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This is a term that gets thrown around a lot in any fitness industry. It’s great because it makes us realise that when we do things over and over, generally, we get better at it. But why is that? And are there ways that we can further utilise it? If these are questions that you’re interested in answering, then read on my friend!

First, I’d like to touch on a subject that I find extremely interesting. I’m going to simplify as much as possible but if anyone is interested in more detail give me a shout! When we do a movement, let’s say an invert, a motor neurological pathway has to be created between the brain and muscles used to create the movement. But, let’s say that it’s the first time we have ever inverted and it doesn’t go to plan. We all know how annoying that is, don’t we? We watch our instructor and think ‘yes, totally understand what is happening’ but your body just isn’t playing ball. Well your cerebellum has your back! This is an area of your brain which has many jobs, but the relevant one here is being a comparator of movement (literally, comparing 2 things). So, when we invert, the cerebellum creates a copy of the movement and therefore holds 2 movements, the intended movement and the movement which actually occurred. In this example we have one movement that is a perfect invert, the intended movement, and another which didn’t go quite to plan, the movement that occurred in reality. With me so far?

This is the awesome bit… the cerebellum now compares the two movements and works out how to refine and correct the movement for you so that next time you try it, your brain has already done some of the work for you by figuring out what went wrong the first time. How awesome is that?! Of course, this is only one of the many factors that contribute. We need to build strength for the move which you might not quite have yet. But the more you repeat the more your brain knows what you need to do and of course the more strength you’ll gain within that movement.

How can we use this to its full potential in our pole dance practice?

1. Do not give up on a move just because it doesn’t make sense first time.

2. THINK about your movement. As you can see above, the actual intention behind your movement is a big part of training. Your brain is literally using your intention of movement to help correct movements for you. So instead of winging it, try to imagine the movement you want to do before going for it or between attempts. This will help your brain get a good comparison and create more accurate refinements.

3. Imagine it PERFECTLY, not fails. This not only helps the Cerebellum refine your movements but the positive thought will help you feel more confident when next trying the movement.

4. Don’t just rely on this but use it alongside your normal training to help each attempt have maximal accuracy.

Yao 2013 “This finding suggests that repetitive strong intention to maximally activate the elbow flexors trained and enabled the relevant brain regions to generate stronger signals to muscle.”

Anderson 2011 “This study succeeded in increasing exercise behaviour using guided imagery”