Updated: Apr 3, 2019
Strength is obviously a key component in making a break through in pole, however teaching the body the mechanics and how to engage muscles in a proper order also contribute to moving off a plateau. The point of the selected moves in this article are for total body engagement and working on feeling connected to the entire body, or employing complete muscle groups during pole. The goal is to not only connect to the dominant muscles, such as the upper back, but to start uniting the legs, core, and glutes with the dominant muscle groups.
We all understand the concept of a pull-up, but the important factor on the Pencil Pull-up is keeping the body straight and rigid like a pencil facing the pole. It's easy to let the body swing to the side of the pole and not control the lower appendages when attempting this move. The point, again, is total body strength; the Pencil Pull-up should not just require upper body engagement but core and lower body dynamic tension.
Begin with the pole on spin and start in a strong grip facing the pole, align the body parallel to the pole. Using a small amount of momentum to spin the pole, pull-up into a Pencil Pull-up. Keep the body tight and against the pole. Engage the upper back in scapular retraction with shoulder depression (Check out an Article on Proper Engagement for the Shoulders). Hold the body straight and hold for as long as possible to build strength.
One may look at the Layback roll-up and think this is strictly a core move, but that is the hidden secret of the Layback Roll-up; it's a total body move. Clearly, a solid Layback in needed to try this move. From a Pole Sit, slowly roll back into a Layback, make the movement control come from the core and the glutes and legs. From the Layback squeeze the legs strongly on the pole and using the core area (including the lower back muscles and glutes) roll-up to reach the pole in a V-sit or move all the way to a Pole Sit. Then with control, slowly lower back into a layback. Think of a pilates roll-up; the goal is to create slow controlled movement that strengthens the core and attached muscles. There should be a c-shape happening in the spine, or a hollowing of the belly to engage the abs. Start with five roll-ups and roll-downs and build.
Handstand Walk Out to Push-up
Handstands are always taxing strength moves, but adding this handstand exit not only builds strength but requires total body engagement and connection to execute this exit well. From the handstand with the body facing the pole, walk the arms out away from the pole, enough to have room to eventually place the stomach on the ground. The more the body ends up in a push-up position, the better. Engage the core and upper back and keep one shin on the pole, the other leg releases on the pole, dropping the toes to the floor for stability. Dynamic tension the legs, keep the glutes and core active and slowly lower to the floor in a push-up position. Start with five and progress.