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7 Exercises for Pole Dancers (Part 2 of 3)

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7 Strengthening Exercises for Pole Dancers

Lat Pulldowns


Lat pulldowns is a cable machine-based exercise. It is a very similar exercise to the pull-up, except that you are bringing the bar down to you rather than pulling yourself up to it. The benefit of doing the lat pulldown is that you can adjust the resistance.

Lat Pulldowns primarily work the latissimus dorsi muscles of the back, These are the muscles that, when developed, create a V-shape between the armpits and the waist. Known as lats, this muscle provides pulling power.

How to Do It:

  1. When you sit on the lat pulldown machine, you should adjust the leg cushioning to be directly on top of your knees. Your feet should be directly under your knees.
  2. Reach up to grab the bar about shoulder-width apart with an overhand grip.
  3. Pull the bar down to the front of your body. As you do this, pull your shoulders down and away from your ears. Bring the bar down to just above your chest level.
  4. Release the bar under control so that it returns to the start position.
  5. Exhale on the way down and inhale on the way up. Remain nice and tall through the exercise, not arching back.


Prefer to train at home? Check out these home based core exercises.

Incline Push-ups


Incline push-ups work the front side of your upper body, with a focus on the chest and front shoulders. Doing push-ups on an incline makes the exercise easier than doing them on the floor. The higher the bar that you are gripping, the less challenging the exercise is.

Start with a bar that is set at about waist height. You can then work your way down as you get stronger. I recommend using a Smith machine or using something like a swiss bar on a squat rack, which allows you to set the bar at a range of heights.

How to Do It:

  1. Place your hands about shoulder-width apart on the bar. Step your feet out behind you so that your body is at a 45-degree angle. Pull your shoulders down and keep them there through the entire exercise.
  2. Lower your body down to the bar, exhaling on the way down. Continue until you are about an inch away from the bar.
  3. Push back to the start position, inhaling on the way.
  4. Keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle throughout.

Seated Rowing


Seated rowing is another back exercise. This one again targets the lats, with secondary emphasis on the rhomboids and trapezius.

How to Do It:

  1. Set the appropriate weight and then grab hold of the handlebar. Place one foot on the foot platform and slowly lower yourself down to sit on the seat. Then place the other foot on its platform.
  2. Keeping your shoulders down, pull your arms back toward your torso. Think about squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  3. Release back to the start position under control.
  4. Maintain an upright torso position, not leaning back or rounding your shoulders.

Single Arm Dumbbell Chest Press


The single-arm chest press is an example of unilateral training. Working each arm separately is great for pole dancers as it develops equal strength on either side of the upper body. It also works the core better than bilateral exercises.

How to Do It:

  1. Sit on a flat bench with a dumbbell resting on your right knee and hold it in your right hand.
  2. Lie back on the bench, using momentum to bring the dumbbell above your body at arm’s length. Place your heels on the floor.
  3. Rotate your hand so that your wrist is facing away from you. Contract your abs to keep a tight core.
  4. Lower the weight down to ribcage level. In the bottom position, your elbow should be bent at a 45-degree angle.
  5. Push through the heels to get the weight back to the start position.

Single Arm Lat Pulldown


The single-arm lat pulldown is another unilateral exercise. This exercise is done on a single cable pulley machine. Set the pulley at its highest level, grab the handle in your right hand, and kneel on the floor about three feet in front of the machine, facing it.

How to Do It:

  1. With your hips thrust forward, and torso upright, pull your arm so that the shoulder comes down to the side of your body. In the bottom position, the elbow should be at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Release to extend the arm above your head to the start position. Feel for a deep stretch through the lat muscle in the fully extended position.
  3. Keep youtube glutes squeezed tightly throughout this movement; do not sit back on your heels.



The skullcrusher is a great exercise to target the triceps at the back of the upper arm. This is yet another unilateral exercise, allowing you to strengthen each side separately.

How to Do It:

  1. Sit on a flat bench with a dumbbell resting on your right knee and hold it in your right hand.
  2. Lie back on the bench, using momentum to bring the dumbbell above your body at arm’s length. Place your heels on the floor.
  3. Keeping your elbow in line with your shoulder, bend the elbow to bring the dumbbell down to the level of your ear.
  4. Reverse the action by contracting the triceps to return to the straight arm position.
  5. You may wish to use your non-exercise hand to help keep your elbow from drifting outward.

Alternate Dumbbell Curls


The alternate dumbbell curl is a bicep strengthening exercise that, yet again, works each arm separately. It is important not to allow your body to swing while doing this exercise. Doing so will bring momentum into the movement, lessening the bicep benefit.

How to Do It:

  1. Stand with a pair of dumbbells in your hands, holding them at arm’s length at your sides. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  2. Starting with your palms facing your thighs, twist your right wrist, so that the palm is facing forward, then curl that arm up toward your shoulder.
  3. In the top contracted position, squeeze your bicep tightly.
  4. Lower the dumbbell back to the start position, turning the wrist back to fack your thigh in the bottom position.
  5. Repeat with the other arm.

Wanting to add a lower body element to your workout. Check out these squat variations.

Check out Part 3 coming soon!

Steve Theunissen
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