just say, that won’t end well.

Please be safe! Safety mats and spotters, people… safety mats and spotters!

Take your time to build the strength and confidence you need to do it safely and as always, let me know how you get on and give me a shout with any questions!

Before you go! If you’d like a full gym and pole conditioning programme with more exercises like these ^ to help you nail that shouldermount, check out my 6-week shouldermount program – it’s a progressive strength building programme that you can download and start today. It contains all the theory, exercise programming and progressions you need to nail your shoulder mount! 

Content on this website is provided for educational/informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should consult your Doctor or Health Care Professional before doing any exercises or fitness programs to determine if they are right for your needs.


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