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Getinthecar

Front lever: Will it ever be possible?

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Getinthecar

Hi I am training my front and back lever for about a year now and progress has sort of stopped.

- I am stuck with a tuck Front lever for more than 6 months now with no progression

- I am about 6 feet which is quite long if you compare it to the gymnastics guys

- I am training my legs so my legs are getting bigger = heavier.

I train my Front and back lever 2x a week along with deadlifts, pull ups, lower back work.

So, Is it realistic for me to think a Front and bakc lever will never be possible for me?

Please don't tell me that anything is possible as long as you work hard, juts be realistic...

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Felipe

0) Rings are tough. If you can't do 6-8 pullups and 4-5 dips I would recomend you to go first in the gym.

1) How much do you weight? If more than 90 kilos, try to lose fat

2) How much do you train, overall? If more than 3, reduce. If less than 3, do more.

3) Is your form good? Film yourself.

4) Try to mantain a position more than 5 sec before going to another one.

5) Do sets of half your max static hold trying to build from 30 to 60 sec total (example your max is 6 sec, do 20 sets of 3 sec.)

6) Put your attention on Back lever, which is easier. Develop it first, mantaining your present strength on FL and not doing more on it.

7) DO DYNAMIC EXERCISES! I found Reverse Cranks invaluable for building the BL.

and FTW, believing in yourself isnt the only thing you need. You will achieve FL and BL, and even Iron Cross if you want (there is a video of someone taller than you doing it), but you need right approach and metod to do things. Follow the coach's book for more infos.

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David Picó García

Yes, but think that if you want to achive the position you have to focus more on it. Two times i think is not enough to see fast results, if you focus on it in two months you have to see how you progress on more advanced progression or time hold. For front lever i recomend that you start your training (every training) with some front lever negatives on rings from hang, the hardest position that you can't mantein but you can almost 'touch it'. Just a few reps every time you go to the rings. That worked great for me and my nephew. He could't hold at all the front lever and the negative was more like a drop. Just doing this one day he just stopped at full front lever (as i said in a two months training period of three times per week). This is just a variation if you have been doing static holds. I achived (or touched) the front lever for one, two or three seconds at my best, but i never consolidated it, as i found that just a few months of rest killed my progress. That's my experience. In two months at starting point of holding 25 seconds of adv. front lever, or 8 seconds of straddle front lever, you can expect to one day just stop for a second when doing the negative. Of course at every negative you have to try to stop at horizontal with all the muscles of your body, and every time the drop will be more controled until the stop arrives at horizontal.

I'm about 5,8 feet (174 cms).

Anyway try to do some front lever pullups and front lever pulls they are all conected in progress terms.

Here you have a video i made

where you can see some front lever pullups variations at the end, and the negative of the front lever (at the end of the basic ring strengh serie) i couldnt hold the front lever, as i never can hold it in a serie as i am tired. That's way i recomend you to do it at first. I found that those negatives kills my strengths in just on or two reps, so you have to put all your effort at first series, and of course after some warm up (i usually do some pullups and band streching at first)

Ah! and take your shoes off!!! At that leverage distance the shoes are just for advanced gymnasts :P

Well thats my opinion founded at my experience (i don't have anyway big legs)

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Rolf Nilsen

I can only speak for myself, but: At 178cm, 37 years old and starting out at 107kgs it have taken a lot of time to advance through the progressions. Unless you have the basic strenght (which I thought I had after 20 yours of working out in different sports involving the upper body and core strength heavily), the front lever is a different game completely. Since I startet out I can now hold the progressions for longer periods and do negatives or even pull up into the positions.

I choose to look at my progress and not focus on the ultimate goal. One day I will do a full front lever, but it is all the small victories on the road to the full lever that makes this worthwhile and fun. Instead of despairing, I would note my personal bests in the different progressions and watch my progress. Since starting out, my progress is very measurable and rewarding. This is what motivates me. Perhaps an idea for you as well?

In addition I now firmly believe rest, periodization and diet are major components of progress. I am down to 95kgs now and aiming for below 90, all thanks to ideas and references on diet and lifestyle found on this forum. My lifestyle is a lot healthier as I have learnt about how the body works and I now take better care of my body.

Huge thanks to Ido for pointing me in the right direction!

In short, it is not all about reaching the ultimate goals in as short a time as possible. Enjoy the journey, see all the other benefits and suddenly one day you have reached the ultimate goal (only to find a new one). Of course you can do a front lever, but it takes time, sweat and the right kind of workout/rest/diet.

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Chris

I myself am 177cm and weigh around 69kgs with quite long limbs and can hold a solid straddle FL, full BL(though I lock me hands against me lats so it's kinda cheating) and perform a straight arm straight body pull from dead hang to inverted hang so by all means it's possible, mixing exercises ( as serotonin said negatives, or dynamic Fl stuff like FL pulls and pulls to FL) is a very good way to progress. Apart from that T2T managed to neatly summarize all the essentials, try to assume that kind of an attitude.

Cheers,

Chris

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gymrob

Are you using a steady state cycle?

Also, you may want to up the weekly frequency of training and use embedded training.

Best of luck,

Rob.

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Razz

Just because you are tall or have a disadvantage does not make it impossible, i doubt the fact that you got stuck on progress is because you reached your genetic max. Check your diet and training methods and change something to make progress once again

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Erik Sjolin

Actually, I have something of a similar problem. I'm six feet six inches tall, and I'm working on progressing from advanced tuck (30 sec) to a harder variation. Problem is, I have poor straddle flexibility, so I just tried lifting my shins to the cieling so there's two 90 degree angles in my legs (hips and body, legs and shins). Not sure where to progress from there though...probably lowering one leg at a time.

Anywhoo, these are just my thoughts on how you can slowly, very gradually progress. Try 'em, don't, but don't stop.

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Blairbob

While John Gill was over 6 foot, he only is listed at 178 pounds. Fairly light. Bill Trumbo is listed as having down a flag at around 225 pounds but I can't remember if it was a weighted flag or flag pullups.

Erik, you are the same height as Jim Holloway.

While somebody could work the straddle lever, you could also use the one leg straight, one leg tucked lever eventually stretching out the tucked leg. For a gymnast, building the requisite flexibility in the hip flexors should be a must but for an enthusiast- :?:

Have you been working weighted pullups at all. It might be good to identify whether it's your pull strength weakness or your core strength. Test. Can you do a body lever at horizontal?

I used to train a teenage kid around 6 foot, +/- a few inches. I don't remember but he was very lightly built and of course had ripped abs. Couldn't hold a damn tuck lever or do V-ups very well though he could MU very easily and poorly at first besides one arm negatives and rope climb like mad.

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Erik Sjolin

I'm only 175 lbs, so I don't think weight is an issue. I tried one leg extended yesterday and managed to do it (though my other knee was tucked up to my chin) with fairly decent form. As far as body levers and weighted pull ups go, I'm at about 35 degree levers, and once tested myself at 45 lbs (one rep max).

It's probably a mixture of pull and core strength that's keeping me back, though. I can't complete a muscle up (unless it's with atrocious form - one arm at a time) and my V-ups are just plain sloppy (though that may be flexibility). I'll definitely try those tests out next time I'm at the gym. Would working on the L-sit help out core strength required for the front lever? I can hold a fairly decent one (with good form) on the ground for about 20 seconds, but from reading the Coach's essays and posts, the two may be contrapositive to each other.

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Guest Ido Portal

Regarding being too heavy for BW oriented stuff, look up these names:

Bert Assirati(266lbs BW, 3 one arm chin ups, above 800lbs deadlift, one arm handstand)

Marvin Edder (body builder, ripped 200lbs BW, 80 correct, clean wide arm chin ups, 500 lbs Bench Press, barbell straight arm pull over with 210 lbs)

Everett Marshall (226 lbs BW, one arm chin up, 28 correct, clean chin ups)

Of course, this was back when men were men and your free testorsterone count was actualy higher than your pants size...

Ido.

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Blairbob

Ido those were on John Gill's site but I was specifically looking for ones who were reported to have executed a flag or front lever.

Not everyone who can do a cross can do a front lever.

Erik, 35 degrees from vertical or horizontal?

I think Steve Low once told me that for a FL, you probably need like a 75% weighted pullup.

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Erik Sjolin

That would be 35 from horizontal. Unfortunately, I had to take a bit of a hiatus from training them because my membership ran out, and everywhere else to train it was either too dirty (outside), too light/fragile (door frames), living (I'd try and use large people's ankles), or some combination. I actually lifted a 250 lb man off the ground doing those that way.

Hopefully, it won't take too long to get to a full body lever.

Also, you can add Jack Lelane to your list, Mr Portal. The guy is in his 90's and still built like a horse.

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Blairbob

Jack Lalane is on the John Gill BW feat site.

Erik, the underside of the side of car could work. A good tree might as well except for the cold. At home, I prefer the underside of a couch. Our patio has these support beams and I often use these at the gym or the support bars of our quad bar or the support base of a balance beam.

I've also used dumbbells to some success and perhaps a heavily loaded barbell would work, especially those funky kind with hex plates.

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Romulo Malta

Serotonin, that gym of yours is so cool! With rings, even climbing ladders/monkey bars, etc. It's a pity that most of the gyms here in Japan are so old fashioned and retrogade, with the basics of basics.

It's difficult to find a good environment to train here, even indoors, since most of the average houses are so fragile that you can't even set a indoor chin-up bar or the door frame would come down! Usually the only alternative is to find the closest tree to hang the rings... :(

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Rolf Nilsen

I think Steve Low once told me that for a FL, you probably need like a 75% weighted pullup.

Mmm. I think doing pull-ups with 72kilos (159lbs) of weight strapped on would make my good old friend tendonitis very happy. :shock: :D

I have not tried but I am pretty sure I am not even close.

I am not certain at all about the mechanics involved in a FL, but is pull-up strength directly transferable to the FL (disregarding the core strength element for the sake of the discussion). It dont feel like that when I work the skill (now at tuck with one leg extended) even if the muscles in the back is working really hard. I did notice I was getting stiff in new and interesting places when I startet out with the FL..

Erik, if you really want to work this and other skills, I am sure you will find a way. I have my set of rings strapped to the underside of a staircase. The height is just 2.40meters, and I can just about work front and back levers without touching the walls. If/when I get there, in 4-5 years, there is even room for more advanced elements.

I dont know your situation, but getting a set of rings you can bring with you to work, school or playgrounds opens a lot of possibilities. If you have your own place it is possible to fix a support structure for the rings to bearing elements in the ceiling. If you think positive and keep your motivation up, everything is possible (or as they drilled into us "nothing is impossible, the impossible just takes more time").

Good discussion this one.

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Blairbob

BW or weight and you can get tendonitis either way. It's just more difficult to come up with a dip or pull progression that equals so much weight. Actually it's harder to compare one to the other.

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Coach Sommer
It's just more difficult to come up with a dip or pull progression that equals so much weight.

Nor is it necessary. Once you have successfully laid a solid foundation of basic strength, it is time to progress onto more advanced ring strength elements to continue building maximal strength.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Blairbob

Coach Sommer, the weighted pullup/dip numbers were merely estimates myself and another colleague were guesstimating at. Jim of Beastskills years ago brought in the concept for working PL/FL and it's just another route.

Honestly, with my boys and myself I don't do go this route. It requires more setup than I have currently and actually recently had to deal with some guff by other coaches when we/me were hanging a contest with weighted pullups. Not that I really cared since none of them were MAG coaches.

Besides, these gymnastics moves are not merely strength oriented as they are skills and need to be trained as such, IMO.

Besides, I have heard of too many people dealing with tendonitis issues concerning heavily weighted movements and that is not something I can condone in my youths or deal with myself or clients. Which is pretty much my stance with too much focused one arm pullup/chin work.

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Rolf Nilsen
It's just more difficult to come up with a dip or pull progression that equals so much weight.

Nor is it necessary. Once you have successfully laid a solid foundation of basic strength, it is time to progress onto more advanced ring strength elements to continue building maximal strength.

To be more precise: Is there a carryover effect to the FL skill from doing weighted pull-ups if lacking base strength?

Would it be "better" to do the programmed 60sec progression exercise and afterwards do 2x3-5 reps of weighted pull-ups.

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Guest Ido Portal

It still amazes me how so many people with a strong interest in gymnastics oriented s&c are not realy shifting their mind set at all and keep on treating this kind of training as the traditional aproach. This is the kind of thinking that has left so many people performing endless sets of push ups and pull ups to find little or no progress with 'pushing the numbers' kind of an aproach.

The knowledge that gymnastics offers in terms of conditioning provides you with escalating progression skills, instead of building up your numbers into stagnation. For me, after a certain ability is achieved with the pull ups, for example, (what the coach calls 'Basic Strength') I would prefer to see the trainee progress to harder skills that involve the same musculature, instead of more pull ups reps or a heavier weight. Of course, a certain progression needs to be fully explored before moving on, I noticed that 15 correct pull ups are all that you need before you better off concentrating your efforts on more advanced skills. The beautiful thing about that aproach is that you will perform 30+ pull ups after a while of training more advanced skills, without any pullup sets performed. (I do not pretend to have the magic number, it varies, there is no rule set in stone here, you have to autoregulate your training or let someone qualified do it for you)

The weighted aproach to body weight conditioning has its value, dont get me wrong, but advancing in skills is a much better option, all in all, in my opinion, when possible.

It will motivate you to train, improve on your prior skills, break through plateus and is as natural as any evolutionary aproach to anything. Evolve or stagnate!

Ido.

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Rolf Nilsen

That is clear enough. Thanks for expanding on the question. :D

Being in a vacuum except for Coach Sommer's book and this forum, it is neccesary to get things cleared up now and then.

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Erik Sjolin

Mr Portal's response really intrigues me. I've been trying to incorporate that mindset into my training (despite some odd looks and comments at my gym), and it completely works. Testing myself on pushup endurance (only doing pseudo planche and wrist pushups for the few months prior), I was able to get 61 proper repetitions done. One question I did have regarding that technique, however was is it a timeframe or a number of repetitions you should work towards before you progress? I've been striving for three sets of five for about a month before I progress, but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Guest Ido Portal

Erik, again, and since I am running out of magic powder:

(I do not pretend to have the magic number, it varies, there is no rule set in stone here, you have to autoregulate your training or let someone qualified do it for you)

That is the million dollar question. As a starting point, for some miometric skills with maximal strength development in mind, it can be a work density of from 10 reps per 35 min up to 25 reps per 20 min. (10 sets of 1 rep with 3 min of rest up to 5 sets of 5 with 3 min of rest)

For example, for the Headstand push up and before broadening the range of motion into the full HSPU, I'd like to first achieve 5 sets of 5 reps with no more than 3 min of rest between sets with my trainees. When I will get that work density, I will go down to 10 sets of 1 rep of the full HSPU and build more density from there.

Again, those are not magic numbers, those are just examples that may vary from person to person and movement to movement.

Ido.

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Joshua Naterman

Ido's right about building a certain amount of work capacity, or density as he puts it, in a certain position before advancing. Why? When you have the ability to do multiple sets of 5 or so reps of headstand pushups, your stabilization muscles and neurological patterns have developed to the point where it is both safe and productive to move to the next progression. That's why in another post I put a fairly detailed plan for developing pullup ability before trying to work weighted pullups. If you can't do 5 sets of 5 pullups with 30 seconds of rest, you haven't developed the grip, scapular and/or bicep/brachialis strength that you need to safely and effectively do good weighted pullups. You'll find that once you reach that point you have the ability to do weighted pullups with at least 30 lbs for at least 4 reps.

Having said that, Ido again makes a good point. In this forum, and certainly in capoeira(which Ido is amazingly good at, check his blog for truly fantastic workouts), most people are concerned with being able to manipulate their bodyweight in progressively harder and cooler positions. One example is the front lever. So that you know, I am 220 lbs and 6'2. I have pictures of me doing a pretty solid front lever off of my uncle's playground in his yard. That's full lay. I can guarantee you that you will be able to do the front lever at your size. Building up to these skills takes a long time, and so does building the strength for heavily weighted pullups, dips, etc.

I know others here might disagree with me, but I do believe from personal experience that the weighted exercises DO help with progress, but you have to do them right, and that means mastering the bodyweight versions first. You need to work on your progressions for the skills AND do the weighted work for the fastest results. Why? Because a lot of the static holds are limited by tendon strength, which takes a long time to build. Because of the angles involved with the positions and how much every degree of extra extention increases the difficulty, it is very hard to work specifically on the muscles that are lacking. That means if you are only using those progressions you are limiting your muscular development. If you train the weighted motions as well as the static progressions, you will develop your muscular strength faster, which will let you perform your static holds at a more difficult progression in less time.

It's like anything else with the body. There's more than one step that you need to take to get maximum results. With mental problems you CAN just take medicine and perhaps be functional, and you CAN just learn to think and act differently, but the fastest and most complete recoveries tend to be with a blend of the approaches. In the same vein, working the muscles with weights as well as with the bodyweight progressions is going to give better results. Just make sure to do the statics with the steady state progression even when your muscles move beyond the static you are at. I personally have muscular strength that exceeds what my tendons and rotators are capable of supporting, particularly in planche. That's why I have tendon issues that are resolving well. I can do flat tuck planches again on the dip bars :)

Learn to do perfect full range dips, learn to do perfect full range pullups, build up to being able to do at least 15-20 perfect dips and at least 5 sets of 5 pullups with 30 seconds rest between sets, which translates to 12-15 perfect pullups in my training experience with various individuals of various sizes. Then start doing them with added weight.

Doing shrugs from all angles will help you with your levers a lot, since they will build strength specifically in the scapular region. Ido has a great video about scapular mobilization which shows some exercises that help build shoulder girdle strength, particularly around the scapula. Bench shrugs, pushup shrugs, standing shrugs, hise shrugs(shrug with a bar on your traps, where you'd put it to do squats), inverted hanging shrugs, front lever shrugs, assisted back lever shrugs, etc. Shrug in every direction you can think of.

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