Muay Thai Instructor Richmond Sia Shares His Experience with Polecats Manila

6 Sep

Muay Thai instructor Richmond Sia came back to attend our Men’s Pole Workshop after his first encounter with the pole a few months ago. We asked him to share with us his take on pole dancing. Here is his story. Thank you Richmond for this great article. 😀

***

Having worked in the fitness industry for over a decade, I have had my fair share of people coming to me for advice. Questions asked range from, “how can I build a bigger chest?” or “how can I get stronger for my sport” or “how can I look like Jacob from Twilight because he’s so fine”. My answer to that last question by the way is. Heck I don’t know!! I haven’t seen my abs in over a decade and I’m saving up for liposuction myself. Hahahaha. But lets get back on track before this train of thought derails. I have been asked to write a strength training article applicable to pole dancing. Yes you read that right.. POLE DANCING.

You may be asking, why pray tell do scantly dressed dancers spinning on poles in tune to “Careless Whisper” in front of a group of guys salivating like Pavlov’s dogs as soon as the dinner bell is rung need strength training to do that? Well, you will be surprised how much strength it takes to do what they do.

Pole dancing should really be called pole gymnastics. It requires a great deal of technical ability, strength and power just like a gymnast but with the grace and poise of a ballerina. Without doubt, technical ability and preparation is paramount in pole dancing
However, technique can only be applied within the boundaries of physical fitness – be it strength, power or anaerobic capacity. By developing a sport-specific base of strength. Unfortunately, strength training in sport is often misunderstood. Bodybuilding and weight training purely for aesthetic purposes bears little resemblance to strength training for gymnastics. In fact, the wrong type of strength training can actually be detrimental to performance. Bodybuilders train muscle groups – athletes must train movements. This is especially true for pole dancers who usually perform movements that require every major muscle group in the body to work in synergy.

Pole dancing requires a great deal of isometric strength. That is, not just moving from point “A” to point “B” but being able to hold it in between. To illustrate, imagine doing a pushup and stopping mid point with your arms slightly bent. In order for your body to stay in that position it has to engage a lot of stabilizing muscles mostly around the core area. If you try it, you will know what I mean. But again a good deal of basic strength is needed in order to achieve great isometric and core strength.

Having tried my hand at pole dancing myself, I can surmise that in order to better your chances at it, you need to be strong in the following areas:
1. Grip strength
2. Core and core rotational strength
3. Shoulders
4. Legs and particularly its adducting muscle groups.
5. Back muscles particularly the pulling muscles (ie Lattisimus dorsi, tres major, tres minor, prosterior delts, etc.)

Although good basic strength that you get from adhoc workouts in a gym, these areas need particular attention if you want to get good “pole dancing muscles”. Here are a few exercises that can help you stay on the poles longer and help you through those “tricks”.
If you have tried pole dancing you would no doubt know by now that no amount of sticky tack applied to your hands will help you hang on to those 2” diameter poles. A strong crushing grip is essential if you want to hang on.

What I like doing throughout the whole day is use a soft toy ball roughly the size of a tennis ball and just squeeze. You can do this for reps or you can do this for timed holds. For example, crush the ball and count to 5 then release and repeat.

I also like using those cheap grip exercise things you can buy at your favorite sports its portable and you can use it all times of the day.

Another grip exercise that doubles as a back exercise are towel pull-ups or towel pulldowns. Basically it involves wrapping a towel or 2 towel on a bar and twisting it, this makes it so much harder because you have to continuously crush into the softer and unstable surface are in order to maintain your grip. Trust me this can be very challenging.

Military Press or Seated Press:

Nothing beats shoulder presses or military presses to develop good basic shoulder strength. When you do it standing up with a barbell (even better with dumbbells) it has an added bonus of engaging your core in static contraction to stabilize you.

Squats:

Squats, squats and more squats. This has got to be the king of all lower body exercises. Not only does it involve almost every major muscle in the lower body it has the added bonus of giving you an awesome butt. Hehehehehe.

Band Leg curls:

This movement is performed the same way you’d do a regular leg curl. The main difference with the bands is you don’t have to stay on the same plane; you can take a few reps out to each side at a bit of an angle. This allows you to hit the hamstrings from several different angles. Continues tension is present throughout the while movement unlike when you do it on certain machines and free weights where there tends to be “blank spots” at certain angles in the range of motion. As an added bonus if you do it the way illustrated in the picture, it also works your core as a stabilizing muscle group.

Guard Situps:

This is something I picked up from practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Basically you wrap your legs around a punching bag or a training partner and lock them in. From there you will do a full sit up while your legs are locked until you can hug the bag. If you get bored there are variations to this where you can elbow or punch the bag (of course you do not do this to your training partner.. hahahaha). In time you can go further up the bag until your completely suspended. This is not only awesome for adductor group muscles for gripping the pole but also very good for strengthening the abs.

Hanging Ab Wipers:

Hanging abdominal exercises require upper body and core strength to hold you up and reduce swinging. Now hanging leg raises are already hard enough but lets take things up a notch by wiping your legs from left to right. Doing it slow and controlled , in fact when done in this controlled fashion it eliminates momentum which actually makes it harder. If you are unable to do this yet or cant hang on long enough, you can also do it from the floor to begin with.

Ab wheel:

This has got to be my all time favorite. You can do it from your knees or you can do it standing up for that extra challenge. The key to this movement is to lay as flat as your able, trying to touch your hip bone to the ground. Trust me, if you do it in this fashion, it feels like your abs are being ripped apart. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the wheel the harder it gets. You can also get ones with foot grips so you can be extra masochistic and use your legs instead to activate more hip flexors.

So there you go, exercises that will increase your chances of hanging on and staying on the poles. How do you put all these together you might ask? Well you can either do a different exercise worked in your regular routine each session. Or you can do it all together as a part of a new routine:

Superset 1:

Squats
Band leg curls

Do 3 supersets of 15 reps

Superset 2:

Military press
Towel pull-ups or pulldowns

3 supersets of 15 reps

Giant set:

Ab wipers
Guard situps
Ab wheel

You can do this for time or do this for say 15-20 reps back to back for 3 sets.

This may look easy on paper but I guarantee it’s gonna hurt. Finish each of the supersets before moving on to the next. This is already a full body workout. You can schedule this once or twice a week together with pole dancing and other physical exercise routines you might be doing. And once you start finding this workout easy it’s time to add an isometric strength specific training program, but that’s another article for another day. Hehehehe..

In parting I would like to add that any “new” exercise program will be difficult but as time goes by and the stronger you get, I am confident that you will see your efforts pay off. And oh… REAL MEN POLE DANCE… heheheheh spread the pole love!

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One Response to “Muay Thai Instructor Richmond Sia Shares His Experience with Polecats Manila”

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