Circus Fit

I had always simply trained in circus and aerial arts because I did not enjoy exercise and aerial is a source of fun for me. Then certain parts of my body started letting me down as I advanced. It was time for me to start cross-training. David from B.E.A.S.T Performance put together a routine for me so that I can be circus fit all over my body. The focus was on the upper back, core and arms.

Why You Should Cross-Train

The great thing about our bodies is that after six weeks we begin to adapt to movements. This is great for when we are in the air performing tricks, because it becomes easier for us to achieve them.

The downside is that our bodies get used to those movements, so when we advance it does not have that new strength to move through the new range of motion. That is why we cross-train. Cross Training continues to build new strength that our bodies are not used to. While your aerial class may have a good ab work out if it’s always the same it is not going to challenge you. You need to change your strength routine every six weeks in order to gain more strength.

This guide will give you a visual and written guide so once you know the moves you can reference the workout list without scrolling like no tomorrow past the videos.

Circus Fit Abs

As aerialists, our core is constantly used to perform tricks. The level of your core may restrict your ability to perform movements such as an in-air straddle or handstand roll-ups.

This guide is to cross-train your core, so you can get more out of it and rock those circus fit abs!

Muscle Groups Targeted

The anterior abdominal wall. This group of muscles wraps from the ribs to hips in a cross like mannor. This muscles targeted includes:

Obliques Externus & Internus

When this muscle is weak we begin to feel pain in the lumbar spine. This is due to this muscle is involved in controlling pelvic stabilization.

We use our external obliques when we are performing meathooks, hip keys, and tick-tocks just to name a few.

Rectus Abdominis

The recuts abdominis is known as a 6 pack. This is due to the muscle bands dividing themselves into four muscle bellies. The rectus abdominis is utilized in all sports and activities.

Transverse Abdominis

The transverse abdominis is the deepest line of the abdominal wall. We heavily utilise this wall with all aerial movements.

Trapezius

The trapezius allows us to pull the shoulder up or down as well as controlling the scapulars movement. This muscle is important in order to have to keep correct form when we are performing any movements when we are hanging from our hands. This reduces the risk of injury. A common one would be bursitis under the scapula.

These are targeted when we perform close and wide arm pull-ups.

Rhomboids

We activate the rhomboids constantly to ensure that we have good form. When you activate the rhomboids you have better posture. Your shoulders retract and the scapula draws towards the spine. This helps prevent injuries related to the shoulders and back.

V Ups

How to do it:

  • Start laying on the floor on your back.
  • Bring both arms and both legs up at the same time.
  • Tap the feet.
  • Lower the legs.
  • Repeat three rounds of ten sets.

Candlestick

How to do it:

  • Laying flat on your back.
  • Bring your legs up so that your knees and toes are in line with your hips.
  • Engage your core and lift your hips and glues using your core strength.
  • Repeat three rounds of ten sets.

Extended Plank

How to do it:

  • Coming into a plank position.
  • Walk your hands out in front of you as far as you can go.
  • If your feet slip use the wall as a place of stabilization for your feet.

Oblique V Ups

How To Do It:

  • Start laying on the floor on the side of the body.
  • Slightly bring the hips back to your posterior.
  • You want to have your balancing point on glutes, not on the hip.
  • You can use the hand closest to the floor stabilization.
  • Bring both arms and both legs up at the same time.
  • Lower the legs.
  • Repeat three rounds of ten sets.

6 Inch Holds

How To Do It

  • Laying on your back.
  • Lift your chest and your heels off the ground.
  • Keep the feet low at 6″ off the floor.
  • Hold for 60 seconds.
  • Repeat three times.

Circus Fit Rhomboids

It is no doubt that our rhomboids, trapezius, and biceps need to be strong in order to lift and hold us. Here are a few exercises to strengthen your upper back.

Rows

This movement can be done facedown on a bench or standing. If you don’t have a bar you can use free weights mimicking the same motion.

How to do it:

  • Standing with the feet hip-width apart.
  • Shoulders are back.
  • Bend at the hip.
  • Do not arch your back, make sure that the spine is straight.
  • If you feel this movement in the lower back you are doing it wrong and you need to stop.
  • Row the arms back and squeeze your rhomboids (space between your shoulder blades.)
  • Opt for a low weight of 8 -15 pounds and do as many as you possibly can.

Iron Cross Pushups

How to do it:

  • Starting in a regular push up with your knees on the ground.
  • Extend one arm so that the wrists are in line with the shoulders.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Then simply lower the chest and push back to the starting position.
  • Once again do as many repetitions as possible.

Circus Fit Lifts

Pull-Ups Tight

How to do it:

  • With your elbows close to your body and hands in line with shoulders.
  • Use an overhand grip on the bar wrap all your fingers around the bar for maximum grip.
  • Hang freely under the bar. If your feet can still touch the ground, cross them behind you. Tighten your core to prevent your body from swinging.
  • Retract your shoulder blades, as if you’re pinching a pencil between them in the center of your back.
  • Drive your elbows down and back, and pull your chest up toward the bar. Keep your core engaged to prevent you from swinging under the bar.
  • Pause for a moment at the top—with your chin over the bar—and then slowly lower back to the start under control.

Pull-Ups Wide

How to do it:

  • Use an overhand grip on the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Wrap all your fingers around the bar for maximum grip.
  • Hang freely under the bar. If your feet can still touch the ground, cross them behind you. Tighten your core to prevent your body from swinging.
  • Retract your shoulder blades, as if you’re pinching a pencil between them in the center of your back.
  • Drive your elbows down and back, and pull your chest up toward the bar. Keep your core engaged to prevent you from swinging under the bar.
  • Pause for a moment at the top—with your chin over the bar—and then slowly lower back to the start under control.

Chin Ups

How to do it:

  • Grab the pullup bar with your palms down (shoulder-width grip).
  • Hang to the pullup-bar with straight arms and your legs off the floor.
  • Pull yourself up by pulling your elbows down to the floor.
  • Go all the way up until your chin passes the be bar.
  • Lower yourself until your arms are straight.

If you can repeat this circuit three times.

Circus Fit Training Cheat Sheet

  • V Ups
  • Candlestick
  • Plank Extended
  • Oblique V Ups
  • 6 Inch Hold
  • Reverse Rows
  • Cross Pushups
  • Pull-Ups Tight
  • Pull-Ups Wide
  • Repeat three times

How did you go? Do you have an exercise you would like to share? Put it in the comments below.

Stay Strong,

Jadore Vanessa

Vanessa Barthelmes.

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