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Incredible Inverts – How to Get A Straight-Legged Straddle Without All That Swearing


Miss Hannah Risner's Perfect Invert

Sweet heavens, ya’ll better be glad I don’t use a Swear Jar during class – you’d be broke and I’d be a millionaire. What move is most swear-worthy? When do I hear the grunts, groans, and colorful metaphors galore?  Whether you call them inverts, straddle-backs, or demented flying monkey swings, it’s tough to get that crisp, tight, straight-legged straddle we’re aiming for – slightly bent legs, droopy tushies, and funky feet can make it feel like we’ll never get there. Take heart, Dear Danglers – help is on the way!


Anatomy of a Sassy Straddle

There are several “pillars” of aerial work – pull-ups being one, inverts being another. A crummy invert sets the stage for sloppy work (and makes your butt look heavy – NOOOOOOOOO!), so it’s worth putting in the time and effort it takes to execute clean, snappy straddles. Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • strong upper body position to start – arms are either bent with elbows to your waist & hands between the boobies, or straight overhead (much more difficult).
  • clean “take-off” – legs sweep cleanly around the fabric. DO NOT kick your fabric out of the way – it doesn’t look nearly as ninja-fabulous as you might think, just spastic.
  • quick tap of the legs together, then a strong fan outwards and overhead – no pause or tempo (beat-back) – this is a Very Bad Habit. Don’t make me get my taser.
  • straight legs (bent “frog” legs are acceptable when beginning, or when used as an artistic choice)
  • high, elevated derriere (no droopy drawers or saggy assets!)


How to Get There – Aerial Straddle Training Tips

  • Beginners – you’re ready to start training inversions when you can hold yourself reliably with bent arms on the fabric. At first, it’s kind of a get-into-your-straddle-any-way-you-can situation. Remember – don’t flail or be spastic – not sexy. Keep working, you’ll get it.
  • If you think your hamstring flexibility (or lack of) is messing with your position, work consistently on stretching them out.
  • Mixed level/advanced – now, we WORK. Get into your full straddle position. Lower down SLOOOOOOOWLY, keeping your legs straight, and bending your arms back to your starting position. Again. Again. Again (you get the picture). By reverse training your inverts, you’ll not only strengthen the essential muscles, but you’ll get a grea idea of exactly when your “ugly moment” is happening so you can be aware of it.
  • Tip: think “energy out the toes” – you have to engage the whole leg, and everything radiates outwards from your core. Think about laser beams shooting out of your feet (hum the theme from “Star Wars”, it helps).
  • Now – EVERY time you train, add 5-10+ straddles into your conditioning, switching sides every 5 reps. Come down and do a little straddle dance – you’ve earned it. May I suggest the song “Rump Shaker”? Werk it out.

And that’s how we do it! How are you doing on the 30 day straddle challenge? If you haven’t started, what are you waiting for? Are you gaining inches? Lemme hear you! Love and pull-ups, Laura


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19 comments on “Incredible Inverts – How to Get A Straight-Legged Straddle Without All That Swearing”

  1. Cindy Ferry Reply

    Miss Thang, I have done all of a dozen successful pullups in my life, and those were before you were born. But this was a really fun read. My high school English teacher would refer to this as “sparkling copy” and to me, it’s as impressive as your ability to dangle from fabric! Rock on!!

  2. nadia Reply

    hey i just found your blog. amazing.
    I’ve attended silk classes for almost two months now, that’s like 8 classes and i stil can’t achieve inverting to this position. it’s getting frustrating. any advice? i feel soo left behind like all the other girls are already able to do them in the air! ha ha

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Take heart, Nadia! You are not behind. It took me a solid 4 months of working several times a week to get my tush over my head in a straddle! Pilates can help speed the process along, but it just takes some time. YOU WILL GET IT! 🙂

      • nadia Reply

        aww thanks, this is just what i needed i will post my picture doing a straddle if i can once i am able to do it, and let you know by linking your encouragement!
        im gonna go read a little bit more your blog…
        have a great week


  3. David C Reply

    Hi, thanks for this! I’ve still got tons of work to do on my straddle, but I couldn’t do it at all in the air until I read your comment in this post that it’s easier with your arms lower. (Oops, I must not have been listening when my teachers here had said the same thing!)

    I’d love to take a class with you next time I’m in NY.

    Thanks for everything else on your blog, too — definitely the best resource on the internet for aerial silks.


    • Lewitwer Reply

      Awesome, David! I’m so glad it helped! 🙂 I would be deeeeeeelighted to have you in class the next time you’re in town!

  4. Nora Reply

    I liked your article about the straddle. But how on earth do you go from bent arm straddle to long arm straddle? I can do a ton of those with bent arms, but I just don’t figure it out to do it with long arms.
    Any good advice for practicing?

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Hi Nora! LOTS of training – straight arm straddles are wicked hard. Try reverse training them by inverting normally, then lowering as slowly as you can until you’ve almost reached the bottom, then try to invert with straight arms. Train it every session and they’ll come! You can also try bent legs for a bit, then straighten them when that becomes easy. Hope that helps!

  5. Amanda Reply

    Hey, so I have been taking silks/rope classes for over a year and a half now. My straddles from jumping off the ground are still not so strong (I grab the rope with my feet after I jump and use that to pull myself into a straddle) and I still can’t get the straddle in the air at all, not even with bent legs. I do pull up at home and inverted straddles on the ground at home constantly and those are fine, but as soon as I get to the gym I can’t see any progress. Do you have any tips for that?

    • Lewitwer Reply

      I feel your pain, Amanda! When you say you do pull-ups, are you starting from a dead hang and pulling all the way up and all the way down? This is a great place to start, as you need a stable torso to really see progress in inversions. If yes, then let’s look at the lower body. If you still need to jump from the ground, in-air inversions are not in the cards for the moment. That’s OK!!! Start here:

      Straddle Hold: Stand with one fabric in each hand, feet in front of the tails so you don’t kick them. Jump into your straddle and HOLD IT. Focus on squeezing the arms to your hips, really reaching the legs over your head. Straight legs, pointed toes. Work up to holding for a full 5 seconds.

      Once this is easy, move on to:

      Eccentric straddles: Same starting position. Jump back into your straddle, hold for two seconds, now lower down to a slow count of 10. Return to a BENT ARM position (like the top of a pull-up). You are aiming for straight legs & pointed toes all the way down, but you may need to bend the legs at first to keep them from slamming down into the mat. Repeat to muscle fatigue within the safe zone.

      Bring it back a few steps and I think you’ll start to see some progress! 🙂

  6. April Reply

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have been looking all over the web to figure out how to improve my straddles. I’ve been working on the silks for almost a year now. I can do straddles with the help of a little jump off the mat. I don’t have enough strength to do these inversions in the air just yet.

    I don’t have access to a pull-up bar or silks when I am not in class and I only attend silk classes once a week. Do you have any recommendations for what I can do in between classes to work towards doing straddles in the air?

    Thank you!

  7. April Reply

    Thank you SO MUCH!

    I tried looking for removable pull-up bars, but unfortunately my door frame is too narrow. 🙁 I will look into your other suggestions!

    I’m a teacher, so perhaps I will be able to borrow the monkey bars after school…;)

  8. Kellie Reply

    Hello! Thanks for all your wonderful advice. You have helped me on more than one occasion. Question….I have been practicing silks for about 9 months, 3-4 days a week. I have no problem inverting but for the life of me I cannot hold my straddle invert. My body falls right back down where it came from. I have tried focusing on engaging every muscle in my body and can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. I have seen many girls come and go during my 9 months and 80% of them can hold a straddle invert on their first try. I feel like I must be doing something wrong.

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Hi Kellie! This is actually super common. You want to think about squeezing your wrists to your lady bits or inner thighs, and making sure that your tush is LIFTED nice and high (you’re very likely rounding your lower back, makin’ your booty heavy).

      1 – invert, and use your feet on the fabric to glue your bits to your wrists; engage the muscles down your sides and the backs of your arms
      2 – scooch your butt up the fabric; your hoo-hoo (technical term) should be pressed against the fabric and/or your wrists
      3 – reach one leg waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over your head and straighten it; try to find the “squeezing” spot, and try a controlled reach with the other leg (do not launch yourself – you’ll just ricochet back down – controooooooool).

      Good luck! Keep at it!!! 🙂

  9. katerina Reply

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been doing silks for 6 months and started trapeze classes 2 weeks ago. Yesterday I had quite a shitty day and adding the fact that I am now the only one in class that cannot get on the trapeze without assistance, well I felt even a lot shittier. Normally I’m quite proud of myself since I’ve gone from a complete couch potato to doing silks 2 times a week and sticking with it for 6 months, it’s something that’s never happened in my life before 🙂 Anyways, this was the perfect post to get me out of my self-pitying and getting motivated to work, work and work on those inverts. Thanks again!

  10. Mackenzie Reply

    I have a question. I can get into my straddle just fine, but I have the *worst* time holding it there, even for a breath, before I hook a knee. If I try, my boobs hit my arms (big bust and short arms) and my whole torso sort of bounces back down. I’ve been trying to pull my chest through and arch more at the top/peak of the straddle, but so far that hasn’t helped because I just don’t have a lot of room when my hands are clasped in front of my torso. Any suggestions or something I’m not thinking of?

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Hi MacKenzie! This is a strength thing. Essentially, the arms squeeze towards the thighs, core contacts nice and tight. Right now, your front body isn’t engaged enough to maintain the position. I’ll be doing an online “inversion intervention” soon – keep an eye out!

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