Hey aerialist! How are your biceps, core, forearms, shoulders, back, and glutes?
My guess is that they're pretty damn sore! Or at least, if not now, then at least on some kind of regular basis.
Aerial disciplines definitely present opportunities to target every muscle group in many ways, but there are several common positions and actions that repeat themselves a lot, including straddle, hollow body, pulling, and hanging with hands at chest.
My guess is that mooost aerialists are not thanking their hardworking muscles with adequate stretches.
The right yoga class (restorative, yin, gentle) can work wonders on an aerialist's body, but some yoga classes can actually make you more sore. It can be really difficult to find the right yoga class and teacher for you. If you can find a gentle yoga class near you, see if you can get to class on a weekly basis.
In addition, or perhaps instead, do stretches at home. It takes a LOT of discipline to do this, so you may need to find a way to incentivize stretching. Maybe it's when you listen to your favorite podcast? I also have an amazing resource called Fit4Flight, which guides you through these and more counterpoint stretches at the end of aerial-specific workouts. One thing aerialists say they love about Fit4Flight is that it provides an easy-to-follow template for conditioning that can be done anytime and anywhere. The reality is that aerial requires great discipline. Every time you set an intention to care for or develop your body, you strengthen the very mindset that will take you further as an aerialist.
Try the following stretches after training to help soothe your hardworking aerial muscles.
This week for Muscle Monday I'm sharing a full-body exercise that I love adding to my aerial silks ground warmup. Shoulders, pecs (chest), triceps, core, glutes, and hamstrings get a great workout from this one. It also provides an opportunity to focus on hollow body position.
The plank-forearm plank transition is also beneficial to aerialists because it incorporates elbow extension and pushing (heyyy triceps). Strength in the triceps can help you to access those strong, straight lines from shoulders to fingertips!
Start with 4 one direction and 4 the other direction. You can add multiple sets if you like.
To make these harder, lift the leg opposite of the arm that lowers first for the duration of the exercise. This emphasizes glute and hamstring engagement which is particularly good for balancing aerialist bodies because we do sooo much hip flexion! Plus, we do use those muscle groups a lot for stabilization in aerial movement.
Check out @wakefulascentaerial for the video of this exercise and tag with your best attempt!
This week's Muscle Monday exercise focuses on your outer hip muscles, including the gluteus medius, piriformis, gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. The action is external rotation combined with abduction, in other words rotating your leg outward and opening it to the side. These are the muscles you use to create a wide straddle. At the last moment of the exercise the hip flexors kick in to pull the knee toward the head. This is a natural extension of the initial movement, but not being particularly strengthening, could be skipped altogether.
Try 1-2 sets of 5-8 reps on each side.
Visit @wakefulascentaerial for the video of this exercise and tag with your best attempt!
If you tried last week's Muscle Monday drill, you are going to L O V E this week's (it's wayyyy easier.)
Today's drill helps strengthen the quadriceps, hip flexors, and calves in unison. Repeating this drill teaches these muscles to work together to create one beautiful long line from hip to toe.
Low Standing Leg Lifts combine hip flexion (raising the leg from the hip) with knee extension (keeping the knee straight). It is much easier to flex your hip when your knee is bent, which means it is verrrry tricky to convince the knee to stay straight, especially when you're feeling tired. Practicing this drill helps us banish that pesky microbend by building muscle memory around the good habits that give us strong, beautiful lines and developing the muscles we need to keep the action clean.
Tap your pointed foot on the ground and raise your leg about halfway to the height of your hip. Squeeze the quadriceps (front thighs) to keep your knee straight. Be sure to turn your lifting leg outward (external rotation) while doing this, but not to a point that you feel clicking or grinding at the hip joint. This is usually less of an issue for the low lifts and more so for the high lifts. Standing leg should be strong with a slight bend in the knee, and hips should be square. Draw belly toward spine to avoid arching.
This drill can be extremely helpful for beautifying your technique and while challenging, is much easier than the seated variety and can be incorporated into regular training. Remember, it is much easier to think about technique in your warm-up than when you're clutching the apparatus and trying to work out a tricky move. Develop your good habits and strength while you have time to focus on those details!
Visit @wakefulascentaerial to see the drill and tag with your best attempt!
Want amazing lines in the air? It takes a lot of hard, consistent work, but it gets easier over time and it pays off! Floor drills are my favorite way to improve my aerial technique. It's quite a bit easier to pay attention to the important little details when you're not hanging onto an apparatus, whether aerial silks, aerial hoop, trapeze, rope, etc.
Repeating drills helps reinforce movement patterns that we WANT, and untrains habits (ahem, microbends) that we do NOT want! It is 100% worth the effort when you see a video or a photo of you and you've got killer knee extension and impeccable toe point.
These drills target your hip flexors, quads, and calves while also demanding engagement from your core.
Tag @wakefulascent with your best attempt!