The front lever is an fundamental gymnastics strength hold that develops the core and upper-body muscles. Learn how to do the front lever and of the progression exercises path to build up to the full lever hold.
- Primary Muscle: Abdominals
- Secondary Muscle(s): Back
- Difficulty: Advanced
- Optional: Rings, Pull-up Bar
View Front Lever guide
How to do the Front Lever
The front lever is rarely achieved without appropriate strength and gymnastics training. See the progression exercises section below to learn how to build up to the hold.
- Assume an inverted hang position on a pull-up bar or gym rings.
- Lower the body slowly down until completely horizontal (your body facing upwards).
- Maintain the hold as long as good form will allow.
- More advanced athletes can progress into the front lever from a dead hang rather than inverted lowered hang.
- In competitive gymnastics the Front Lever is an A skill (from A - F, A being the easiest) and participants are required to hold the position for a minimum of two seconds.
Front Lever Guide
The front lever is a popular gymnastics hold as it's an impressive display of strength and helps develop a strong core and powerful pulling muscles.
The body positioning for the front lever is outlined in the table below -
Hands Palm of the hands facing downwards. Consciously squeeze the rings or bar and push down throughout the hold to engage the upper body muscles and create tension to sustain the hold. Arms The arms should be around shoulder width apart. Torso Flex the back and chest muscles and maintain strong tension throughout. The midsection should be tight and engaged and shoulders in a natural position. Hips and legs Squeeze the glutes and leg muscles, stretching the body out and pointing the toes to keep the body in a straight line & parallel to the ground. Ensure that you do not bend at the hips which is one of the more difficult parts of the lever.
Front lever progressions
The following progression exercises are recommended for the front lever -
Pullover - at the very basic level, you can build foundation strength using the pullover exercise which hits similar muscles, only under much lower tension levels than a true lever.
- Inverted rows - another basic exercise to help train applicable lever muscles and positioning.
- Weighted pull-ups - are a good build up exercise to the front lever. During each pull-up try to lean back and touch the bar with your chest to help align the progression. Work towards 20% of your bodyweight added.
- Tuck lever - A fundamental hold required prior to attaining the front lever. The tucked version mimics the full lever except the legs are tucked up to the chest (the hips and shoulders remain in horizontal alignment).
- Negative tuck levers - hang upside down from the bar or rings and lower yourself through to the tuck position and try to maintain the hold.
- Tuck lever hold - after training the tuck negatives you should develop the strength to control and stop the hold. Continue training until you can maintain the hold with hips and shoulders in alignment, parallel to the ground for increasing periods of time (aim for 10+ seconds minimum).
- Tuck lever rise - at this point you can stop training the negative lowering into the exercise and train by pulling up into the tuck lever from a vertical position. Ensure shoulders are brought back behind the hands to give you the leverage to lift into the movement.
- Tuck lever pull-ups - pull yourself up to the bar / rings in the tuck position.
- Skin the cat - the natural progression from tuck levers is the strangely titled 'skin the cat' exercise, which sees you pulling the knees up and through the lever position so the body is upside down and moves down to a hanging position.
- Single leg front lever - keep one leg tucked into the chest with the other leg extended out to the full lever position. Alternate legs during the hold.
- Straddle front lever - extend the hips and straddle the legs apart, the wider the legs, the easier the hold.
- Front lever! Congratulations, you're there!
Assisted front lever
If you've worked through the progression exercises and your front lever needs a little fine tuning you can use resistance bands to help support some of your bodyweight to help sustain the hold.
Advanced Front Levers
Congratulations, you've achieved a great feat to master the front lever so here are some ideas on what to consider next -
- Front lever pull-ups - whilst in the horizontal front lever position pull-up to the bar or rings.
- Ice cream maker
- One-arm front lever
Front lever - related exercises
Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise