When ever I watch a pole competition or routine I usually know what most of the moves are. Even if I can’t do them yet, they feel like with a lot of hard work, they will be achievable. That is until someone comes along and holds their leg above their head and drops down into box splits… Hmm… Think that one might take a while!
The more routines I watch from winners in each pole category I can find, the more flexible and acrobatic they seem to get. If you think of any well known poler, it is more likely than not that they will be able to get a flat Jade, flat and low Oona splits and might even be able to throw in a back flip for good measure!
Can We Compete?
In order to be a good or great poler, does it automatically now mean that we also need to be super flexible and a great gymnast?
I like to think not! (Or I’d never stand a chance!)
Every poler I know wants to get more flexible – even the ones that seem like they’re made of rubber. A lot of us are practicing our splits and stretches daily but it’s hard to fit everything in. We need to work, gym, pole and stretch as well as live! What then becomes the most important? If we pole, we then have to stretch but if we just stretch with no pole, what’s the point?! (From a polers point of view) It seems to me that we need to be able to dedicate multiple hours a day to our chosen sports, but unless doing that full time, how do you squeeze it in?
Strong Vs Stretchy
In my opinion, another quality that stands out against flexibility is strength. It’s another vicious circle – to get great at pole we need to be super strong yet to nicely achieve a lot of moves we need to be super flexible as well. Hmm… So here’s what I’m thinking… If you can be strong, will that outweigh the need to be flexible – can it be one or the other, if it can’t be both? A Deadlift, Iron X or Muscle Up looks super impressive and we all know (some of us from failing!) how hard they can be. To me, a slow, strong, confident lift is just as amazing as a flat Jade, Oona Split or Rainbow Marchenko.
Of course it would be great to have both of those qualities, but naturally one of them has to come before the other. For me, I think building up my strength is the most important. I have a routine that I’m building in my head where I need to have a few flexible moves but mostly need strong power moves. I figure that once I can hold my Iron X, then I can work on getting my legs out further.
How Flexible Is Too Flexible?
The other thing we have to think about, is that the more we stretch, the more we need to stabilise and therefore strengthen those muscles. Once again it brings us to ‘Can we have one without the other?’ It can be dangerous for us to over stretch or stretch in an unsafe way. (Though that topic is not for this article!) As long as we make sure that we are really protecting ourselves with a combination of stretching and strengthening, then we should be fine.
What Should We Aim For?
Some of you will be thinking ‘But I can already get my leg over my head’ and good for you – I’m jealous! We need to remember that each of us is different. I like to think that I, and most polers, are more flexible and stronger (in a pole sense) than the average human is, in a body weight to strength ratio. I know that I do not excel particularly in either strength or flexibility when compared to other polers. I will continue working on my deadlifts as always, and will focus on stretches for particular pole moves I want to nail, and fit in others when I can.
For the super strong polers out there, why not add in some flexibility training – you will not lose any strength but instead will need to continue your strength training. And for those of you bendy people, it’s time to get strong! Let’s all become super strong and flexible.
Challenge accepted 😀