9 Mistakes That Destroy Your Pole Progress
Feel like you're stuck in a rut? Training hard and not seeing much pole progress?
If that sounds like you, you could be making some easy mistakes that are destroying your training plan. I know I've definitely been guilty of 90% of these over the years!
Knowing where you're going wrong is the first step to fixing the problem though, so worry not 🙂
Today we're going to take a look at 9 common training mistakes you could be making that hinder your pole progress, along with how they affect your training and what to do instead!
What You Will Learn
- Why too much pole is bad for you
- How to make sure your techniques are safe
- Why you need cardio exercise for pole
- Snack ideas to fuel your workout when you're in a rush
- How to keep your pole training fun & interesting
#1) Comparing Your Progress To Other People
Do you compare yourself to others in the pole community?
It's easily done, but a lot of what we see on social media is a huge misrepresentation of our fellow polers skills. That's why there's a big problem here.
It's important to firstly remember how many times it took to get that flawless Instagram picture. You can't see if someone else helped that person into the move or what grip aid (or glue - Stickum I'm looking at you) was used.
Here's how comparing yourself to others hurts your own progress:
- Feeling inadequate
- Loss of self confidence & self esteem
- Loss of motivation
The feelings of inadequacy from spending too long looking at other people's progress can result in a loss of self confidence or self esteem. This in turn destroys our motivation.
Focus on your own journey and your own personal pole goals. Record your achievements and celebrate successes.
If you must compare yourself to the pros think about how they started out and how they got to where they are.
Look up pole dancers who started out with no athletic, gym or dance background. Build a realistic training plan with manageable targets as stepping stones to a long term goal.
With a hobby like pole dancing it's easy to over-train. I was never one to stick it out in the gym but there's something addictive about pole.
It's so addictive that when I first got a pole for my home I found myself accidentally working out for hours and hours and increasing my workout schedule too soon, which doesn't have the progress benefits you might imagine!
Here's what happens when you spend too much time working out:
- Progress regression or plateau
When we over-train our bodies we become tired and lethargic. Tiredness hugely increases your risk of injury when practising pole dancing.
Even if you do manage not to hurt yourself, your tired muscles won't have time to recover so you'll reach a plateau in your progress and in some cases you might even experience regression!
If you think your body is overworked just add an extra rest day or two depending on how much you've overdone things.
Our muscles don't grow and repair while we are training, all of the magic happens in those crucial rest periods in between. So for the best results from your training, have lots of rest and make sure you are giving your body the nutrition it needs.
#3) Skipping The Groundwork & Fundamentals
This is something I usually see when people train from home, usually by watching YouTube videos or copycatting moves from Facebook and Instagram.
The problem with this style of learning is that you often skip the groundwork and technique required to progress safely. So even if you're a powerhouse in the gym you need to start with the basics before leaping into handsprings and working those deadlifts.
If you don't you'll find you end up with these issues:
- Poor technique
- Lack of muscle engagement
- Regression at a later stage when you start to put combos & routines together
When you learn by watching others and dissecting moves for yourself you miss out on crucial tips to make life easier for yourself, including important groundwork on muscle engagement techniques and exercises to build strength.
With a lack of muscle engagement and proper technique comes a high risk of injury.
Missing out other fundamentals such as pirouettes and movement around the pole to make your routines flow smoothly will mean you have to go back to square one if you ever plan to perform or compete, or even get the urge to put a small routine together!
Visit a professional instructor in a studio at least a few times to ensure your techniques are safe and get things off to the right start.
If you don't have a studio nearby, a structured online training program will help to ensure you don't miss out on the fundamentals of pole movement and muscle engagement.
#4) Not Training Cardio
Most pole classes have a set schedule, they vary from class to class but are usually made up of a warm up, some strength training, moving on to spins and then tricks, followed by a cool down.
This doesn't usually include much cardio exercise, which is a problem because lack of cardio causes these issues in our training:
- No stamina/endurance
- Getting tired quickly when creating routines
- Sweat problems
A high resting heart rate is closely linked to excessive sweating, which means as you begin to exercise and increase your heart rate you will sweat more.
Training cardio is great for reducing your resting heart rate which in turn means you won't be so tired or sweat so quickly when you dance or perform.
Train any type of cardio you choose to lower your resting heart rate and increase stamina for routines and performances but beware of how running and high impact cardio workouts affect your flexibility.
Cycling is a great low impact cardio exercise and you can also work on full routines to songs regularly rather than just individual tricks and combos.
#5) Attempting Tricks That Are Too Advanced
Just like I mentioned earlier, we have a big social media problem in the pole industry. It's no one's fault, we love pole and we love to share our progress, so why not?
The problems arise when we see tricks we think we can attempt, because more often than not if you saw it online, that person has perfected it and probably makes it look effortless.
Here's what can happen when you try to get into positions you're not ready for:
- Lack of body awareness
- Overuse and potential injury of your spotter
If you skip pre-requisite moves and try something more advanced that you have seen, more often than not you won't have the required body awareness to get yourself there safely.
Body awareness includes many things such as how to manoeuvre safely around the pole for entry and exit of a trick, knowing your strengths (are you strong enough to safely attempt the move?) and which muscles to engage.
Lacking these skills before attempting a move can result in serious injury, whether muscular or caused by falling from the pole.
It's not just yourself you put at risk either! Spotters are there to guide you, make you feel safe and be there in case of a slip, not to push you up and hold you in a move you aren't quite ready for.
So if you insist on trying things above your skill level, you have the potential to fall suddenly and injure your spotter too.
Ask your instructor who knows your abilities if you are ready to try the move first.
Follow a structured training program and start with steps, floorwork, spins and then move on to tricks. For tricks you should complete most beginner moves before moving up to intermediate and the same for intermediate before moving to advanced.
There are hundreds of tricks out there now but as long as you have nailed the core tricks for each level you should build the required body awareness to progress safely without injury.
If you're learning from home and are self-taught through watching others (not recommended) you can download Pole Dance Community's helpful app for guidelines on difficulty and progression.
For more structured learning if you can't get to a studio I would recommend online training.
#6) Binge Eating Post-Workout
Ever finish your pole training and feel like you could eat an elephant?
I know I do!
That's why it's easy to undo all of your hard work by binge-eating after class, but here's how that slows your progress:
- Struggles with fat loss
- Dependence on reward mentality to workout
When you finish a pole workout you probably notice the smell of food in the air more than usual, I notice this after every class!
Of course, you do need to re-fuel your body after working out, but just because you burned a bunch of calories in class that doesn't mean you can treat yourself to a chinese on the way home, that defeats the point.
Unfortunately, our brains are wired to respond well to rewards for hard work.
This instant gratification does help with motivation but it's terrible if you're aiming for a healthy lifestyle or fat loss as a goal.
When you reward yourself with junk food post-workout you can often end up putting all (if not more) of those calories right back in your body.
If you consume more calories than you burn on any day you will ultimately store fat, whether you workout or not!
Eat healthy but filling foods post workout, including food high in complex carbs (not refined carbs eg; white bread, white pasta) and high in protein.
Another point to remember is that you could also need water, not food. Fatigue is an early sign of dehydration, and can also trick your mind into wanting food.
So drink lots of water to rule out dehydration as the culprit behind your hunger and post-workout binge eating.
#7) Turning Up To Class Hungry
In a rush all the time? No time to eat before class?
Or perhaps if you are working on fat loss you feel like you'll burn more fat if you're hungry?
Unfortunately, working out hungry won't burn more fat, but it will likely affect your training and cause these problems:
If you're hungry you'll hinder your workout, you'll lose energy and feel tired more quickly. When we're low on energy in pole class that can be pretty dangerous and lead to injuries.
If you don't have time to eat a proper meal first, the best thing to do is have a quick pre-workout snack before you go to class.
Personally I like peanut butter and marmite (separately not together!) on whole wheat bread. That gives the perfect mix of protein, vitamin B & complex carbs to give you enough energy to fuel your workout.
#8) Always Doing The Same Routine
I'm guilty of this on days when I'm not feeling it.
I have a go to set of intermediate moves that don't challenge me any more and are pretty much perfected and that's ok to run those occasionally.
There's so many tricks to try and tick off your to-do list in pole that I would definitely recommend having 4-5 tricks that you stick to and perfect over a month or two before moving on to new moves, but you should still try to mix up your routine.
Here's what can happen if you don't:
- Loss of motivation
The problem with spending every class going over the same routine, is that you will eventually experience a plateau and feel like there's a big lack of progress which in turn kills your motivation.
There's a lot to work on in pole, and I don't just mean the tricks! So that makes it really easy to switch up our routines for an effective training plan that will keep us moving onwards and upwards, literally 🙂
As an example week, you can work on tricks and combos one day, dance, floorwork and flow another day, flexibility on another day, full routines and freestyle another day and strengthening/core workouts the next.
That covers at least five days of the week with two days for rest, to always work different areas of the body and keep things interesting too!
#9) Expecting Pole Kisses & Soreness After Every Workout
Do you need to feel sore to feel like you've had a good workout?
The good news is, feeling sore after class isn't a necessity to see results. Here's what will happen if you overdo it in every class:
When you need to feel sore to feel like you've had a good workout, you're more than likely overtraining your body.
As I mentioned up at #2, that leads to fatigue, injury and plateau or even regression.
DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) usually happens if you are brand new to an exercise or if you step up the intensity of your workout, which is why we see it so often in pole as we use such a varied collection of muscle groups for different moves.
If this is happening to you a lot even though you aren't training something new or really stepping up your game you are probably overdoing it. If you're training something hard keep to 3-4 attempts and move on to something else.
Similarly, if you're coming out of pole class black and blue you should take a step back and work on something else.
Bruises in my experience occur only when trying something new because they are caused by bashing the pole and lack of control.
If you are seeing them regularly, not just when trying something new, you could need to work more on strength, control and body awareness. That's not including those of you with super sensitive skin that bruise like a peach of course 🙂
I know lots of these are easily done, and many of you might not have realised you were holding back your progress with these bad habits.
So if you've read any of those and thought to yourself "yep, that sounds like me!" try out my quick fix ideas to transform your pole progress and don't forget to share with your friends in case they are making the same mistakes!
Have you noticed anything else that sets you back in your training that we could learn from?
Let us know in the comments!