In the last post, you had a chance to learn how to plan a workout at home, how to go about it and generally get your act together. The quarantine is still in place, and the possibility to do cardio outdoors has (unfortunately) been taken away from us. That is why I want to share some further insights on home training.

Last time I mentioned that motor preparation for aerial training - whether we are talking about silks or - is practically the same. We won’t find enormous differences between the two. If you haven't read the previous post yet, you can find it here: Aerial home training.

Strength training as part of motor preparation for aerial sports

Aerial training should be divided in terms of training units that we focus on during a given training session. Let's divide aerial training in terms of motor skills:

  1. strength training,
  2. flexibility training.

Today I will focus on the first one - our favourite: conditioning!

Strength training - do you mean push ups?

Let's consider what strength training actually is. By definition, strength training aims to gradually overload the muscular and neurological system in order to achieve the set goal - it can be understood in various ways. Your goal may be to do 152 inverts on the silks without rest, hold the meathook for 2 minutes, or do six spinning inverts in less than 20 seconds.

The goal of strength training can therefore be:

  • learning a new element,
  • increasing the number of repetitions,
  • increasing the duration of the series / element,
  • increasing the weight during the exercise.

Have you tried doing spinning inverts with a 6kg weight? It’s great! Give it a go! 🙂

Strength training is usually associated with burning abs, hands swollen after holding the silk and a few other classics, such as push-ups, jackknives or crisscrosses ... Gym trainers and instructors will probably associate all those with whining ;) Trust me - instructors do it for your sake. Strength training is crucial in our discipline. You must remember that when working in the air, you rely on your own arms and abs strength. Strength training allows you to train safely and prevent possible injuries. If you can't support yourself, no one else will do it for you.

Most instructors are very methodical about incorporating strength training into each class (at the end or at the beginning of the class - I wrote about it in the first post). This time you are responsible for yourself and you have to discipline yourself. So let's get down to business. Below you can read about strength training as an independent training unit, lasting from 60 to 90 minutes. I hope you’ll appreciate it!

Types of strength training

  1. Full Body Workout. FBW training is a whole-body strength training. During a training session, we focus on general strengthening of each part of the body. Its main goal is to exercise the whole body in one training unit. This type of training is the most strenuous for our central nervous system. During FBW training, we use exercises that involve different muscle groups at the same time - for example, squats.
  2. Split training - segment training. The idea of segment training, as the name suggests, is to build strength in specific segments. We exercise selected muscle groups - for example only the abs or only the legs. This type of training does not burden the central nervous system as much as FBW does, so it can be used as a training unit up to 5 times a week. This training works best for body building and endurance - that's why you usually deal with this type of training during your regular aerial classes.
  3. Circuit training - the so-called "stations". The idea of circuit training is to do between nine and twelve exercises, one after the other - with the appropriate number of repetitions, and then start the circuit again. We do between two and three circuits. Circuit training helps you build strength endurance without gaining excess muscle mass. We can do two to three circuit training sessions a week.


Strength training and strength endurance training

Simple? Not so fast. Strength training should be distinguished from strength endurance training - despite the fact that the assumptions are similar, we are dealing here with two different training units. Strength training mainly focuses on increasing the load and resistance we work with. Strength endurance training is based on increasing the number of repetitions - we can of course scale it by increasing the load, but we still want to increase the intensity first of all. Simply put: a lot and quickly. When your goal is to do inverts wearing ankle weights throughout your training - it will be strength training. However, if you decide that you want to do as many up-and-down entries on the silk as possible without interruption in the shortest possible time - it will be strength endurance training. Which do we need more? Unfortunately, you cannot ignore either of these. Both types of training are equally important.

What do we need to strenghten? First of all: ABS!

What is the role of our muscle corset and abdominal muscles in aerial acrobatics? In most physical activities, the performance of the muscle corset is extremely important. The abdominal muscles are responsible for controlling the generally understood center, which in most sports is responsible for the so-called “posture". The posture is one of the most important components of the technique of many sports, such as: classical dance, sports acrobatics, aerial acrobatics or gymnastics. Especially in gymnastics and aerial acrobatics, the posture is crucial. It is the foundation and lack of proper posture makes it impossible to achieve a more advanced level in the above-mentioned sports.

The main functions of the muscular corset:

  • prevents the torso from bending forwards and backwards,
  • prevents the torso from bending to the sides,
  • prevents torso rotation.

We have to be aware that very often the work that should be done by our abdominal muscles is in fact performed by the our lower back. Therefore, we should always do exercises that will allow us to isolate the desired muscle group. NOTE! Traditional school crunches, during which you get up to sit - are not an example of such an exercise! What you need are exercises based on the "Gymnastic body" or hollow body.

To do a “hollow body” correctly, you need to:

  1. Keep the pelvis tilted backwards.
  2. Think about keeping the abdomen in constant tension (we pull the belly in!).
  3. Think about pulling your belly in to the centre.
  4. Do not push off your shoulders, do not push the chest forwards.
  5. CRUCIAL: LOWER BACK NEEDS TO BE IN CONTACT WITH THE FLOOR! If you can’t help lifting your lower back and creating space between it and the floor - lift your legs up in such a way that the lower back is glued to the floor again.
  6. Gently round your back.

Apart from the general value of this shape, in which elements will you be able to use it 1: 1? Certainly in a fast spin, i.e. getting into very fast rotation, after first having unwound - from the position of the scissors on the silk, or from the position of a leg passe. Being under the wheel - the shape is required in the last phase of the element - in the rotation phase. In rolls, i.e. in the most recognisable elements on Instagram recently. Yes, we make correct and safe rolls through this gymnastic shape! Both those on the elbows and those styled as gymnastic rolls in a straight position. I advise you to forget about backbending and bending the legs, while pushing out the chest and pulling the head ... More difficult? Yes. But the effect is definitely worth the effort.

Secondly, we strengthen the SHOULDERS!

The shoulder girdle is crucial when it comes to motor training. It is especially important if you are at the stage of more advanced strength elements, such as flags or more advanced meathook combinations. Let's start with the fact that the vast majority of aerialists has a bad free-hanging shoulder position. What does it mean? The arms come close to our ears, the shoulders are not "lowered down". Often we do not think about the flexing the back at all and the head hides somewhere between the loose shoulder blades and our biceps. It is not safe for the back or the shoulder girdle. Unfortunately, shoulder failure and overload quickly leads to an injury or a considerable limitation of mobility. Not to mention the pain that accompanies the simplest elements, and even ordinary bridges. It is therefore worth paying attention to the shoulders and giving them proper attention.


Thirdly, we strengthen the BACK

The basis of any movement is enabling different forces to flow: like a nerve impulse or a mechanical force. This is referred to as "force transfer" in the scientific literature. Colloquially speaking, this transfer takes place in all directions of our body, although most often we distinguish between "up" and "down". For this reason, we divide our body into three motion control zones:

  • ower (responsible for controlling vertical force: shock absorption, controlling momentum, support, balance) - it is made of the lower back, knee joints and ankle joints), 
  • central (responsible for the transfer of forces in gravitational positions, it depends on the lower control zone),
  • upper (the function depends on the lower control zone) - consists of shoulder blades, shoulder joints, and the chest.

Several force flow strategies have been developed for these 3 zones. These are models showing how the transfer can take place in the body while you are out doing exercises.


Armor strategy

In aerial training we will use the so-called armor strategy. This model is about stopping the force flow through the body and eliminating independent movement between zones of control. An example of an armor strategy will be all kinds of exercises that involve the stabilization of the lower control zone with the help of the body (e.g. a muscle corset). The abdominal muscles are responsible for controlling the overall center, which stabilizes the pelvis and the lower back region. Examples of armor strategy exercises are plank and hollow body. These exercises constrain the shoulders, force them to be seated, tighten the shoulder blades, and the torso is pressed against the pelvis. The armor strategy prevents the transfer of forces in the upward relative to the vertical axis (as if we were spinning). That is why we should exercise our backs - they create a "shell" that allows us to stabilize our body on a silk and on a hoop. As a result, we do not bend painfully. The strong muscles of the corset also mean that when the stomach is to work - it does the job, and when the back is to work, only the back works.

You can read about the beneficial effect of strengthening the back in flexibility and mobility training in the next post :)

Can we leave out the rest?

Oh no, by no means. I have focused only on the "foundations" of strength training in aerial sports. Wrists, glutes and legs are also of great importance! In the next post, we will discuss the issue of legs and glutes in terms of mobility and flexibility training, and for now ... Good luck with your strength training!

P.S. Did you like the post? Share it or comment. We can’t wait to read your opinions on the content!

Emilia Dawiec