Weightlifting for Aerial & Pole -- The 20 Minute Lower Body Workout

Updated: Apr 3, 2019


Why You Need to be Weight Lifting (Part 2)

(Check out part one)

Today we are talking about a weight training workout for any aerialist or poler who has unbalanced sides of the body. Our Focus: Lower Body Single Side Isolation.

I came across a recent spate of selfie photos, quite unfortunately because I sure wasn’t seeking them, with pole, aerial and cross fit ladies flexing for the camera and it was frightening. First, because I consider flexing photos (where you are actually serious) the crowning achievement of narcissism and second because these ladies were so uneven in muscle development from right to left and they had no clue. Now it is really difficult to even out the right and left in muscle development, I understand and that is why I have written this post and last week’s post Why You Need to Be Weightlifting (Part 1 ). This post focuses on the upper body embalances the happen from repeat movement in pole and aerial arts.

No matter how good we are about working both sides, we are likely imbalanced.

Uneven development does not just occur in the upper body. It is very easy to get out of balance or to start having alignment issues in the lower body. The body is so amazingly connected; tightness is a shoulder blade on the left can translate to tight hip flexors on the right side. If we don’t address balancing both sides, we will end up with so many problems.

Some common issues with imbalanced sides

  • Tightness in one side, weakness in the opposing muscle group

  • Balance and reflexes that are stronger on one side and weaker on the other

  • Long term alignment issues that will catch up with you

The Plan

They way we are going to address these issues is with single side isolation workout. We are going to focus on the lower body. By approaching one side at a time we can build the muscle evenly. We also allow ourselves to work on balance and strength and not let the dominating side take on the brunt of the work. Don’t be surprised if the non-dominate is way weaker, and has less balance and reflexes. It is important to watch form and pay attention when your body gets tired, especially on the less strong side.

Briefly: How to balance the upper body

  • Look at last week’s workout

  • Make yourself do everything on both sides and perhaps add a little extra on the non-dominate, because, come on, are we every really that fair.

  • If you are an instructor, try teaching most of your class on your non-dominate to compensate for when you actually train ( When we are trying new moves we may working both sides, but in the end we always do more attempts on the dominate.)

The Workout ( Lower Body)

All exercises are 3 sets of 12 reps. You should be struggling to get between 10 to 12 reps. When your weights are heavy enough, you should barely make it to twelve, that means you are creating new muscle fiber, and building muscles in the less developed areas. The legs can usually take more weight then the arms. No five pound weights! You can choose regular dead lifts or single leg dead lifts, you do not have to do both.

Single Leg Squat

Shift your weight into your right side and balance with the left toe, you can also lift the left leg out in front and balance. Bring the weights by your sides or on the shoulders ( I like shoulders, because I think it makes people have better form). Keep the chest up and sit back into a squat, using the right leg to perform the squat. We are working quads, hamstrings, glutes as major muscles. ( Note: I am tall, so my lever system is different, it is very difficult for tall people to go super low and they really shouldn’t because of the joint pressure. Find where your unique body needs to go.)


  • Sit into the heels

  • Keep the knee over the ankle

  • If you have a mirror you should be able to see your belly button the entire time.

  • Watch that the left foot does not taking on weight, it is just for balance. Do the other side!

Lunges

Step Wide into a lunge stance. Weights can be on the shoulders or by the sides. Engage the core and keep the chest lifted. Lower straight down and up with the torso into a lunge. You will feel this in the quads, but think about using the hamstrings and glutes on the back leg.


  • The front knee should be over the ankle.

  • Keep the torso in the middle of the legs and go straight down and up

  • Watch the knee tracking, the front knee should not roll inward

Dead lifts

The dead lift is tricky at firsts because it is not a natural movement, it does however work the back side of the body in a magnificent way. Begin hip width apart, soften the knees and let the weights come down to right below the knees. Gently straighten the legs, not locking the knees, and hinge at the hips to come up to standing with a flat back. Use the hamstrings, glutes and a little bit of low back at the top. We tend to work the front side of our bodies and forget about the back this will help.


  • Hinge at the hips to activate the backside leg muscles

  • Do not lock the knees

  • Take these slow and think about the muscles being used

  • Come up with a flat back to help the glutes activate

Single Leg Dead Lift

The single leg dead lift is the same movement as the regular dead lift but with focus on one side. It works the same muscles, but focuses on a single side which is really good for balancing out the body. Start in a splits stance, the weight is on the front foot, perform the dead lift movement, hinging and flattening to standing. The front leg does all the work.


  • Watch that you don’t cheat and begin taking weight into the back toe.

  • Hinge and flatten

Leg Lifted Variation

This is a harder balance move and more advanced way to do the single-leg dead lift. Only do this version if your balance is good and you are performing the dead lift correctly. It is the more advanced student who knows their limits.


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