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Front Lever Workout Tutorial & Progressions

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Front Lever Progressions

Front Lever Progression

Ever wonder why gymnasts have such incredible abs? Probably because they do movements like Hanging Leg Raises, L sits and of course Front Levers.

The front lever is the absolute pinnacle of core strength! By building up to the front lever you will acquire an incredibly strong and muscular midsection. In addition you will gain amazing lat strength that will enhance your current shoulder to waist ratio.

I was first introduced to this exercise when I was vacationing in Los Angeles. I made a trip down to Santa Monica Beach one day and started working out with a bunch of extremely fit guys.

Front Lever Progressions and Tutorial

Santa Monica Beach Workout Club with Tony Horton

That’t actually Tony Horton with the ridiculous hat on in the middle. Every sunday he heads down to Santa Monica Beach and does a gymnastics style bodyweight workout with a group of guys. All of whom are very ripped and muscular. I was fortunate enough to workout with that group of guys on a few occasions.

One of the coolest exercises that they were performing was the front lever. It killed me that I couldn’t do it so I made it my goal to build up to this movement. After several months of training I finally nailed the front lever with ease. Below is a video tutorial I made on the front lever.

 

In order to perform the front lever you need to pull your body up till parallel with your lats while keeping your entire body completely straight and rigid. If your abs are not strong enough your hips will break and your body will make a ‘V’. Below is the series of progressions to build the core and lat strength to perform the front lever:

1. Bent Leg Raise to Bar

2. Bent Leg Raise to Bar with Straight Leg Negative

3. Straight Leg Hanging Leg Raises to Bar

4. Straight Leg Hanging Leg Raises Parallel to Bar

5. Lever Pulls

6. Partial Front Levers (go as high as possible)

7. Full Front Levers

Why the emphasis on Hanging Leg Raises?

Hanging leg raises are an incredible exercise to build up to the front lever. This is because in order to perform a hanging leg raise all the way up to the bar you need to pull with your lats. This is the same lat strength you need to pull your body into the front lever. When you can perform 5 straight leg parallel to bar leg raises you will have sufficient lat strength to perform the front lever. The front lever pulls will build the core strength to maintain proper positioning. The combination of front lever pulls and hanging leg raises to the bar are the key to working up to the front lever.

Which Progression to start with? 

Start with the first progression (bent leg raise to bar). Once you can easily perform 5 reps of the exercise move on to the next progression.

How often should I practice the progression?

Practice training for the front lever 2-3x per week. I have had the best success training it 3x per week on non consecutive days.

Sets, Reps, Rest times? 

Perform 3-4 sets of 3-5 reps with 2-3 minutes rest between sets. This is pretty low volume with plenty of rest. This is your best bet for building strength quickly. High reps and short rest periods will offer very little strength benefit and you will make very little progress.

The Front Lever Workout 

(perform 2-3x per week before your cardio or strength workout)

Front Lever Pulls: 3 x 3-5 reps (2-3 minutes rest between sets)

Hanging Leg Raise Variation: 3 x 3-5 reps (2-3 minutes rest between sets)

Workout Notes: 

This is a great workout to simultaneously build up your core and lat strength to accomplish the front lever. You will start with lever pulls (only go up as high as you can while maintaining proper form) and you will finish off with the hanging leg raise progression you are working on. When you have built up to the last hanging leg raise variation than you can perform partial front levers instead of hanging leg raises.

Advanced Front Lever Workout 

(perform 2-3x per week before your cardio or strength workout)

Front Lever Partials: 3 x 3-5 reps (2-3 minutes rest)

Front Lever Pulls: 3 x 3-5 reps (2-3 minutes rest)

Workout Notes:

For the partial front levers you will perform a front lever as high as you can while maintaining strict form. Overtime you will be able to lift your body higher and higher. The key is to push your hips forward to ensure proper form. If your hips dip back than you are cheating. Only perform 3-5 reps per set. If your form starts to decline after 3 reps than stop.

 

Greg O'Gallagher

Greg O'Gallagher is the founder of Kinobody, a site dedicated to helping men and women achieve the lean, muscular, and aesthetic "Hollywood" physique. His fitness programs have helped hundreds of thousands of people transform their bodies and change their lives in the process.

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