Strength & Conditioning

6 Beginners Tips To Master Front Lever Exercises

front lever exercises

Performing the front lever exercise is no easy task.  It requires significant strength and skill but once you’ve progressed to performing this move with good form, you’ll build a huge amount of strength to your core, upper back, arms and shoulders.  

Getting to that point though can take a bit of time.  You’ll need to perform a range of exercises specifically to work the muscles required to execute the front lever exercise.  

In this article, we’ll look at some of the best front lever progression exercises you can focus on helping you to master this movement. 

What Is The Front Lever Exercise?

The front lever exercise is a calisthenics movement   It’s a bodyweight exercise that works muscle groups across the entire body and can be performed either as a static hold or dynamically for repetitions.  During a static hold you would simply adopt the position and maintain this for as long as possible.  Conversely, when performed for repetitions, you can begin in the front lever position before lowering your body back down and then repeating.  

6 Front Lever Exercises For Beginners

Before attempting the front lever hold, you’ll want to concentrate on getting your body strong enough so that you can perform them with ease.  Below we suggest some exercises that you can include as part of your front lever training.  Undertaking these on a regular basis will allow you to gradually ease your way to performing a full front lever exercise.  

Pull Ups

Pull ups, sometimes called chin ups, will work the upper back muscles, lats and biceps.  How you grip the bar during this exercise will determine primary muscle activation.  

The wider your grip, the more you’ll work your upper back.  You should be able to perform at least 10 repetitions with correct form before moving on to the next exercise.

How To Perform A Pull Up:

  1. Take hold of the pull-up bar with hands pronated and grip wider than your shoulders. 
  2. Raise your feet up and cross them at the ankles, this will help with balance. 
  3. From this hanging position, bend the elbows and pull yourself up towards the bar. 
  4. Aim to get your chin to the height of the bar.  
  5. Repeat 10 times.  

L Sit

The L sit is an isometric body weight movement that specifically works the abs helping to build core strength.  If you find the plank exercise easy to perform, the L sit is a good progression exercise.  

The best way of performing this exercise is to make use of push up bars, sometimes called parallettes, as they can keep your wrists in a neutral position and alleviate pressure to the joints.  You need to work up to holding this position for at least 10 seconds.

How To Perform An L Sit:

  1. Take a seat on the ground and extend both legs out in front of you.  
  2. Place your hands on the ground or take hold of your push up bars. 
  3. If on the ground, ensure your palms are flat and twisted out so your wrists are positioned inwards. 
  4. Keeping your elbows locked out, push through your shoulders to raise your whole body off the ground. 
  5. Your hips should be directly beneath your shoulders. 
  6. Maintain this position for as long as possible.  

Hanging Leg Raises

Sometimes called the hanging leg lift, leg raises are a great way to target the abdominals and hip flexors.  It’s also a good way of improving grip strength meaning it has excellent carry over to the front lever movement.

There are two ways of performing this exercise, either bending both the hip and knee joints, which is the easier variation.  Or you can bend at just the hips and keep your legs straight with just a slight bend to the knees.  If it’s easier you can begin the exercise by using a step-up platform to get into the correct position.  

How To Perform A Hanging Leg Raise:

  1. Start by taking hold of the pull up bars with a pronated grip keeping your hands around shoulder width apart. 
  2. You should now be hanging from the bar with both legs and arms straight. 
  3. Use your abs to raise your lower body until your legs are parallel to the floor.  
  4. Hold this for around 1 to 2 seconds before lowering back down and repeating.  
  5. Perform at least 10 repetitions.  

Progression Exercises for the Front Lever

When regularly performing the above exercises, you’ll quickly build the upper body strength needed to move on to front lever progressions.  The below movements are a step-by-step breakdown where you can work you towards performing the full exercise.

Toes to Bar

The toes to bar exercise is similar to the hanging leg raise but with more movement involved. This exercise will target the shoulders, abs, rhomboids, and arm muscles.  Ensure you complete the exercise with a full range of motion to achieve the most benefit.  

How To perform The Toes To Bar Exercise:

  1. Begin in the same position as the leg raise exercise, holding your own bodyweight with hands shoulder-width apart.  
  2. From this dead hang position engage your core muscles and raise your legs up until your toes touch the bar.  
  3. Retract your scapula as you raise your legs.  
  4. Be sure to keep your legs straight throughout with a just slight bend to the knees and don’t use any momentum.  
  5. Maintain control during the descent before repeating.  
  6. Complete 10 repetitions in total. 

Tuck Front Lever Hold

The tuck front lever hold is a great exercise for working all muscles of the upper body. It requires a very strong core and good body control to maintain the position.  Don’t underestimate the difficulty of this exercise, it’s hard work and requires a significant amount of practice.   

How To Perform A Tuck Front Lever Hold:

  1. Start by grabbing hold of the pull up bars with a pronated grip. 
  2. From here, raise your knee as high as possible whilst rotating your body upwards. 
  3. At the top of the movement, your knees should be tucked into your chest with you back parallel to the floor and straight arms. 
  4. Hold this position for as long as possible, and at least 15 seconds, before using control to lower back down.

Upside Down Deadlifts

The upside-down deadlift will activate all muscles of the upper body including the abs and the lower back.  You can perform this exercise on a power rack using pull bars or using gymnastics rings.  Keep in mind that using gymnastic rings will require much more stability.  

How To Perform Upside Down Deadlifts:

  1. Take hold of the pull up bars keeping your hands in a pronated grip position. 
  2. Start as though performing the toes to bar exercise and raise your lower body up by hinging at the hips until your toes reach the bar. 
  3. Engage your core and glutes whilst pushing your hips and legs up towards the ceiling.  Your body should now be in a straight line. 
  4. Pause very briefly then lead with your hips to lower back down until your toes reach the top of the bar. 
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for 10 reps.  


By incorporating the above exercises into your training routine can help you develop the strength and technique required in order to perform the front lever. Remember that the front lever is an advanced exercise that requires time, patience, and consistent practice.

Once you’ve mastered this full body exercise, your back and core strength will have increased significantly along with overall muscular endurance, better body control and functional mobility.   

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