Well, I did say I love a challenge and you guys didn’t disappoint me with your No Pole Workout requests!
The pole nerd in me LOVES writing these trick-based No Pole workouts! It gives us the perfect excuse to break down the anatomy of a trick and in the process understand exactly what we are asking our bodies to do.
Our bodies are incredible – not just because we’re pole dancers – I mean, that’s a given *hair flip, Blue Steel*, but anatomically incredible! We can create so many beautiful shapes and move in the most creative of ways, but (without wishing to underplay the magic and mystery of movement) when it comes down to it, our movements are made up of some basic, fundamental patterns.
Spotting those patterns in our pole tricks and transitions is the key to being able to create off- the-pole exercises that are super pole-specific.
No matter how seamlessly we choreograph and time them – and no matter how different those movements may look when we dance, we’re really just pushing, pulling, squatting, hip hinging machines…. and BAM there it is – I really DID manage to take the magic out of it! But, hey, my job here is to get you strong at those movements you need to be able to create the magic. Sprinkle your own awesome on it generously!
Anatomy of the Superman
There are a few different entries to superman. I’m demo-ing here the one I believe is most common for beginners – from a horizontal transition.
As you can see from the video, there are a few key components to the superman:
✔ Hip flexion – to release the top leg off the pole
✔ Hip rotation – to bring the top leg from an externally rotated position, to an internally rotated position
✔ Glute strength – to extend the hips and lift the feet towards the ceiling
✔ Quad and adductor strength – to keep the legs straight and maintain a grip on the pole
✔ Shoulder extension mobility and strength – to hold the pole behind us
✔ Thoracic rotation – which helps us to maintain a grip on the pole behind us with our hips pretty much square to the floor!
Here are some exercises that work focus on these different aspects that we can build into our superhero superman workout…
Exercise 1 – Resisted hip flexion
This exercise is specifically conditioning the part of the superman where we take our top leg off the pole and tuck it towards our chest.
Exercise 2 – No pole superman drill (hip flexion and rotation)
After we’ve released the top leg from the pole, we have to rotate it from an externally rotated position into an internally rotated position as we straighten the leg.
In the exercise below, we are drilling this movement pattern, so really visualise performing this movement as if you were on the pole.
Exercise 3 – Glute bridges
When it comes to hip extension, I like to start people off with the ‘Cook hip lift’…
With one leg tucked in, it makes it very difficult to ‘cheat’ with the lower back – so we can really focus on engaging the glutes!
Exercise 4 – Thoracic rotation
Here, we are keeping our hips square and rotating only our upper body. This is an important component of the superman and also a preparation for exercise 5.
Exercise 5 – Superman floor pose
When we rotate into our superman, we take our arm behind us into extension, with our palm facing out to the side. The exercise below creates the same position, using our own leg as resistance so we can recreate the ‘pull’ we use in our pole superman. It also incorporates the upper body rotation that we need for our superman.
Please choose your level wisely – this is a very ‘twisty’ position that you may not be used to, so don’t force it! The idea is to condition our bodies gradually for it, so if in doubt, start with level 1 and build up slowly over the weeks as your body adapts.
Exercise 6 – Superman ball lifts
Here, we’re working our adductors to squeeze the ball, our quads to keep the legs straight – and of course our glutes to lift our legs. This will really help you to recreate the feeling and engagement required for the superman!
Creating your off the pole superman workout!
After a good warm up, you can perform these exercises as a circuit using the reps/timings below as a guide…
- Resisted hip flexion – 10 reps each leg
- No pole superman drill – 5 reps each leg
- Glute bridge – 10 reps each leg
- Thoracic rotation – 5 reps each side
- Superman floor pose – 5 second hold each side
- Superman ball lifts – 10-20 second hold
Rest when you need to, and for 30-60 seconds after each circuit. Do this 3 x through in total. You can view all of these exercises together in the playlist below…
Superhero capes at the ready!
Of course, nailing your superman isn’t just about strength and conditioning! Superman is a skill and a notoriously painful move to achieve! You’ll have to work on the pain tolerance when you’re re-united with your pole, but at least in the meantime you can get your body ready to fly!
Want to know more about how you can strength train for pole – without a pole? Of course you do! 😜 Check out my book Strength and Conditioning for Pole which is available now in paperback or ebook!