“I want my Ayesha – like, yesterday!” – every pole dancer ever!
Hey, I’ve been there too. I was SO desperate to get this trick when I started poling. But remember that the Ayesha is an advanced move. Slowly and consistently layering progressions over time is not only the safest but also the most efficient way to build strength. Yay consistency!
But let’s break the Ayesha down a little bit. It requires:
A good range of overhead mobility ✔ (more on that in my Anatomy of Ayesha blog!)
Overhead pushing strength ✔
Horizontal pulling strength ✔
Awesome shoulder stability ✔
Ninja-level core strength ✔
Good active hamstring flexibility and strong quads to keep the legs straight. ✔
Exercises that work on all of these aspects (off the pole) will be super helpful. Of course, ‘on the pole’ progressions are important, too (this is a skill requiring technique, after all), but while we are all waiting for our pole studios to re-open, there is SO MUCH work you can be doing to lay some Ayesha foundations so that when those studio doors swing back open, you’ll be primed and ready to nail those Ayesha pole progressions.
Here are some of my favourite off the pole exercises for building Ayesha strength that I PROMISE will really boost your progress with this move.
Exercise 1: Bottom arm conditioning for Ayesha
This exercise will help you to build awareness of – and strengthen – the shoulder engagement needed for the bottom arm. You’ll notice that the end position in this exercise is the same triangle shape we make with our body on the pole. Yay specific strength training!
Really focus on the ‘push’ coming from your shoulder, and not from your hand/arm – it will help you to feel and engage the muscles that upwardly rotate the scapular, which is important in our overhead pressing position.
If you do not have the mobility get your arm comfortably overhead, take some time to work on your overhead mobility instead!
Exercise 2: Top arm conditioning for Ayesha
Horizontal pulling is gonna be your friend for this one!
Here are a few options for those who are training at home:
If you have a suspension trainer, bodyweight rows are perfect for this.
No suspension trainer? Here’s an alternative you can do with a resistance band. Obviously, we’re not putting our whole weight into this, so it’s less challenging, but this doesn’t mean it is a lesser exercise. We’re still engaging the same muscles and greasing the wheels for our Ayesha engagement.
No resistance band? Just find something you can use as a weight – if you don’t have dumbbells, bottles of water work pretty well – or get creative! I’d love to see buckets filled with household objects and random weighty items being pulled by pole dancers around the world! 🙂
BONUS! Progression for exercise 1 and 2: Top AND bottom arm conditioning – whaaaaat?
This exercise may look weird, but, hey, we’re pole dancers – we were born for weird!
This is to be used as a progression from exercises 1 and 2, when you are comfortable with the engagement required for the both the push and pull, now we are going to combine them together!
I’m using a pole in this video for the pull, but you can do the same pull using a suspension trainer, or your resistance band tied to an anchor point, like in exercise 2.
Exercise 4: Leg strength for the Ayesha
Full disclosure – this one is kinda evil! Here, we are working the quad strength required to keep our legs straight in the Ayesha, as well as hip flexor strength for the active hamstring flexibility that will allow us to make beautiful pike and straddle positions with our legs in the air.
Grit your teeth, think of the pretty – and thank me later!
Exercise 5: Core strength for the Ayesha
If you cannot yet hold a really solid basic plank for 1 minute x 3 sets, I would recommend working on that first, before starting to add these kinds of plank variations to your training.
Removing one hand in our plank position adds an anti-rotation element to it, which is great for training the core control and stability you’ll need if you wanna boss your Ayesha.
Your Ayesha home workout
How to scoop all of this awesomeness up into a workout? The easiest way is to do them in a circuit. Perform each exercise for 10 reps, resting when you need to, to keep good form. Rest for 30-60 seconds at the end of the circuit, then repeat this twice more through to make 3 circuits in total.
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!