When you kickstart your pole dancing journey you learn so many cool new spins and poses on the pole.
You learn how to climb the pole like an adventurer scaling Mt Everest, but rather than stake your
achievement with a tattered flag, you reward yourself with a new pair of heels – of course.
You progress through your pole dance studio’s levels and one day graduate from cute Beginner Babe to
Intermediate Queen. You’re feelin’ damn fine and living that pole dream. One night, you strut into pole
dancing class wondering if you will be getting low to Lil Jon or Lizzo, when the instructor announces to
the class that you will be learning how to straddle invert. She explains it’s about to become a key part of
your pole bag of tricks and that a lot of inverted tricks will start with a straddle.
After the demonstration you think it couldn’t be THAT hard. Then when it’s your turn, you face a harsh
reality. Lil Jon & the Eastside Boyz will have to wait, because this term you’ll be singing, “from the
windowwww, to the wall, until my straddle gets off the floor…”
Introducing the Straddle Invert
A pole dancing straddle is typically known as an invert standing from the floor, without hooking the legs
onto the pole. Instead, you create a V-shape with your legs and pull your hips in close to the pole as you
kick upside down. As you advance through pole classes, the straddle can also be taken aerial so that you
straddle high up on the pole, usually before entering another inverted position.
Straddles become a foundation pole skill and can make all the difference in having clean, polished tricks
and pole combos. A good straddle requires strength and engagement through your arms, core and legs. No limb is left behind!
It’s not uncommon for pole dancers to hit a roadblock when learning straddles, and especially aerial
straddles. Some students can take years perfecting and feeling comfortable in a good aerial straddle. But
before you start to hang up the heels, we have 5 ways you can improve your straddle sooner rather than
1. Arm height & shoulder engagement
Set yourself up to win and place your hands in a baseball grip at head height. Placing your hands too
high means that your hips have further to go to be able to get higher than your hands. You also won’t
have as much pulling power to lift, so begin with your arms at head height.
Our biceps tend to take all the of attention, when we also need our upper back and shoulders assisting
us. They are strong muscle groups so let’s use them! When you pull up to straddle, squeeze your
shoulder blades together and keep your shoulders back and down away from your ears. Keep your neck long and avoid straightening out through your arms.
There should always be a small bend in your arms while holding a straddle, so that you can maintain
total control. Watch that your elbows don’t stick outwards and instead keep thinking about pulling your
elbows to your tummy and puffing your chest slightly. In the well-versed words of Lisa D, think “tits to
2. Shakira was right – the hips don’t lie!
If there were 2 things that Shakira taught us in the early 2000s, it was that announcing your name at the
start of a song was about to become a “thing” and that the hips do not actually lie.
Your core and pelvis play a huge role in nailing a straddle invert. Your arms can only get you so far until
it’s time for your core to kick in! Engaging your core and tilting your pelvis is essential to nailing the
straddle. Think about pulling your belly button to your spine and scooping/tucking your “tail”. You want
to be pulling your hips close to the pole, above where your hands are holding on. Not only does
engaging your core assist you in holding a straddle, but it helps to protect your lower back from injury.
There are some awesome exercises to help this in our PoleSphere Invert Conditioning (On and Off the Pole) tutorial. Our PoleSphere Pilates tutorials are also perfect conditioning for straddle inverts.
3. Don’t let your legs flop
Your legs are so important when achieving a straddle invert! Don’t allow them to flop around like those
giant waving balloon men out the front of car yards. Yes, it will grab attention – but for all the wrong
When you straddle, think about what your legs are doing. Are you squeezing through your quads and
pointing your toes? Are your legs splitting wide? Pole flexibility isn’t essential for a straddle, it’s more
about thinking to split your legs nice and wide so that you feel lighter and more balanced holding the
Give your straddle invert a lot of leg tension by squeezing your quads and trying to anchor your feet
down towards the floor. You should feel quite active through your legs and not like they are just hangin’
out up there! Point your toes and think about shooting energy out of them towards the corners of the
room. By firing up your phalanges and using that “toe energy” you will find that you become lighter, and
your hips will lift slightly higher.
4. What goes up, must come down – nicely!
You have finally nailed your straddle, taken the money shot and now that the show is over, you plonk down to the floor and land on your feel like a baby elephant (a very cute one of course!). This is a no-no!
Lift yourself up out of the straddle and think about kissing your hands on the way back down.
By controlling your body out of straddle, you will build more strength and protect your back from
possible strain. The exit will look much nicer and it will help you when you want to progress to other
tricks later on.
Top tip: Once you have nailed your straddle, take it into something else so that you get used to
transitioning into another trick after it. You could wrap your legs around the pole into a basic invert,
hook into an outside leg hang if you’re feeling strong or lift and lower straight down into a mounted thigh grip.
5. Work it baby
Your straddle can take as much work as trying to find the perfect pole dancing hand grip. A straddle
invert is one of the first tricks you will face as a pole dancer that is unlikely to be achieved over night, and you may need to do additional conditioning and strength exercises (which we have HEAPS of on
Exercises to improve your pancake or forward fold are helpful for straddles, as is pole pull-ups, pole
tucks, pole rows, core and hip flexor conditioning. Practice your straddles laying on the floor and mirror that motion in a controlled way to help create a mind-body connection.
Achieving a pole straddle can take time, sweat, a few tears and a large amount of dedication but the
reward is totally worth it. Your pole dancing tricks and combos will look clean and feel much stronger
with a solid straddle. A pole straddle is like a good entrée at a restaurant – it may not be the main meal
of the evening, but it sets the tone for the night! Plus, who doesn’t love a great garlic bread!
Check out the following related PoleSphere tutorials: