If you missed my last post breaking down the anatomy of the Cupid, hightail it over there and check it out now, or watch the short video below for a quick summary!
Now the nerding is over. It’s time to get to work.
As our pole dancing skelly has demonstrated, the Cupid is a trick heavily focused on legs, so that’s exactly where we’ll focus our attention when it comes to strength training for this move. In particular: hip adductor, hamstring and quad strength – the three cupid musketeers!
I’ll take you through 4 exercise suggestions, then at the end I’ll show you how you can pull all these exercises together into your very own ‘Nail that Cupid’ off the pole training session.
First, a note on progressions
I’ve purposely made my exercise suggestions very Cupid-specific, but it goes without saying (but-cha know imma say it anyways!), that if you don’t already have a solid history of leg days behind you, building some solid basics (squats, lunges, deadlifts and glute bridges) into your training routine is going to go a long way to help before you move onto more trick-specific movements like those featured below.
Cupid exercise 1: Hamstrings
My first exercise suggestion is a good old fashioned hamstring curl. If you have access to a leg curl machine at the gym, you can perform the same movement there, but here I’m demoing a resistance band version for those who are training at home or at the pole studio. I like this one as a strength builder for the Cupid as it really isolates and strengthens the hamstrings as knee flexors.
Cupid exercise 2: Quads
This exercise may be a little misleading. In our Cupid, it’s the straight leg on the bottom where the quads are doing most of the work, but in this lateral lunge, it’s the squat pattern of the leg bending and straightening that we’re really focusing on.
Note: there are progressions I’d usually follow before incorporating weighted lateral squats into a client’s programme. If you don’t already include basic squat movement patterns in your training, start with a standard squat, instead.
The lateral squat just adds that extra range of hip abduction which makes sense when working on the Cupid, but it’s not our primary focus with this exercise. So replacing this with either a ‘standard’ squat, a ‘sumo’ style squat or even a lunge still totally works as a quad-focused Cupid strengthener!
Cupid exercise 3: Hamstrings
In this exercise, we’re focusing on that constant isometric ‘squeeze’ around the yoga block while moving the hip through from flexion to extension. If you want to be able to extend your hips more in the Cupid, without relying on that top hand to hold the leg around the pole (remember in my first post how I said this was a little more challenging?), working on maintaining that grip on the yoga block while moving into that extended hip position will help you strengthen this movement pattern.
The freedom of movement we have with the leg in the air means we can also move into a more abducted and externally rotated position, too, to mimic the Cupid positioning a little more. Explore both movements!
Cupid exercise 4: Adductors
You may curse me for the ‘pauses’ in this one, but I’m sorry, not sorry about those. The pauses are all about replicating some of that isometric strength we need to hold the Cupid. You’ll thank me later!
Make sure you build up to moving into your end range gradually! Only go as low as you can confidently control back up – keep the movement small to start with and increase the range as your strength builds!
Creating your off the pole Cupid workout
Here’s how you can put all these exercises together into a little ‘Cupid I’m coming for ya’ circuit:
Warm up: 5 to 8 minutes of any light, heartrate raising activity. + A few minutes of some leg and hip focused mobilisations and activation drills before you get into your workout. My faves are these hip rotations and this lovely hamstring activation drill from my hamstring injuries blog. *Fun fact: hamstrings are reported as one of the most frequently injured areas for pole dancers (after shoulders), so making sure that we’re including some strength and activation work here is usually time well spent.
Strength work: As the main exercises alternate between a hamstring focus, a quad focus and an adductor focus, they make a great superset/circuit.
A good starting point to aim for is: 8 to 10 Hamstring curls / 8 to 10 lateral squats / 8 to 10 glute kickbacks with yoga block squeeze / 5 to 6 Adductor slide outs with pauses
Do one side, then the other, to make one complete ‘circuit’.
Rest when you need, to keep good form!
Repeat to make 3 circuits in total.
Join me for Part 3 of our Cupid series – a little bonus Cupid skill tip which might just help open the door to finding your Cupid sweet spot!
Want to know more about how to programme strength training to help you get stronger for pole? Check out my book, Strength and Conditioning for Pole, which is available now in paperback and immediate ebook download!
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.