The Great Invert Debate: Can You Kick?

Full disclosure: I have always been anti-kick in my inverts.

Even before I could chopper, I remember looking at girls pushing off the floor to invert with a kind of disdain. CHEATERS, I thought.

I just feel like this is what tends to happen…

But like many beliefs we hold dear in life, my feelings to this effect have less to do with personal experience and more to do with “well, that’s what I was taught when I first started!”

Reasons Why Kicking Is Bad (I always thought)

1. It’s CHEATING, you cheating cheaters!

2. You’re developing a false sense of your own strength

3. …which you’ll become devastatingly aware of when you try an aerial invert.

4. You’re reinforcing bad habits.

But then I watched Leigh Ann’s video offering tips for the most recent flow challenge (involving inverts, natch), and her nonchalance about kicking… well… it kind of won me over.

1. Better to get comfortable inverting as quickly as possible (and lord knows a deadlift chopper can take frickin’ forever)

2. Inverting, even through kicking, helps build muscles that will enable you to invert better! IE. kicking inverts are better prep for deadlift ones than, well, not inverting at all.

3. She didn’t explicitly say this, but, generally her opinion seemed to be that there’s no reason to set up such a tough barrier to inverting for yourself as it just leads to frustration and cuts off your access to a variety of tricks/poses you could be battling your way through.

Now, as a form stickler… I’m conflicted here. I definitely feel part of the “If you can’t do it right, don’t do it” camp, especially when inverting and, it follows, safety is involved.

But I also wonder how much time I lost working on difficult tricks because I just couldn’t deadlift-chopper yet (and lord knows I tried all the time, and did ALL the reverse crunches).

What do you guys think? Do you HAVE your deadlift chopper or do you kick into inverts?

Here’s that Week 5 Combo, in case you’re interested. Pretty slick!



  1. I tore one of my rhomboids from kicking into inverts when I first started inverting, and had to take a whole month off to heal, so I am very much in the no-kicking camp. I think that there are so many spins, climbs, and upright poses (not to mention spin pole!) that can be used to build strength for inverts, and that are both fun, pretty, and impressive, that there’s no point in rushing 🙂

  2. Hmmm…. maybe sort of a controlled kick? My gut instinct is no, but I’m learning handstands by kicking into them, so I’m not really sure how that’s different. And being able to do the full range of motion I feel would help you develop the muscles… but it would still need to be somewhat controlled. When I kick into my handstand against the wall, I kick with exactly enough force to tap (not clomp) my feet against the wall. So I guess my answer is kicking might be OK, but only if you are strong enough to do so in a semi-controlled manner.

  3. I am all for swinging the outside leg to get momentum. For me it conserves energy that I’m gonna need when I’m up there upside down. But if your kick makes you jump into an invert that’s bad because you will be banging your ribs against the pole. Controlled momentum is key. I like the handstand parallel. I just can’t dead lift into a handstand yet, so I’m kicking up and trying to control the descend so I build those muscles. I don’t assign any moral values to making your pole dancing life easier by thinking of it as ‘cheating’.

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