As an addendum to my previous post about circus being durned hard, I wanted to address one very concrete thing you can do TODAY to begin to ramp up your training. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you (cue confetti canons)… the Humble Pull-Up. That’s right – hauling yourself up and down using your superty-buff arms is my number one essential training tool, and it should be a part of your regular training at least every other day.
A matter of discipline
Yes, I’m aware that you hate pull-ups. I don’t leap out of bed every morning shrieking, “YAAAAY! I get to do some pull-ups today!!!!” either. Thing is, it doesn’t matter whether or not you hate them – you just have to do them. I’m willing to bet that one of the biggest reasons you hate them is because they’re really tough and they hurt and you suck at them. Am I right? It’s OK! It’s OK that they’re tough; it’s OK that they hurt, and it’s OK that you suck at them, but that will change. I promise you – train them, and they will suck so, so much less. First, you’ll do one, then another, then another, until you are kickin’ some serious tushie.
A matter of skill
I would say a solid 75% of aerial work hinges on variations of the pull-up. It’s that foundational. True – you can crank out some reasonably solid work without being able to do a traditional up and down, but you’re cheating yourself in a huge way. I’ve been around the professional block a few times (that doesn’t sound quite right, but you know what I mean), and I can tell you this: in all my years of performance, I have NEVER worked with a professional aerialist who couldn’t do a pull-up. In fact, the very idea is absurd. So, if you are serious about moving beyond the realm of student or amateur, get to work. TODAY.
A matter of safety
It’s not just a matter of strength; it’s also a matter of safety. Many of you have had the panic-inducing experience of getting into a bad knot on your fabrics, or finding yourself below your trapeze or hoop with little reserves to get back up. This is where your training – the muscle memory, the strength building, the endurance drills – is absolutely essential; it could mean the difference between a successful recovery to a safe position and a nasty injury for you (or someone else if you’re working with a partner). Be responsible and do the work, even if you hate it.
Here’s a great resource for how to properly execute a pull-up, and a link to the bar I have at home (no installation required). If you’re a beginner, try putting a chair underneath and giving yourself just enough help to go through the full range of movement; start slow and small, Rome wasn’t built in a day. For more advanced folks, you can try varying your hand positions to work the muscles from different angles and keep things interesting. In closing, know this: if you train your pull-ups consistently, you WILL be successful. Surprise and amaze your friends! They’ll think you’re a total Bad Ass Rock Star. Because you are.
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