How to nail your shoulder mount!

By PoleSphere Team

Posted: Tue 6 Sep, 2022

How to nail your shoulder mount!

Shoulder mounts are on almost every pole dancer’s goal list. And it’s no wonder – they look strong and impressive and are a fantastic way to enter and exit the pole or transition in pole dancing combos. Shoulder mounts are a unique beast in the world of pole. They require a movement that you probably won’t have encountered until you begin learning them, with a new way of engaging your arms, lats, core and hip flexors – all at once. It’s exhausting (but exciting) to even think about!

So how do you nail your shoulder mount? Well, you can always join PoleSphere and let our amazing teachers guide you, or read on for a quick rundown of the things you need to know to get you shoulder mounting like a boss.

PoleSphere Instructor Carlie Hunter
PoleSphere Instructor Carlie Hunter

Baby, work it!

Sorry to break it to you, but it’s time to start shoulder mount conditioning! Working on the conditioning behind ANY trick helps to speed up the process and reduce your risk of injury so you can tick off that goal sooner and safer. And it’s important to note that to start working on shoulder mounts, you need to have a solid straddle invert. This is a good indication that you’re strong enough to begin your journey towards shoulder mounting safely. 

For shoulder mount conditioning, start with your core. Learning how to “zip up” your core and “connect” your hips to your ribs helps you create the pelvic tuck you need when performing a shoulder mount. Some great exercises for this are reverse curls laying on your back, candlesticks and candlestick pikes side-to-side. Another handy core exercise is a Pilates classic called a ‘toe tap’, which challenges your abs and helps you work on that hip-to-rib connection. You start on your back, your thighs together and vertical, shins parallel to the ceiling, 90 degree bend at the knees. From there, you “tap” one foot to the ground at a time, maintaining a stable spinal position (a subtle natural curve that shouldn’t change throughout the movement).

Shoulder mount exercises and conditioning will also include your arms, chest and lats – surprise, surprise! Things such as regular and tricep push-ups, candlesticks while holding the pole above your head and pole pull ups from a seated position will all help to get that upper body nice and strong!

Get low!

Start practising your shoulder mounts from a low position, starting seated on the floor and driving up into the trick from there. This helps to get your hips up easier so that you can focus on other things, like correct technique, for the trick.

As Carlie Hunter demonstrates in our PoleSphere Shoulder Mount tutorial, start sitting with your back against the pole, leaning into the pole on an angle. Look up to the top of the pole and place the pole against your trapezius muscle AKA the squishy part of your shoulder where you get a massage! Cup your hands around the back of the pole like a sloth (thumbs with fingers) and use the ball of your foot to push your booty off the ground while pulling the pole into your shoulder and zipping up your core. Phew. Don’t forget to breathe, friends!

Practising your shoulder mount positioning low like this helps you to create the mind-muscle connections you need (as you do with any new movement) before you try from standing. It’s a fantastic way to get used to how you need to engage while remaining safe.

Let’s chat technique

As mentioned, shoulder mounts will introduce a new type of movement into your pole dance repertoire, which can come with some challenges.

One of the common problems that pole dancers encounter is their arm positioning. Arms need to remain bent, and hands not too high, so that you can pull the pole into your shoulder and engage your biceps, lats and back muscles. Your elbows should remain relatively parallel and with your hips. Avoid letting your elbows point outwards or inwards too much. Instead, think about pulling them towards your tummy. They need to remain bent throughout the entire movement. If they begin to lengthen, reset and focus on maintaining the bend.

And don’t forget, you also need to think about your lower body! Really pulling your knees towards your shoulders as you tuck your pelvis and engage your core is important. Your hip flexors and abs are absolutely vital in learning to lift into this awesome trick.

Give it whirl

Now that you have been working on shoulder mount conditioning from the floor and you’re feeling strong and you understand the technique, it’s time to shoulder mount!

Start from a standing position leaning back into the pole so that you find the correct shoulder placement. Think about your arm engagement and test the waters with a few scissor kicks and lifting your feet off the ground. Did your shoulder slip from under you or your arms sag and lengthen? No? Then let’s try taking it into a straddle.

Think about keeping your arms pulling, core engaged and knees tucked up towards shoulders. If you can get horizontal in that position, lengthen your legs and squeeze your quads for good leg tension in your straddle. Make sure that your booty doesn’t come up too high – parallel to the floor or just a touch higher is good. It’s heavy so we want to avoid having that weight above us, driving us down towards the floor, which can be dangerous. Remember, keep that pelvis tucked and zipped up with no arching in your lower back as you lift into the movement!

Keep your legs wide in the straddle position to stay balanced and BREATHE! Tuck them back in to begin your descent and remember to control your way back down to standing. This will help strengthen the muscles needed to get up, and also a fast, uncontrolled descent is a bad habit to teach your body and can cause injuries.

Once you have a strong, consistent shoulder mount from standing, there are so many cool ways to use it! You can take it aerial, use it to shoulder dismount off the pole and even to flip! Not to mention the different hand grip and arm positions to try with the shoulder mount. Have fun exploring this nugget of a pole dancing trick and get ready to open a whole new world!

PoleSphere Instructor Andrea James Lui in a Shoulder Mount variation. Photo courtesy of Chi Chu Photography
PoleSphere Instructor Andrea James Lui in a Shoulder Mount variation. Photo courtesy of Chi Chu Photography

PoleSphere Tutorials to watch:

  • Shoulder Mount Conditioning with Miss Filly
  • Shoulder Mount with Carlie Hunter
  • Aerial Shoulder Mount with Carlie Hunter
  • Shoulder Dismount with Tammy
  • Shoulder Mount Roll Over with Megan B

Other great blogs on shoulder mounts:
Anatomy of a Shoulder Mount by The Pole Physio

Read it here:


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By PoleSphere Team

PoleSphere was created by a team of entrepreneurial pole dancers, including the founders of the industry's longest running print mag, an internationally-renowned pole champion and a few talented designers and developers. Our vision is to provide a truly progressive online learning platform, that can support not only students and instructors but studio owners too and the industry as a whole, too. We are dedicated to your success!