The Honest Truth About Push-Ups for Pole

Updated: Feb 24, 2019


The push-up is not the most beloved of exercises, but most of us enjoy the results of doing push-ups: strong upper body and core, better endurance and lovely toned arms. Polers and aerialists generally use the push-up with gusto, from warm-ups, to strength training to home workouts. It’s common to be doing push-ups at least once a week, and as with most strength building exercises there are pluses and minuses to the push-up. More specifically, pluses and minuses for aerialists and polers.


The positive of the push-up is that is a fairly accessible move that trains multiple groups of muscle. Personal trainers rely on the push-up for upper body strength building and core. The push-up also works the pecs, triceps and shoulder girdle muscles, plus the abs muscles. It’s efficient and push-ups can be done pretty much anywhere. If you are just beginning with pole and aerial the push-up is a fantastic move to throw into your weekly workouts. Push-ups can strengthen the same muscles you need to pull into most moves on the pole like inversion, shoulder mounts, even climbing. The pecs are one of the most worked muscles in aerial and pole, the push-up can help you get your pecs strong.


The downside of push-ups is less discussed. Overall, push-ups are good, however if you are training four or more days a week you may need to actually skip the push-ups. When we train pole and aerial at a high level we are going through repeat movements in the muscles. In pole this frequently means over used pecs and lats. Every lifting motion on the pole or apparatus usually requires some engagement form the pecs. The simple act of climbing a pole or doing an inversion requires the pecs to fire. If we are already training the pecs hard, adding more training to the pecs in the form of a push-up may actually be detrimental to our bodies. Too much repeat muscle work may lead to imbalances of over developed pecs. The overdeveloped pecs and strain other parts of the shoulder girdle and cause pain in areas around the shoulders and neck. Neck pain, upper back pain and shoulder muscular pain can all be related to over developed and tight pecs.

So let’s talk about push-up form. There are different types of push-ups that work the involved muscles in slightly different patterns. Let’s focus on the classic push-up and get our form stellar in the move before getting fancy. As with most strength work, we need good form to get better and stay safe.


First off let’s look at arm alignment, the shoulders should be over the wrists. Check that the elbows are not flaring out but are tucked in toward the body


Second the body should be flat like a board. It is common to want to lift the hips or let the hips sag down. This usually happens when a person gets tired and loses form when this happens, it is time to be the smarter pole dancer or aerialist and modify.


Correct Form Modified  Push-up

The basic modification is letting the knees drop from the plank position. This modification still had a long flat back and will require ab work. Being aware when your form is not great in a push-up is important for preventing injury. It’s no fun to have to stop poling or doing aerial because of a shoulder injury from push-ups.


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