I had a comment a while ago from Ailsa asking about stretching and conditioning for aerial. She said…You seem to be super fit and flexible, so I would love some of your workouts. I know a lot of it would be done during aerial class, but if you do any stretching or strength sessions at home I’d be really interested in that.
Let me preface this by saying when I started aerial two years ago I had no upper body strength and ZERO flexibility…I could not even touch my toes without a lot of straining. So, if you look at these pictures and think you can’t do this stuff, YOU CAN, it just takes some work.
CARDIO // The best all around workout for aerial is climbing. It works your arms, legs, core, and butt. Climb up and down and few times and you’ll definitely be out of breath. I climb silks, but obviously most people don’t have access to that, so climbing a rope at the gym or one hung from a tree in your backyard will work just as well. I found these videos of a chick doing a bunch of different climbs that might be helpful.
TONE YOUR ARMS // I couldn’t do a pull-up at all when I started aerial classes. Even if you can’t pull up (YET!) just do a little jump and hold yourself up there for as long as possible. Iron Gym pull-up bars are awesome, but since they don’t fit on my door frame I have a $20 tension bar and it works great.
ROCK HARD ABS // While you’re up there holding that pull-up, try lifting your legs in a pike (first photo) or a V. You’ll work your abs even more if you try it on monkey rings at the park and swing your legs up over your head into a straddle. If straight legs is difficult begin by pulling your knees up first and then straightening your legs. Go up and down as many times as you can without touching for floor. That one definitely takes some practice!
ROCK HARDER ABS // Another great ab workout is planking. Put your feet up on the wall, forearms on the ground, straight back, suck those abs in an hold it! Then try and lift one left at a time or start with your hands on the ground and lift your right left and left arm and then switch and do the other side.
BEAUTIFUL BACK // Doing handstands against a wall is great to tone your back. Try an upside down push-up or taking one leg off the wall and holding it. If you want more back flexibility start lowering your butt toward the wall or lower your legs into scorpion.
STRETCHING // I’ve never been able to do the splits in my life, but after stretching like this for a year I got them! I generally stretch at night in front of the TV, holding each pose for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. This is not yoga where you want to push yourself like crazy. Holding these poses can get very intense and even painful, so ease into it and back-off if it gets too uncomfortable. I hated my first yin yoga class, but after a few weeks it became really relieving and comfortable to relax into the poses and just chill out.
DRAGON // Make it even more uncomfortable by moving both hands to the inside of your bent leg and lowering yourself to the ground. THIS will get you your splits!
PIGEON // Again, if this feels comfy, lower yourself to the ground, sort of laying on to of your bent leg.
Then reach back and grab your leg. I like to do this first with my right arm and then with my left as you get a different stretch from turning to each side.
COBRA // Take it easy on this one and maybe even start with your forearms on the ground. You’ll find after sitting like this for 5 minutes it’s very uncomfortable to straighten your back, so go slow.
So that gives you a general idea of my workout and how I get all muscly and bendy. Thank you to Irina for taking the pics! Feel free to post questions in the comments, I’m happy to answer them!
* And just a disclaimer. I’m by no means a trainer or anything like that. I know aerial, I know how I went from an unflexible weakling to a bendy aerialist. What works for me may not work for you. You can definitely hurt yourself doing these exercises and stretches, so take it slow and listen to your body. There is a definite difference between an intense stretch and bad pain.