Going for Gold – How to train to be a professional aerial artist without coming in last

Posted by: on April 26, 2013

woman climbing rope

Today’s question comes from a recent aerial addict. She asks, “Mama Silk, I LOVE aerial and want to become a professional. I’m going to train six days a week to get super good, super fast. What do you think?”

I love the enthusiasm. And, if you believe the adage that it takes 10,000 hours to be a master at a particular skill, then I can understand the sense of urgency in getting good fast. The thought process goes something like this: ‘Let’s see, I could train 5 hours a week from now till the end of the world, or  I could train 1000 hours a week* and be an expert by the end of the summer!’ Let’s face it, who doesn’t love a shortcut to excellent results? But are the results from super intense training all that excellent?

Sadly, no. And overtraining can actually set you back instead of helping you reach your goal faster. That sentence bears repeating. In bold. Overtraining can actually set you back instead of helping you reach your goal faster.

It’s important to take good care of your body and to pace yourself if you want to have a career of any longevity. The impatience and exuberance of youth can lead to over doing it. Injuries stink, slow down your training, and are often with you forever…

‘But it won’t happen to me. I’m super fit already’.

You may be. But ask yourself if your current stability and strength lie in the key body areas we use in aerial.  Many times I have cautioned eager new students to take it slow and easy. They groan when I start class with warming up shoulders, back and lower abs, and when we end class with conditioning. They just want to get right to the drops.  There are places that ‘teach’ like that, but I don’t recommend them. The risk of injury is far greater.

image icining knee

What is overtraining?

Overtraining means that the volume and intensity of your training exceed your capacity for recovery. Listen to your body. When you overtrain, you can actually lose strength and be more prone to injury.

Signs of overtraining:

-constant muscle soreness

-more injuries


-weight loss

-more frequent colds/flus


Prevention is key.

Increase the intensity and frequency of your workouts gradually. Allow for adequate rest between workouts. Focus on stability first, then on increasing strength and endurance.  Remember that training volume should be inversely proportional to intensity. The higher the physical intensity of a particular skill, the less frequently it should be done in a workout.

Your training plan should contain adequate rest periods and vary the amount of stress placed on the each part of the body to build strength and prevent injury.  There’s a reason those bodybuilder guys don’t train chest and back 6 days a week. Their muscles, and yours, need a rest in between. Consider keeping a training log and consulting a skilled teacher who can help you build a training program that will help you meet your goals while keeping you as healthy and injury free as possible.

Stay safe – Train Smart.


Mama Silk


*Yes, Mama Silk knows there are really only 168 hours in a given week. I took artistic licence with the math to make a point.

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