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Do you always train both sides?

In pole, we talk about this a lot while in other activities, it’s less common. Tennis, golf, baseball and other sports all don’t ask players to do the same thing with both hands. Their hands are “specialized” and each do different things. In your daily life, you also tend to do the same things with the same hands, only some of us are truly ambidextrous!

Finding balance in your on and off the pole conditioning is important, so what happens if you feel like you can’t do both sides on all your pole moves? 🤔

  • Maybe your body is giving you pain or fear signals.
  • Maybe you’ve got a major muscle imbalance.
  • Maybe you’ve got an old injury.

Whatever it is, instead of always training exactly the same move on both sides, try a regression of the move instead.

What’s a regression?

For instance, I’m working on my cup grip deadlift on my dominant arm. My non-dominant arm says no thank you to that movement 😝

I have a pinched nerve on my right and several herniated discs in my neck. For me (other folks may have other symptoms) I have less “inputs” on my right arm and headaches pretty much 24/7. The compressed nerve sheath (the “tunnel” the nerve slides through) has gotten pinched so it’s like a four-lane highway worth of traffic all trying to fit through a two-lane dirt road. Some things get through and some things get waaay backed up.

Even though my right arm is pretty strong (and I train both arm movements off the pole like weight training, handstands, etc.) my right side just doesn’t feel safe attempting the same movement and it just won’t go. The “you’re ok and you’re strong” signal is stuck behind a tractor or something!

To deal with this issue in my own body, I regress the movement by going back to a less advanced version of the cup grip deadlift. Over time, I’ve worked up to being comfortable with the apprentice to butterfly movement from an inversion to butterfly movement. I’ll keep working on it and hopefully be able to transition to descending into a true grip handspring on my right. Eventually maybe I’ll “catch up” to my other side and be working on deadlifts or controlled ascents.

Maybe I won’t. And that’s ok!

More ways to address balancing both sides in your training

If you or your students are struggling to do things on both sides, here are some suggestions.

  1. Give yourself some grace! Sometimes we just need to tell ourselves it’s ok if we can’t do it yet or today.
  2. Try a regression like in my example! Understand your shapes and levels of progression and work backwards. An iron X starts life as a butterfly, which starts life as an inversion, which starts life as a fan kick and so on.
  3. Do off the pole conditioning. Look at the muscles used in the movement you or your students are trying to achieve. If a regression move is still too scary, too hard, or otherwise just not on the agenda today, you can always build strength and confidence by breaking down component parts off the pole. For instance, try working on planks and push-ups – all which have tons of variations.


Always give options to yourself and your students!

Regression is not a bad thing! It’s better to feel comfortable and use the most optimal muscles than to train something “wrong” or that scares you too much which can lead to injury or just really hating pole. And no one wants that ❤️


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