Training for Inverts without an Apparatus

Training for aerial inverts can be tricky when you don’t have access to the equipment. Especially if you’re away for longer periods of time it can be hard to tell if you’re progressing in the right direction.

Here are some exercises you can do at home or at the gym, depending on the equipment available. Some don’t require any at all. Of course there are more available and useful exercises than the ones I listed, but I tried to keep the list minimal for efficiency.

The two main physical components to inverting are upper body strength and core strength.

Upper body strength

If you were to practice a single upper body exercise for inversions, it’s pull ups. You don’t have to be able to do a pull up yet, there are progressions available. You can also try wide, narrow, or chin up grip for variety.

So if you have any kind of access to a bar suitable for pull ups – either at home (some options here), at a gym, or a nearby park, use that.

If none of those are a viable option, try bent over rows if you have access to dumbbells (or other heavy objects you can hold in one hand) or inverted rows if you have access to a lower bar, a steady table, or something similar. If you have no equipment whatsoever, you can practice scapula push ups (push ups where you only move your shoulders basically). But if you just need to go a bit out of your way to find an actual pull up bar, I promise it’ll be worth it.

Core strength

My top recommended exercise for building the required core strength would be hollow hold or dish. There are progressions available if you can’t do the full expression. If this is doable, you can make it harder by adding leg lifts for example. (But if you’re doing the dish fully with perfect form, core strength might not be your issue…)

The key thing about this one is that your lower and mid back should be pressing into the floor. If they come off and you arch your back, it’s useless. It’s better to stick to a more basic version that you can do properly than lowering your legs to the point where you lose your form.

Second choice would be plank. If you find those easy or boring, there’s many ways to make them harder: lift some combination of limbs, go up and down on your elbows, tilt side to side, etc.

Again, the most important thing is to do it with proper form, or it’s not going to be effective. Core needs to be engaged and tailbone tucked. The line of your body should be relatively straight from shoulders to feet. If your hips are sagging, or if you’re going too far the other way into something more like downward dog, you’re not doing it right. Press with your hands and into your shoulders, a bit like the “cat” part of cat cows you might know from yoga or warm ups.

Woman doing plank

There are many more options if you want more variety or to target a particular area/movement. For inspiration, check out Youtube. Here is a good example of a short but intense routine:

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