Everybody who is into calisthenics has either tried to hold a front lever or saw someone else do it. People who can hold this move and other difficult skills get a lot of attention on social media. Some people even think these kinds of videos are fake. To maintain this skill, you need to have insane strength and a lot of experience in bodyweight training. It will probably take some time before you mastered this exercise.
In this post, I will cover some exercises that will boost your front lever progress. If you put in the work and dedication, you will achieve this move in no time.
Understanding the front lever
The front lever is an advanced static move in which you hang in a straight horizontal line. Holding this position is very tough and requires you to have a lot of strength in your upper back, lats, and core muscles. Building enough strength to be able to hold this static position will take a lot of time and hours of training. It took me about six months of training before I could hold a solid straight line. This is how long most people will need before reaching this move.
However, doing the following exercises can definitely help you to achieve this move faster.
Implement the next couple of exercises in your workout to progress as fast as possible to the full variation of this hard move.
Holding the hardest progression, you can hold
The first exercise of this list is the most straightforward. Hold the hardest variation you can hold for as long as possible. This may be the advanced tuck front lever or the straddle variant. This exercise is a great way to see if you are actually progressing. It is important to give full effort when practicing these holds. Therefore I suggest you perform them at the start of your training right after your warm-up.
The next exercise is the negative. To do this exercise, you need to do the following. Grap the bar with your hands and lift your entire body in a straight line with your feet facing the ceiling. From out of this position, you lower yourself down really slowly into a front lever position. Doing the negative of this move makes it a whole lot easier to hold yourself in a straight line parallel to the ground.
Front lever raises
A little bit harder exercise than the negatives are the front lever raises. In this exercise, you basically do the exact same movement as the negative. However, instead of lowering yourself down until you reach the correct position and stay, you lift yourself back up to the starting position. This exercise can be done with easier progressions like the straddle variant. This is because performing this exercise in the full variant can be really tough. This dynamic exercise can be a real challenge for your lat and abdominal muscles. Definitely a good one!
Tuck front lever pull-ups
This exercise is very straightforward. A pull-up while in a tuck front lever position. It will build the needed upper body strength. Which is required for holding a straight and solid horizontal line.
A technique I often used back in the day. When I was still learning this move. I implemented resistance bands in my training. There are countless different ways to apply these bands. You can implement these bands when exercising front lever raises or pull-ups. If you still find those exercises difficult. Resistance bands support your body, which makes it also possible to practice harder progressions. From time to time, keep decreasing the resistance of the band, till eventually, you can do it without any.
The muscles involved in this hanging skill are mostly upper back muscles. The best exercises to build strong upper back muscles are pull-ups, especially with weighted pull-ups. Get stronger on your pull-ups, and you will see your front lever gains improving. The more pull-ups you can perform, the better.
Other vital muscles used in this skill are the core section of your body. These are the muscles that will make the line straight. Have a weak core, and you will never be able to hold a clean-looking front lever. That is why I suggest you exercise besides the front lever workouts of your core frequently. Challenge yourself with challenging core exercises such as dragon flags. These will surely build the strong core section you need for this horizontal move.
Tips and tricks
Frequency, as I said before, achieving the front lever takes a lot of time and effort. You have to put in the work and train with dedication. The front lever is a heavy and energy-taking move. That is why taking enough rest is just as important as the training itself. I suggest you train this move three times a week. This way, you do not practice it too little, but you still get enough rest.
Avoid the one-legged variant. Many youtube tutorials tell you to perform the one-legged front lever as a progression before the full front lever. However, the one-legged front lever is useless. The one leg you completely tuck in will help maintain your hips to stay in that horizontal position easier. It is like a counter-balance. This way, you engage different muscles, which makes them useless.
Work on not only static holds but also dynamics. Many people make the mistake to practice only attempts of this skill as they get closer to achieving a solid full variant. This style of training does work, but it is not the most effective way. It only works if you can hold it for more than 10 seconds. That is why I recommend you implement a couple of the above-mentioned dynamic front lever exercises. Exercises such as tuck front lever pull-ups and raises will help you develop more and faster enough strength to hold yourself up in a straight horizontal line eventually!