Front Lever Progression: Strength-Building Exercises & Variations

The front lever is a challenging yet impressive calisthenics move that requires a combination of strength, balance, and control. It involves holding your body parallel to the ground while hanging from a bar or rings, with your arms fully extended and your body straight. This move is not only a great way to show off your strength, but it also has many benefits for your overall fitness. In this guide, we will break down the steps to mastering the front lever.

Understanding the Front Lever

Before attempting the front lever, it’s important to understand the mechanics of the move. The front lever primarily targets your back muscles, specifically your lats, but also engages your core, shoulders, and arms. It requires a strong grip and a solid foundation of upper body strength. It’s important to note that this move takes time and practice to master, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right away.

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

Building Strength

 

The key to mastering the front lever is building strength in the muscles needed to hold the position. This includes your back, core, and arms. Exercises such as pull-ups, rows, and planks are great for building the necessary strength. It’s also important to work on your grip strength, as this will help you hold onto the bar or rings for an extended period of time.

Progressions

There are several progressions you can use to work your way up to a full front lever. These include tuck front levers, advanced tuck front levers, and straddle front levers. These variations allow you to gradually increase the difficulty of the move as you build strength and control. It’s important to master each progression before moving on to the next one.

Technique

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

Proper technique is crucial for successfully holding a front lever. Start by hanging from a bar or rings with your arms fully extended and your body straight. Engage your core and pull your shoulder blades down and back. Slowly lift your legs up, keeping them straight and parallel to the ground. Focus on keeping your body tight and your arms locked out. It may take some time to find the right balance and control, so be patient and keep practicing.

Muscles involved in Front Lever

Dorsal. The muscle most often involved along with those of the following point.
Middle Zone or Core
Posterior Deltoid.
Triceps.

Front Lever Progression: Variations & Exercises

1. Hollow Body Hold

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

The first thing we need to work on to achieve the front lever is the core and leg tensing posture. Although it is true that the arms play a very important role in this exercise, it is important that we have the necessary strength in all the muscles that make up the core and legs to maintain the straight position that makes this movement so attractive.

In order to successfully perform the front lever, our focus should be on perfecting the posture that involves tensing our core and leg muscles. While the arms do play a crucial role, having strong muscles in the core and legs is essential for maintaining the straight position that makes this exercise impressive.

For this, it will be very useful to practice maintaining this position on the floor, with legs and arms elevated, while activating the core (hollow body hold) as much as possible

2. Dragon Flag

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

The Dragon Flag is an essential exercise for building core strength throughout the preparation of your front lever, if the Hollow Body Stay is not a challenge for you at this point, the Dragon Flag is the exercise that will give you the strength for your body to achieve the required stability.

For this reason, the Dragon Flag is not recommended as a progression, but as a complementary exercise that should be present in your routines as you build strength in your shoulders and back.

3. Scapular Lunges

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

This exercise will help you maintain tension in the upper back by activating the shoulder blades, this movement is essential to lift the torso, which in the initial stages will be with the legs bent.

This movement has a very short range of motion, to do it you have to start hanging from a bar, through the depression and subsequent retraction of the shoulder blades try to send the abdomen forward while keeping the body upright.

4. Raises

This exercise consists of going directly into the front lever position without going through the previous progressions. Once you’ve done that, lower yourself back down until you’re hanging from the bar. This counts as one rep. This requires a lot of work on your core and lats. You can do 3 to 6 sets of 3 to 5 reps (always with perfect technique).

5. Negative

You could say that this exercise is the opposite of the previous one. You have to do negative sets with the front lever. As with any other exercise, and especially with negative sets, remember that it is important to control the descent. I recommend starting with 3 to 5 sets of 1 to 4 repetitions. A full written explanation of the exercise would be a bit cumbersome, so let’s just watch the video:

6. Ice Cream Makers

A very good exercise for advanced practitioners to continue to build strength and/or strengthen our front lever. It is important to keep the body upright at all times for perfect technique. Let’s watch the video:

Front Lever Progressions

Here is my video on the classic front lever progressions along with my personal secret at the end of the video:

1. Tuck Lever with Elastic Band

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

In the picture you can see the position of the band on your feet, both in the tuck and in the normal front lever, although I recommend that you put the band on your back, this way you do not change the direction of the force that you have to do, since the band is under your center of mass, allowing a more natural position, which is important when you try to leave the band.

2. Tuck Lever

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

Once you can hold the previous exercise for at least 30 seconds, you can leave the rubber band and do the Tuck Front Lever without assistance, just remember to keep your knees close to your chest while keeping your back horizontal.

If you are having trouble doing this, remember that your hands should not be exactly on your shoulders when you hold the position, but more like on your hips. In addition to holding the position, you can start by doing a few Tuck Lever Pull Ups, pulling yourself up to a horizontal back position, immediately lowering, and repeating.

3. Advanced Tuck Lever with Elastic Band

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

Once you are able to maintain the above progression, it is time to move on to the Advanced Tuck Lever. You should try to straighten your back so that it is parallel to the floor while keeping your knees away from your chest.

The weight distribution will change and the difficulty of the exercise will inevitably increase. Continue with this progression until you can perform sets of 15 to 20 seconds. For this reason, it is recommended that you train parallel and complementary exercises such as plank, dragon flags, knee raises, leg raises, etc.

4. Advanced Tuck Lever

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

Next, do this progression without the rubber band. Remember to slowly move your knees away from your chest while keeping your back as straight as possible.

5. One Leg with Elastic Band

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

The next progression is the Single Leg Front Lever. From the Tuck Lever position, extend one leg while keeping the other leg bent and elevated in the Tuck position. Your entire body should be parallel to the floor while performing this exercise.

You are ready to move on to the final step when you can hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds. Avoid hunching at the waist, as this can lead to lower back pain. If you are unable to keep your body straight, go back to practicing the previous progression.

6. One Leg Front Negatives

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

In this movement we will get closer to the final position of the front lever, but of course we have to do it gradually. To start this exercise hanging from the bar, you will raise your legs until they are in a vertical position as well as your torso, now bend one leg and start to lower it in the most controlled way possible, keeping your legs straight in relation to your torso.

With this movement you will increase your strength before being able to do the sustained position with one leg, that’s why it is important to lower slowly when you realize you can do it so slowly that you can keep your body horizontal with the bent leg for a few seconds.

7. One Leg Front

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

This is one of the last progressions to reach our goal, it is basically to maintain the position of the front lever to one leg that we did in eccentric movement in the previous exercise. Remember that the straight leg must be in a straight line with the torso, as it is a common mistake to lower the hips in a “V” shape instead of in a straight line.

8. Straddle  Lever

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

At this point you are very close to doing the full Front Lever, the only help you will have is to place your center of mass a little higher on your body and a little less torque (leverage) from your legs. This can only be achieved by opening your legs, for this it is important to have good flexibility, the more you can open your legs the easier the exercise will be.

9. with Elastic Band

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

Your body will get used to the position, although you will still need some strength to hold it, to work on the strength while holding the position an elastic band is a great help. Although you may have seen some people with the band on the tip of their toes, this not only helps you go up, but it also changes the direction in which you are doing the strength, so I suggest putting the band on your lower back, just below where your hands will be.

10. Repeats and Holds

FRONT LEVER variations and progressions

The final touches to perfect your front lever progression, if you can already hold the position even for a few seconds, you can practice doing repetitions, that is, hanging from the bar, with your torso and legs rigid, perform the flexion until you are in the Front Lever, then lower as controlled as possible, trying each time to hold the horizontal position longer, until your Front Lever is ready and you can boast your new movement.

Front Lever Progression Exercises

Here are some short routines that focus on the muscles that work the most when performing the front lever. It is not necessary to do only one routine, if you are strong enough you can alternate between the different suggestions or even combine them. Use the number of sets and repetitions as a reference to create your own routines.

LEVEL 1

Pull-ups – 4 x 10
L-Sit Leg Raises – 4 x 10
L-Sit Hold – 4 x 10″.

LEVEL 2

Knee leg lifts – 4 x 8
L-Sit hold – 4 x 15 to 20″.
Front Lever – 4 x 10

LEVEL 3

Front lever to one leg (interleave legs) – 4 x 5 (each leg).
Front Lever Pulls – 4 x 5

LEVEL 4

Half front lever or straddle front lever – 4 x 5 to 10″.
Front lever deadlifts – 4 x 5

LEVEL 5

Front lever lifts – 4 x 3 (with pause in Front position).
Front Lifts (up to touch the bar) + Negative – 3 x 3

Front Lever Progression Variations

1. Closed grip on parallel bars

2.  360°

3.  con Agarre Supino

4. X-Grip

5. L-sit

6. Forearms Lever

7. Front Walk

8. 2 Fingers

9. Lever to Muscle Up

10. One Arm Front

Common Mistakes

There are a few common mistakes that can hinder your progress with the front lever. These include not engaging your core, not keeping your arms locked out, and not maintaining a straight body position. It’s important to focus on these key elements and make adjustments as needed to ensure proper form.

Safety Precautions

As with any exercise, it’s important to prioritize safety when attempting the front lever. Make sure you have a strong grip on the bar or rings and that you are not fatigued before attempting the move. It’s also a good idea to have a spotter or use a resistance band for added support.

By following these steps and practicing consistently, you can master the front lever and impress your friends and gym buddies. Remember to always prioritize safety and listen to your body. With dedication and hard work, you’ll be holding a perfect front lever in no time. Have you tried the front lever before? Let us know in the comments how it went for you!

Keep reading: A Strongman vs Bodybuilding – Who Will be Stronger

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