It took me a long time to learn how NOT to kick into pole inverts! When I first learned how to do an invert (not properly either - and not the fault of my pole instructors!)
I learned how to invert from a DVD - which I still think is a great DVD and it helped me to understand the nature of the inversion, but I kicked into, focusing on getting my ankle/foot to "hook" onto the pole instead of using back, ab and core strength to tuck into it.
My pole instructors at Venus Pole Fitness in Turlock, California, had taught me over the 6-week course when I was there, to climb, sit, do 'sexy push-ups' and lots of hard-core ab work. They really pushed me, helping me to build lots of glute, hip, ab, leg and upper body strength. Being good pole teachers, they had not introduced me to the idea of inverting yet. (A very good sign that the pole instructor will lead you on a safe learning path!)
Stretching and Warm Up for Pole Inverts
There are so many different ways to stretch and warm up but I'll just focus on some stretches that are particular to inverting. Click on the links to see the illustrated exercises and demonstrations.
Warm up your entire body with floor work or half turns and pirouettes around the pole.
Do the rotator cuff exercises with preparing for inverts or at another workout session.
Learn Pole Ups First
Learning to do what are commonly known as 'pole ups' sort of like 'pull ups' except performed on the pole and the body mechanics are a little different. This will ensure you have built enough upper body strength to hold yourself on the pole and start to learn to do pole inverts properly.
If you are a complete beginner, or have very little upper body strength, start here with 'pop ups'. When I started poling again after my injury, I couldn't even hold myself for a couple of seconds on the pole. Click here to see an illustration and demonstration.
Learn to 'pop up', hold on with your legs and slowly release to slide down.
Learn what it means to engage the muscles of your back - your rhomboids and scapula muscles with these exercises.
Do pole ups from the floor. This was very instrumental in helping me to build that upper body strength and letting me feel confident while building it because I could do these.
Do pole ups from a cross-legged position on the floor. These were a little tougher for me but worked my upper body effectively.
Do what I call 'pole hops' from the sides and front of pole. Click here to see it demonstrated.
After these progressive exercises, work up to a pole hold without using your legs and work up to holding yourself on the pole for a minute or two.
Do what I call 'half-climbs' using both hands and both legs to start. Click here for instructions.
Do the start of a climb, hold on with your legs and slide down.
Upper Body Building Without a Pole
If you don't have a pole yet, use a pull up bar - you can get one pretty inexpensively at Walmart or a sporting goods store for about $30-50. It can be installed in a doorway.
Most of us women were never taught to do pull-ups or chin-ups, and a lot of us couldn't do one before pole dancing! But if you are starting out, or looking to build more back strength, do these:
Do a pull-up with the aid of a pull-up strap or chair.
Do a chin up the same way.
Learn to do a sexy push up on the floor.
Do modified push ups on a yoga mat.
Learn to do a full push up from the floor.
Learn to do planks both with leaning on your wrists and forearms (hover).
Core Exercises for Pole Inverts
Do this ab workout consistently. You may find other ab exercises to add to it.
Our lower abs are what help us to get into the curl-up tuck position that we go into before we invert. Here is a great Swiss ball exercise that helped me to learn the movement.
Do hip raises from the floor (included in the ab workout)
Learn to do pole crunches on both sides of the pole.
Learn the Fan Kick. This is an ab trick, NOT a leg trick. It looks like you are using your legs but it really is using the abdominal muscles to bring those legs up and around.