How to Safely Train Aerial Skills on the Ground
Safety considerations are keeping many of us out of the studio right now, and for a large portion of our community, that means we’re unable to train in the air. No one likes being grounded, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of your training. A lot of aerial conditioning can also be done on the ground. Today, we’re going to dive into just one type of exercise that can be done anywhere and is guaranteed to keep your aerial game on point: static hold exercises.
The Joy of Static Holds
Static holds are excellent for building strength and stability, and many of them can be done with no equipment and using very little room – perfect for smaller spaces. We recommend holding each position for one minute, but if you’re not there yet, start smaller and work your way up. If a minute feels too easy, keep going. Ideally, the last few seconds of a static hold should feel like you’re being pushed to your limit, like you’re not sure how much longer you could go.
Note: If you’re making compensations in your form to reach the end of your set time, you’re holding for too long. Holding a static position with improper form not only means your muscles aren’t getting the benefits of the work, but also could mean that you’re setting yourself up for an injury. A better option: Do one shorter set, take a break and reset your position, then do a second set.
Remember to keep your belly pulled in, and don’t let your hips drop or pike up. Keep your head in line with your neck. Push the floor away from you, and imagine you’re trying to pull your hands apart. If your wrists bother you, come down onto your elbows. For an extra challenge, put your hands on tennis or lacrosse balls instead of the floor. You could also try reverse plank (chest facing the ceiling, legs straight or bent with feet flat on the floor) and side plank (make a straight line from your top to bottom hands and keep your hips up). Remember to do both sides if you choose a side plank.
There are so many variations of this exercise – pick one that feels challenging but allows you to maintain proper form. For beginners, lie on your back, cradle your head in your hands, and bring your legs into a tabletop, with knees bent at 90 degrees. More advanced options include taking the legs straight up to the ceiling or out to an angle between the ceiling and the floor. You can also bring the arms down by your sides or take them straight overhead. Make sure your back stays flat against the floor, and try to avoid letting your belly puff out.
Front balance success comes from working those back muscles! Lie on your belly, engage your core, and lift your arms, upper body, and legs, all together. Squeeze your butt. Look forward. Engage your legs, trying to straighten and bring them together. Pull your shoulders away from your ears and actively point or flex your feet. Arms can be by your sides, out in a T, or overhead.
Don’t let your upper body have all the fun! Work your legs and glutes by placing your back against a wall and sinking down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, with knees right above your ankles and feet flat. Keep your back flat against the wall. Arms can rest at your sides, or you can bring them straight out in front of you.
Making Static Holds More Fun
Static holds are often a mental game, so try distracting yourself to make the time go by faster. Put on a playlist of favorite songs while you work out. Schedule a Zoom date with an aerial buddy and catch up while you train together. And above all, remember to breathe.