Are you wondering why it is that you can't yet get that chopper? Frustrated when you see others in your class gliding into it no problem? Have you, like many others, spent hours scaling the internet for that one piece of the puzzle that you're missing that will help you to nail your chopper once and for all?
I'll tell you right now what you need: The strength, and the commitment to train to achieve that strength.
Lets first define what I mean by the chopper as there are many different variations. So in Pole Power terms, the chopper involves a controlled tuck, tilt and straddle V. There should be no kick or swing, momentum is not used in this move. To do this, you will need to stand side on to the pole and bring your hips forwards. You should hold the pole in an invert grip, with your inside hand lower, both hands about shoulder height. If your hands are too high, you will never get your butt over them. The shoulder and back muscles must be engaged at this point, so be sure to lift your chest and avoid rounded shoulders. Squeeze your elbows together and pull down on the pole as hard as you can whilst bringing your knees up to your chest. This is your tuck.
So now for the tilt part. First of all, we must think about head position. I see so many people hoping to execute the tilt with their head still close to the pole. This won't work. You need to take your head and shoulders back away from the pole in order to lift your hips. For the next bit, we are relying on upper body strength to keep holding our weight onto the pole and a lot of core strength to get the hips up high. So, taking your head back and pulling down on the pole with all of your strength, bring your hips right up to the pole, as close as possible. If your hips aren't high enough, you may not be able to hold the position for very long as it will be super taxing on your core.
For the last bit of our chopper, we are using upper body for the hold, and core to keep the hips high and then adding in hamstring and hip flexibility for the straddle (as if the first 2 weren't enough). Keep your chest forwards and still avoid rounding the shoulders, this will protect your shoulders and help to avoid incorrect positioning.
So there you have it, your chopper! Easy huh?! Nooo, not at all, this move, as we can see, involves a lot of strength. So the answer to your question is just that. You will achieve your chopper by building up the required strength to do it. This takes commitment. Obviously everybody is different and has different strength and fitness levels. I am just talking about an average person, from my experience as a Pole Instructor. Now this average person, will not achieve a chopper by just coming to one pole class per week. More frequent conditioning exercises will need to be done in order to obtain the level of strength required for the move.
So what can you do to get stronger? I am going to run through just a few of my favourite exercises that I use for strength and conditioning specifically for the chopper.
Lying flat on your back, bend one knee into your chest and take it slightly to the side. Hugging your knee with both hands, ensuring you keep your butt on the floor, circle the other leg as widely and as low to the floor as possible. Be sure to keep the leg straight.
Do 8 x in each direction before moving to the other side. Repeat x 3
Lying on your back, take your legs out into a straddle and actively push your feet towards the floor, keeping your legs straight. Engage your core and crunch up to reach between your legs. Shoulders should come off the floor.
Do x10. Repeat x3
Lying on your back, slowly raise both legs together until the become level with your hips. Keeping your
legs straight , raise your hips upwards off the floor in order to lift your hips and butt. Then lower slowly and with control to as close to the floor as possible, without touching it.
Do x8. Repeat x3
You will need a pole for this one. Lying on your back, next to the pole, the pole should be under your inside armpit and your hands in an invert grip. Take your outside leg up onto the front of the pole and then the inside leg onto the back (as if going into an invert). Ensure your hips are high and as close to the pole as possible. Bring both feet onto the front of the pole and then slowly take down the inside leg, followed by the outside into a straight leg straddle. Do not allow your hips to drop down and hold.
To make this move harder, crunch up using your core to lift your shoulders off the floor.
Hold for 30 seconds and repeat X3 on each side.
So, achieving this move takes work. Hard flipping work! You should aim to do the conditioning at least 2-3 x per week. How often you do it will determine how quickly you achieve your chopper.