Exercises for Straight Arm Inversions

The straight arm inversion is one of those annoying strength humps you have to get over in aerial dance. Strength humps are always frustrating because they usually comes when everything is going good, nothing seems like a struggle, and when you're feeling on top of the world. Then your coach hits you with this new skill and BAM you feel like a beginner all over again.


A lot of muscles are used when performing straight arm inversion, but one of the most notable is the lats. Your lats do a lot of things, but one of their jobs is raising and lowering your arms. When you do a straight arm inversion, you are basically going through that raising and lowering motion of your arms...but your lats are now loaded with your whole body weight...and you're rotating upside-down. No biggie ;) You also have disadvantageous leverage - your center of mass is farther away, so your lats have to work extra hard to hoist you up. So let's look at some exercises we can do to beef up those lats!


I've given exercises you can do in the aerial studio or a traditional gym to give you some options. You don't have to do all of these exercises in one day - in fact, you typically don't want to hit a single muscle group hard more than 2 days a week. These exercises are just meant to be a sample of some things you can pull from to increase your strength for this movement. Do what you can when you can! Also, even if you aren't working on straight arm inverts yet, you can still do these exercises and will benefit from them. And even if you're a straight arm pro, these will still help you get stronger.


As always, the prescribed workouts will be notated as sets x reps or sets x (rep range). For the studio exercises, If you can't do that many reps just work up to it. The videos to the right show the exercises.



Studio Exercises

  1. Modified Kiss the Bars 3 x (3-6) Rest 1 - 2 min

  2. Heel Taps 3 x (6-10) Rest 1 - 2 min

  3. Arrow > Straddles 3 x (3-5) Rest 1 min




Gym Exercises

  1. X - Bench Pull-overs 3 x (8-12) Rest 1 min

  2. Straight Arm Pull-downs 3 x (8-12) Rest 1 min

  3. Heavy Lat Pull downs 3 x (5-8) Rest 2 min


For the gym exercises, choose a weight that allows you to complete the prescribed number of reps. Too easy? Go up in weight! Can't finish? Take a few pounds off and work up (no shame!!!) Check out this blog post for more info on how to choose your weights at the gym!


Want more individualized lessons and programming? I'm available for private lessons. Shoot me an email to info@vitalmovementatl.com or send me a message on social media.


Happy inverting!


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Disclaimer: This is not a substitute for working with a trained coach! You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Vital Movement from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of Vital Movement.

Full disclaimer here

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