Updated: Feb 21, 2019
The best way to train a sport is to do the sport and pole and aerial arts are prime examples. You will not get hard moves if you do not practice and work on them. However, cross training with activities that enhance your abilities on the apparatus can help you achieve moves or gain strength and endurance.
We break our cross training into three categories based on the the three elements of fitness: cardio, strength and flexibility. It is super easy to overtrain and you definitely want to be taking rest days. Cross training can help prevent overtraining by taking you off the apparatus and resting those muscles most in use. Do not be afraid to take an entire day off of everything.
Great Cardio for Aerialists
We try for cardio at least three times a week and go for 45 to 60 minutes on average. Since we are in the Colorado Rockies, when mountain bike season heats up we do more cardio. Start your cardio program at two to three times a week. Cardio will increase your endurance for routines and training.
Running - This does not mean marathons, but start with a few miles and build up your endurance. Strengthening the leg muscles and core while running can help balance the body for aerial arts. Running can increase agility as well.
Cycling - Cycling is great because it works the lungs and lower body and tends to be less demanding on the upper body. Mountain biking does require more upper body, but road cycling and Indoor cycling classes are a great option too. You will burn massive calories.
Hiking - Hiking is a great alternative to running. Hiking builds cardio endurance and your booty and legs. There is less work in the upper body and the aerial arts muscles get a break.
Great Strength Training for Aerialists
We have talked about strength training is several blogs. Weight Training for pole and aerial arts and weight lifting part two. These posts explain more about what muscles need the lifting and what muscles need to rest if you are an aerialist. Strength training with free weights or body weight can help your reach the next move by giving you the muscle power and strength to hold onto a move longer or hold your body in a position longer. We recommend weight training twice a week to start, but make sure you have a plan.
Train the Underdeveloped Muscles
Many of our posts discuss the overdeveloped and underdeveloped muscle situations that happen in aerial arts and pole. Go read the weightlifting posts to find out more.
Again we have a great post on Core Training on this. Add extra core moves into your aerial workouts or when you cross train.
Mix up your workouts with High Intensity Interval Training, you can make your workouts more cardio-based or weight training based. We have a post of HITT for aerial arts, but HITT can be traditional strength and cardio involving traditional fitness equipment.
Great Flexibility Choices for Aerialists
Flexibility is easy to skip in a workout and slides down the priority list quickly. If you think of the body needing a balance of cardio, strength and flexibility consider how much time you spend on cardio and strength and how much on flexibility. Is it possible to increase the flexibility training to a more equal footing with cardio and strength? I stretch for 3 to 4 hours a week, and I take online stretch class that keep me accountable.
Stretch Class or Self Stretching
If you have flex classes available at your studio or in your city take them. Make it an appointment with yourself. If you are a self-motivated person take time a least three times a week for long stretch sessions, the best time is after you are warm and have worked out. Give yourself a proper dynamic warm-up before stretching.
If you are motivated by a group environment try yoga.There are tons of varieties of yoga check them out and find out what you like best. The power vinyasa classes will add strength training and it is easy to overdo it with power yoga. If you are training three days or more of pole or aerial you do not need to add a ton of push-ups to your routine. Power yoga will often include lots chatarangas ( the yoga push-up). Try slow flow vinyasa, yin yoga or a less intense form of vinyasa yoga. If you try hot yoga, just know you need to be the bigger athlete and listen to your body. Try not to over stretch and ease into a hot yoga practice. If the teacher tells you to lock your knees or joints out or to push to your max in a stretch, know this is contraindicated by exercise and sports science and your chance of injury is greatly increased.