Grip strength is going to help you in every area of pole whether you’re doing a simple spin, holding yourself up in Janeiro, or trying to master your tabletop. We’ll take you through a variety of grip strength exercises that will help you achieve your goal moves, as well as the different type of hand grips you’ll be training. Typically, pole dancing incorporates a mix of Crush and Support grip. It is, however, important to strengthen all types of grip to keep the muscles in your hands and forearms balanced.


If you’re not interested in learning about the different types of grip you can train, skip right to the “Pre-Strength Training Advice” section.

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Small Wins Are Important.

If you don’t track your progress, it can be discouraging. It’s easy to ask, “What’s the point?” Not being able to see those small wins will make you less likely to continue with your conditioning routine, especially if you are poling from home.

If you want to see a noticeable improvement, it’s important to track everything. Set a timer, commit to a timeline, and commit to a goal.

For example, we’ll say you’ve committed to doing a dead hang every morning while your morning coffee is brewing; that’s your timeline. You’ve set your goal at 2 minutes. Start your timer, start the hang and record your time. See how much you improve in a week!

Classic Types of Hand Grip

Crush Grip

You might see a Crush Grip at the gym while someone is lifting weights – they’ve got their full hand wrapped around the handle and they’re tightening their fingers and palm into it to keep it in place.

In pole, you’ll use it for a variety of things from simply grasping the pole during a spin or hold. This is the most common grip in many pole dance moves because you’re actively holding yourself up or to the pole.

Open Crush Grip

Open crush grip is nearly the same as crush grip. It is common where the object is bigger than the hand can wrap around, which means different muscles are engaged than with regular crush grip.

In pole, there won’t be too much of a use for it, unless you have incredibly small hands and you’re working with a 50mm pole. There is, however, a myriad of uses outside of pole and it’s still important to strengthen open crush grip to maintain overall muscle balance.

Pinch Grip

Pinch grip is commonly used for holding things where any crush grip is impractical. Imagine you’re holding a book by the spine; there’s nowhere for your fingers to wrap around, so your thumb naturally goes to one side while the rest of the fingers are on the other and you squeeze it between your hand to keep it in place.

On the pole, this grip is rarely used, if it is at all, but it is still important to exercise it so you maintain muscle balance.

Support Grip

This grip can be seen when someone is hanging from something such as a bar, or over the edge of something, and all their fingers are to one side. This is commonly called Cup Grip in pole.

In pole, this is used in a variety of power spins, floorwork, and many on-the-pole tricks that require a cup grip, such as shoulder mount.

Hand Extension

A Hand Extension help you let go of something in a controlled manner. These are the muscles that engage when you want to come out of a hand grip.

In pole, this is used any time we come out of a hand grip, even if it’s something as simple as a steparound spin.

Pre-Strength Training Advice


Before we get into the exercises, there area few points we want to touch on. With any exercise, it’s always important to begin with discretion; if something hurts, don’t do it! You know your body best. Only push yourself to your own limit, not to someone else’s.


  • Always remember to warm up with some stretches!

Giving everything a good warm up will help prevent strain and injury on your muscles. Stretching will also help you keep all your wonderful mobility even as your strength increases.  Here are a few quick stretches you can do anywhere you are:

  • Hold your arm straight out in front of you and, with your other hand, pull all your fingers back to achieve a nice stretch. Hold it here for a few seconds and move on to each individual finger, from the pinky to the thumb. Reverse and go from the thumb to the pinky. Repeat on the other hand.


  • Get into tabletop position with your knees hip-width apart, place one hand in front of each knee, palm facing away from you (fingers towards you.) Lean back so you’re sitting on your heels and you can feel a comfortable stretch through your wrist and forearm. Hold it for about 30 seconds.


  • Circle your wrists. You can be standing, sitting, laying down – wherever you are. Go as slowly as you want and try to reach the maximum motion you can with these circles.


  • Don’t over-do it.

Low-weight reps are fine. Remember, your body repairs muscle tissue during rest periods, and that’s when you’ll see strength gains. If you don’t allow your body that rest period, you’ll tire yourself out, and potentially cause injury.


  • Don’t forget the rest of your body!

Strengthening just your hands won’t be the miracle answer to weak holds and overall strength. Good grip doesn’t stop in the hands, but extends to the wrist, elbow, shoulder and upper back. Give everything a good stretch and remember to work out the rest of your body too!

Dead Hang

What You’ll Need:


What This Trains: Support Grip


The Dead Hang is a rather easy grip exercise that will, as a bonus, help relieve and compression soreness in your spine.

It’s important to note that your body below the chest is limp here; your hands are engaged and engaging your hand will naturally engage your forearms. Your shoulders are engaged and down to avoid injury and pinching. Everything below that is “dead weight.” You can even see in the image how Destynnie’s shoulders are engaged while the rest of her body is relaxed.

Here’s What You Need to Know:

  • Stand underneath your pull-up bar. Engage your shoulders down.
  • Grab the pull-up bar in support (cup) grip, keeping the shoulders engaged.
    • Remember, support grip has all fingers on one side.
  • Let your body below your shoulders hang loose, keeping your feet off the ground.
    • You’ll feel the weight transfer to your fingers and upper palm.
  • Hang here for 1-2 minutes, or as long as you can.

Dead Hang with a Towel

What You’ll Need:


What This Trains: Crush Grip

This variation of the dead hang helps develop your forearm muscles as well as your triceps and lats. You’re probably thinking “Really? This is what you’re going to show me?” but give it a try. It’s a lot harder to do than it looks, and it’s so beneficial for your support grip! If you thought pull ups were tough in the beginning, get ready for pull ups 2.0!

Here’s What You Need to Know:

  • Thread your towel through the pull-up bar. Be careful not to have the weight against any joints in the bar.
    • Mine has a joint in the middle, for example, so my towel is over one of the hand grips.
  • Engage your shoulders down and grab the towel in a crush grip, thumb wrapped around the opposite side from the rest of your fingers.
  • Let your body below your shoulders hang loose, keeping your feet off the ground.
  • Hang here for 1-2 minutes, or as long as you can.

Plate Grips

What You’ll Need:


What This Trains: Pinch Grip

This exercise focuses more on the fingers than anything else, which is beneficial to any grip. You can have a strong hand grip but if you’re still weak in the fingers, you’ll feel a weak grip on the pole. This is one easy way to exercise your pinch grip wherever you are.

Here’s What You Need to Know:

  • Pull your shoulders back and stand up straight. Grab a weight plate or a heavy book.
    • Try it with a low weight and adjust accordingly.

Extensor Training

What You’ll Need:

  • A rubber band (multiple if it’s not tight enough.)
    • If you don’t like the feeling of a rubber band or want the “right tools for the job” then try extensor resistance bands.

This is an important part of grip strength training. Extensor muscles are the opposing muscles we use to grab onto things, so they won’t be as strong, and therefore need a lower weight when you’re trainingyour grip here. If you can’t let go in a controlled manner, it doesn’t just look sloppy, but you risk putting strain on tendons and muscles in your hand and forearm. Luckily, wrist extensor exercises are an easy thing you can do anywhere you are, and it’s kinda fun, too.

Light wrist extensor exercises are also one part of rehab exercises for tennis elbow (also called lateral epicondylitis) which many pole dancers experience in their pole journey because of weak extensors and forearm muscles. Keep those forearm muscles healthy, girls!


Here’s What You Need to Know:

  • Wrap one or two medium-sized rubber bands around all your fingers, with your hand in a pinch grip.
  • Open your fingers, extending them out and to the sides.
  • Repeat 5-10 times or until lightly fatigued.
    • If you need more resistance here, you can change to a lower size rubber band or add more of the same size band.