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Shoulder Mount Conditioning Tips For Intermediate Dancers

Shoulder Mount Pole Dancing Tips

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The shoulder mount is an intermediate-advanced pole dancing trick. It is a method of inverting (going upside down) on the pole that calls for a lot of shoulder strength, which lifts your body off the ground, but also a lot of core strength, which is needed to lift and hold your legs up.

You can’t simply jump straight into a trick like this.

It takes conditioning, planning and preparation, both on and off the pole before attempting a shoulder mount.

As with any advanced pole trick, you need to work towards it.

Quick Summary

  • Shoulder mount is an intermediate-advanced pole dancing trick requiring lots of strength
  • Before attempting it, you should be able to comfortably perform specific tricks such as a basic invert
  • Off-pole conditioning exercises such as shoulder stands and leg raises can help you prepare to shoulder mount
  • The correct shoulder-mount grip should be perfected prior to attempting the move
  • Take your time with this trick – rushing it can lead to long-term injuries!

You should be at the right fitness level before attempting a shoulder mount or you could risk injuring yourself!

You should be able to comfortably perform an aerial invert, a flying v (chopper) and an inverted crucifix (from a regular invert) at the very least before attempting a shoulder mount.

However, you can begin conditioning and preparing yourself for this trick right away!

This article contains tips on how to work towards performing a successful shoulder mount. It really is a very versatile trick, it’s also a wonderful transition move for getting into and out of other poses.

It can, however, be quite tricky to master. This trick feels like such an unnatural position at first. Saying that, it’s perfectly possible for someone of above-average strength to perform a perfect shoulder mount with the correct technique.

So, let’s begin…

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Shoulder Mount Pole Conditioning Tips

Today we’re talking about Shoulder Mount Conditioning Tips for pole dancing.

The shoulder mount is a challenging move that requires a lot of upper body strength and proper technique.

Here are some practical tips to help you master this move and feel confident on the pole.

Shoulder Stands

Do you remember performing shoulder stands when you were a kid?! Let’s start with some off-pole conditioning for your shoulder mount.

To perform a shoulder stand correctly, start by lying completely flat on your back and keep your legs straight in front of you. Keep your arms straight by your side. Do not lift your head or neck up at all.

Raise your legs up off the group until your (pointed!) toes are pointing at the ceiling. Then, slowly raise your butt and lower back off the ground until you’re balancing on your shoulders.

It can take some practice and coordination to find the right position for you balance. Just be careful not to raise your head or neck off the floor! If you find it difficult to balance, place your hands on your butt cheeks to support yourself, but don’t rely on them too much.

Once you can manage a full shoulder stand, try to hold it for as long as you can – this will strengthen your shoulders, helping you prepare for a shoulder mount. Also, try holding your legs in different positions:

Shoulder stand variations - off-pole conditioning for your shoulder mount
Try these variations of a shoulder stand using your legs, a ‘V’ shape is also good for pole conditioning.

Related: When will I learn how to do a pole invert?

Leg Raises

Leg raises are another excellent off-the-pole conditioning exercise. Lie flat on the ground with your arms behind your head. Make sure your legs are straight and your toes are pointed (it helps engage more muscles if your toes are pointed).

Keeping your legs straight, lift your feet just a few inches above the ground.

Do not lift your head up – keep staring at the ceiling. Hold your feet just a few inches off the ground for 5 seconds, then point your feet at the ceiling and hold for another 5 seconds.

Bring your feet back down to a few inches off the floor and hold it again. Repeat this movement for 12 repetitions, rest for a minute, then perform another set.

Leg raises
Slowly lower your legs towards the ground until they’re hovering. Keep your back and neck straight. Don’t be tempted to bend your knees at all! Keeping your legs straight and off the ground is what makes this exercise more challenging.

This exercise is amazing for working the lower abdominal muscles and will help tone up that ‘pouch’ that so many women dislike having.

Related: How to get upper-body strength for pole dancing

Practice the Should Mount Grip with your Feet on the Ground

Your pole instructor should demonstrate the correct shoulder mount grip to you. You should be standing with your back facing the pole and the pole on your dominant shoulder.

You then place your inner hand above your shoulder on the pole, your outer hand then goes above that hand with both your palms behind the pole.

Your thumbs and fingers should be ‘cupped’ behind the pole. Both your elbows should be bent.

It’s important that your grip is strong and your body is in the right position, once you begin inverting, you can’t lose your grip or you’ll slip and probably fall quite badly.

Your hands and shoulder are the only points of contact, so it’s very important to become comfortable with this grip as part of your conditioning.

Shoulder mount grip
An illustration of the shoulder mount grip, with both palms facing forward (sorry it’s so dark)

Get used to being in this position, as it may feel uncomfortable at first. But soon you’ll realise how this starting position works, which is important to do before you start to lift yourself.

There are actually several variations of the Shoulder Mount grip. What I’ve just described is the most common, ‘true’ shoulder mount grip. It’s also less-commonly taught with your top hand inverted (thumb at the top and palm facing backward) with your lower hand in the same position as true grip. This is sometimes called a ‘Twisted Grip Shoulder Mount’ or an ‘Inverted Shoulder Mount Grip’.

You can familiarize yourself with these different types of Shoulder Mount Grips with your instructor to guide you.

Related: The Truth about Twisted Grip – Is is bad for you?


Shoulder Mount grip ‘knee raises’

Now that you’re used to the Shoulder Mount grip, you can use this to perform some conditioning exercises with the pole. Stand in a shoulder mount grip, then lift your feet a few inches off the floor, with the aim of bringing your knees up to your chest.

Maintain your position with your head back and shoulder firmly against the pole. Keep your knees together as you begin to lift legs up.

Repeat this movement with 3 sets of 3 (resting in between) as part of your pole conditioning routine.

For advanced polers who can already shoulder mount, try performing three full knee raises, as slowly as you can without touching your feet to the floor!

Shoulder Mount laying down on the floor

Lay down flat on the floor with the pole on your dominant shoulder. Make sure you have enough space in front of you to lie completely flat with your legs straight.

Put your hands into the shoulder mount grip while you’re lying down.

Keeping your butt on the floor, lift your legs up as high as you can, trying your best to keep them as straight at possible.

Work your way up towards a full shoulder stand with your hands in this position. For extra strength-building, perform this as slowly as possible from the floor and make the descent as slow as possible too!

Shoulder mount grip
Notice the lines of the body in this diagram. Her chest points towards the ceiling and her legs are completely straight.

Related: 6 Classic Pole Dance Tricks for Beginners

Once you can Shoulder Mount, what’s next?

From your shoulder mount, there are plenty of advanced and impressive tricks you can go into!

For example:

  • Brass monkey
  • Inverted crucifix
  • Gemini
  • Caterpillar
  • Scorpio
  • Pike leg hold
  • Butterfly
  • Shoulder Mount plank
  • Shoulder Mount ‘V’

What are your favorite combos that include a shoulder mount?

Want more Pole Tricks?

Get your copy of the Pole Tricks Handbook – includes Shoulder Mount plus hundreds more!

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Related: 5 Ways to get into a Superman Pose

Tips for getting the perfect shoulder mount - intermediate and advanced pole dancing trick
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Happy poling!

1 thought on “Shoulder Mount Conditioning Tips For Intermediate Dancers”

  1. I used to pole dance (euphemism for stripper) I did earn my nursing license, Yea! Am 53 now and want that fun work out again. Always loved gymnastics. I’m finally getting an x-pole! Loved the shoulder mount (except the bruise on my collar bone) I’m definitely learned from this post. TY

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