A proper pole climb is an important part of pole dancing, helping you move up and down the pole with ease and grace. It’s important to note that the pole climb engages several parts of your body, which means you never have to muscle your way up, as that makes the climb look forced, and you’ll tire yourself out quickly. We’ll also be covering how to keep your toes pointed through the climb.
This climb is also sometimes called the x-climb, front climb, crucifix climb, or simply “climb.” This is one of the first moves you’ll typically learn in a pole dancing class, as it opens you up to a whole world of new moves. Learning the pole climb also helps you get used to the feeling of pushing against the pole and using your whole body to move up, rather than muscling your way up.
Want to see our new pole climb tutorial?
We’ve rebooted this tutorial to make it more streamlined, informational and easy to read. You can view it on our pole dance move dictionary.
Basic Climb: Starting Position
In the basic climb starting position, you’ll be starting at a comfortable distance behind the pole. In this video, we are using our right hand to start; however, it’s important to always practice both sides. You can practice the left side by using the opposite arm and leg in these instructions.
- Start with your right hand high on the pole with your shoulders engaged.
- (This arm will later be bent in a forearm brace, which you’ll learn in the next video.)
- Tuck your right leg up high, pointing your toes and connect your shin to the pole. Your knee should be on the outside of the pole and your shin should follow the pole with your ankle behind the pole.
- Grab the pole with your left hand just under your right, keeping your shoulders engaged and squared.
- Bring your left leg up, connect your ankle in front of the pole, and connect your knees as if you are squeezing the pole between your knees. Your legs will be crossed slightly with the pole on the inside, and you will be in a sitting position.
- SQUEEZE (and keep pointing those toes!)
TIP: You can read more about achieving a proper toe point in this article. It’s helpful to think about pushing down and through the ball of your foot, keeping the pole right above your ankle joint. Flexing or hooking your foot here may feel stable, but it encourages bad habits and bruising.
Remember to keep your shoulders engaged and down here; if you sink down into yourself without engaging the shoulders, you are encouraging injury over time through improper muscle development.
Basic Climb: Rolling Up
When you go to roll your body up in a climb, you aren’t muscling your way up. It’s important to understand how each part of your body moves in a climb so you can get the most energy-efficient (and aesthetically pleasing) climb out of it. All of your power is coming from your quads and core; your arms are simply there to support your weight and allow your body to hinge upwards.
Even if you prefer reading how to do a move, we suggest watching the video on this one to understand the different aspects.
Brace Against Your Forearm
Bracing your forearm against the pole will help you stay away from the pole and achieve a beautiful climb, as well as conserve energy. You can start your climb with a forearm brace to help you get that initial tuck, and create a more seamless look.
- Your right arm in this example will be at about a 90-degree angle.
- Brace your forearm along the pole the same way you did with your shins. Your wrist goes to the outside, your forearm follows along the pole at a slight angle, so your elbow is to the back of the pole.
- If you don’t keep your elbow behind the pole, you’re likely to have trouble with collapsing into the pole, which is something you want to avoid.
- The other arm will go high above your bent arm, allowing you to move into another climb later.
Hinging With the Hips
Your body is a hinge here, starting with the hips and rolling up the pole. Remember, you’re not muscling your way up; that will tire you out quickly and looks sloppy. Just remember: tuck and roll up!
- Tuck your hips in, engaging the lower part of your core.
- Using that hip tuck, roll up and into the pole, as if you were pinched in the booty.
- As you bring the pole to your chest, reset your forearm brace position, which you’ll learn below.
Go Into Another Climb
You’ve mastered the climb and you feel comfortable with doing one, but you want to move up the pole even further.
- From your full, braced climb position, tuck and hinge your hips up. You’ll be “standing” upright, in a Crucifix
- Switch your arms. For example, if you used your right arm to brace, your left arm would have been on top. When you switch, your right hand will come off and move up, re-gripping above your left. Your left arm would now be braced.
- Bring both legs up and re-grip with the knees, shin, and ankle.
- Your legs should only come off enough to tuck and re-grip the pole. You’ll be in the same position you were in before, with knees to the outside and ankles crossed, but higher.
- You can give yourself more space by pushing your knees out when you come off the pole to re-grip.