Changing up your grip
Climbing a pole is bad-ass. I don’t care if it’s the 1st time you’ve ever done it, or the 101st. You are climbing a cylinder of polished metal. Tell me that doesn’t make you feel pretty incredible. But how many different grips have you tried in your climb? Last week I wrote about different grips for shoulder mounts, and this week I’m taking on climbing. As with shoulder mount grip changes, the different grips you can use to climb will leverage your body and strength in a different way. Also…again as with shoulder mounts…different grips lend themselves well to different transitions in/out since your body is placed differently in each, which means your torso and hips are further or closer to pole depending on the grip you use. Please note that these descriptions are NOT intended to be a substitution for eyes on the ground. When attempting any of these you should make sure you have a mat and a reliable spotter!
Baseball grip The baseball grip is the one most polers use at first. You reach semi-high on the pole (keeping shoulders down, scapulae against back, lats engaged….don’t reach so high that your shoulders are all the way up to ears! This one is great when you’re going directly into a pole sit because everything is already nice and close to the pole. 🙂
Forearm bracket/forearm push In this grip, one arm is set high on the pole, and the other is at about chest height, with forearm set diagonally against the pole to push away. Jenyne Butterfly was the first person I saw use this — one of the great things about it is that you can do an arm-over-arm climb that a) looks incredible and b) is super efficient. I learned it from Jamilla when she came to my home studio for workshops and private lessons, and I knew right away it would be a game changer for me. It allows you to keep your hips and torso far away from the pole, which makes it easier (for me anyway) to transition into static holds and poses. Half bracket I first saw this one being used to great effect by none other than the great Felix Cane. It’s not an easy climb, but it sure is gorgeous. In order to do it effectively, you need to be able to support your weight nearly all in your top arm while your bottom arm pushes you away from the pole. It’s not the same as a full bracket, where your thumb is down and both arms are straight…. in the half bracket your low hand is at around belly button or hip bone height, and it’s thumb UP. Your low arm remains bent to some degree. The beauty of this hold is that it allows you to get your hand out of the way of your knees as you bring them up. When Felix climbs it looks like some sort of slinky spider folding and unfolding. Rawr.