The 5 Ultimate Total-body Pole Workout to Get Leaner and Stronger

Oksana Grishina has a fitness secret weapon—innovative pole dancing routines that wow crowds, impress the judges, and have earned her top spots on the podium. “I knew about pole dancing in strip clubs, but when I saw it was becoming part of fitness, I fell in love with it,” says Grishina. “It’s a very challenging routine that I wanted to share. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!”

The IFBB fitness pro quickly learned that training on a pole comes with its own unique set of challenges. “In just three months, my upper body became stronger, and my arms and back became bigger.” While she trains hard with acrobatics, weights, and cardio, she also uses the pole several times a week.

Grishina, who was born in Russia but currently lives in Los Angeles, started to train and compete at an early age as a rhythmic gymnast, while also undergoing intensive dance training. When her gymnastics career ended, she gravitated to competitive fitness. “We finish gymnastics at a young age, and in Russia there are few opportunities afterward. Fitness was new to Russia, and I was the first competitor in my city,” she says. “It was a great way to continue as an athlete, and over time, I learned a whole new lifestyle.”

Grishina is proud of her ability to inspire and motivate others, and she plans to stay involved in fitness after she’s finished competing. “Some day I want to put on my own fitness show to support the industry and new competitors!”

Here, Grishina shows off her favorite pole moves.

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1. In-and-out Squat

In and Out Squat

Works: Glutes, inner and outer thighs, calves

  • Stand with your back to the pole, holding it loosely overhead with both hands. Keep your legs together with feet about 12 inches in front of the pole. Rise up onto the balls of your feet.
  • Squat down, bending knees 90 degrees, keeping heels lifted a few inches off the floor. Use your arms to help keep your back from rubbing on the pole.
  • Stand up, jumping both feet out into a wide stance; keep heels lifted.
  • Repeat squat with feet out to sides, toes pointed out at 45 degrees.
  • Do 10 reps each of in and out squats, two sets total.

Tip: Don’t arch your back as you squat down; move slowly and under control to intensify the movement.

2. Standing Bar Pushup

Standing Bar Pushup

Works: Shoulders, chest, core

  • Stand about 30 inches away from pole, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Rise up onto balls of feet.
  • Bring arms forward, elbows slightly bent, placing right hand on pole at chin height and left hand just below, thumbs pointing down.
  • Staying on balls of feet, bend elbows and lower chest toward pole until chin reaches top hand. Keep elbows parallel to floor and core engaged.

Tip: Keep your heels elevated throughout this exercise to fully engage the leg muscles.

3. Suspended Bar Hold

Suspended Bar Hold

Works: Shoulders, core, hamstrings

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  • Stand facing pole, grasping it with both hands; right hand at chin height with forearm touching pole and left hand just above right in line with forehead, left biceps touching pole. Rise up onto balls of feet near the base of the pole.
  • Keeping right heel lifted, contract left hamstring and curl left leg, bending knee 90 degrees.
  • Gripping bar firmly and keeping left leg lifted, curl right leg until it matches position of left leg. Hold here for 10-30 seconds, then lower back to floor one foot at a time.
  • Perform two sets of 6 holds.

4. Offset Leg Lift

Offset Leg Lift

Works: Abdominals; stabilizes shoulders

  • Stand to the right of the pole. Hold it with both hands, left hand above right, upper arm parallel to floor. Keep your feet together and heels lifted.
  • Keeping your legs together, grasp the poll while lifting both legs until knees are about chest height, knees bent and toes pointed forward. Slowly lower both legs until knees are under your hips.
  • Perform two sets of 10 lifts on each side of pole.

Tip: Think of this movement like a crunch, exhaling as you curl your knees inward to work your abs.

5. Extended Leg/arm Release

Works: Core, agility, and coordination; isometrically works quadriceps

  • Stand square to the pole with one leg on each side, heels lifted. Place your left hand on pole above your head, right hand a few inches below left.
  • Lift yourself up onto pole a few feet off floor, wrapping your left leg around the pole while extending your right leg forward, flexing quads and pointing your toes.
  • Lean your head back, keeping legs in place and straightening left arm. Gripping pole firmly with your left hand, release and extend your right arm toward the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, then return right hand to bar.
  • Dismount, reverse hand position and perform movement. Aim to do 5 releases per side for 10 seconds each.

Tip: Perform this move using both hands until you feel comfortable and strong enough to release one arm.

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