No matter how strong you are, I can confidently assume you don’t think your current level in the front lever is strong enough.
This post isn’t going to go into the hows and whys of front lever training. I’ve already gone in depth many times on that subject (read these: What YOU NEED To Know About The Front Lever, Tips For Faster Gains With Front Levers, Back Levers, Planches & Human Flags), instead we will look at a simple way to cover more bases when it comes to either working on, or holding, the front lever (at any given level).
And the magic tip is to simply vary how you enter the front lever position.
Here’s a scenario for you: imagine I ask you to go for your strongest/best front lever hold……..would you use only one way of getting into the lever?
You may or may not have even considered it but it’s all too common to have a preferred method of entry. Sometimes the difference of strength between different entry methods can be huge! By varying the entry you not only expose weaknesses but also address them too.
Prepare to be humbled but accept the humbling. You may have to use a slightly lower level but it won’t take long to pay off; you’ll soon be stronger than you are now at the front lever.
The comprehensive list of front lever entry methods……
1) Lower to it.
Traditionally considered the easiest method and commonly used due to the effectiveness of full range eccentric lowering. Pull to an inverted hang and assume the body position that suits your level. Keeping body tension and the perfect body line, lower until you’re horizontal.
2) Pull to it.
Theoretically harder than number one as you’re working against gravity here. Keep your arms straight and hang passively. Assume the appropriate body position/lever level and drive your hands towards your hips, stopping when your body is horizontal.
3) Step into it.
My favourite method. Use a bar or rings that are around chest height. Take your grip and lean back, bringing your feet off the floor and contracting your back muscles maximally to hold the lever position . This allows you to start with bent arm tension and straighten out once in position.
4) ‘Muscle down’ to it.
As the name suggests, you do the negative portion of a muscle up (again, either on rings or bar) and straighten out to the hold. Once more, this method allows a bent arm starting position which is easier in my opinion.
5) ‘Untuck’ to it.
Perhaps the coolest looking entry covered thus far, the untuck involves finding a tucked front lever position and then straightening the body out from there. This variation is harder than most of the previous ones. And it’s worth noting you don’t have to untuck all the way to full lever, you can untuck to advanced tuck or even straddle etc..
6) ‘Crank’ to it.
Definitely the hardest entry out there, the crank involves pulling to the lever level from a hanging L-Sit. Keep the arms straight and push the hips up.
7) Lower from a pull up (aka ‘Ice cream maker’ to it).
Another very popular method, the ice cream maker allows you to pull up with bent arms, set the tension and lower to the lever level. The critical thing here is use as much control as you can, as it’s easy to swing too much.
(Note: all entries are shown in the full version but every variation covered can be used at any lever level).
Now you may be asking what to do if you don’t train the front lever statically and instead do dynamic work, like I endorse? The answer is simple: begin your sets with a chosen (new) entry point first and then continue with your dynamic drills.
Give this a try. It may sound too simple but haven’t we seen thousands of times before that the simplest things are often most overlooked and yet, most effective?
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