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Coach Sommer

Russian Leg Lifts

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Coach Sommer

208gsUy9S-c

Russian Leg Lifts are a rather challenging (to say the least!) exercise that I learned from my friend Edward Azarian (yes, that Azarian) who was a member of the Soviet World Championship Team in the late 1970s. Since that time, they have become a staple in my athlete's conditioning program, where they are done at least once per week. Russian Leg Lifts are generally performed on a stall bar and contain elements of a hanging leg lift, crank and negative front lever all within one element.

If you do not have access to a stall bar, do not despair. Russian Leg Lifts may also be performed on a single bar, as long as you have a training partner to press your shoulders forward and immobilize your upper body as demonstrated below:

Somm1.jpg

In fact most people will find this option much more comfortable as it allows the head more freedom of movement to the rear during the extension into front lever than the stall bars permit. Please note however, that in either case, this extended position is much more difficult than a regular front lever due to the shoulders remaining either under or slightly forward of the hands.

To perform a Russian Leg Lift:

1) Begin from a hanging support.

2) Lift the feet upward as in a regular hanging leg lift.

3) Once the feet arrive at the top of the motion, begin to extend them outward. Your goal is to continue extending the entire body until the hips are completely flat and open. If all has proceeded perfectly, this front lever position will occur when the body reaches a horizontal position. In reality, despite your very best efforts, for most people this extension will occur below horizontal and will usually still have a degree closure present within the hips.

russian%20leg%20lift.jpg

Despite being rather annoying, this lack of complete extension is natural and quite acceptable. In time, as both your strength and flexibility continue to improve, your straight body extension will occur at a higher position.

4) Upon reaching the current limit of your ability to extend out into the front lever, perform a controlled descent back to a hanging support.

5) Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Options for Progressively Developing Russian Leg Lifts

To progressively ease into the challenge of Russian Leg Lifts, the descent may also be performed in a tuck, flat tuck, straddle or half lay in addition to the layout or straight body demonstrated in the video clip below. You may also want to consider using the same position during the ascent as well.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Edward Smith

Wow, what an awesome exercise! You put them in once a week (at least) but do you think these could replace regular hanging leg raises?

Thanks Coach,

Ed

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Coach Sommer

These are one of the more challenging hanging leg lift variations that my athlete's progress on to once they have mastered regular hanging leg lifts.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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shiftedShapes

thanks, great tips as always.

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Harout Aintablian

Thanks alot...I am still on planche training...I know am going very slow...but you are keeping all of us motivated :)

I had thyroidectomy last month...thats why didn't do any exercise at all, now am starting to resume back .

Wish you all nice weekend :)

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Coach Sommer

Dr. Harout,

My best wishes for a speedy and full recovery.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Blairbob

Interesting, I have done the hang leg lift to bar, extend to candle, but never thought about levering down. Quite often Elites, will simply do a momentary lever though the position in a glide kip if they catch a release poorly.

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Harout Aintablian
Dr. Harout,

My best wishes for a speedy and full recovery.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

Thank you very much

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Guest cccp21
208gsUy9S-c

Russian Leg Lifts are a rather challenging (to say the least!) exercise that I learned from my friend Edward Azarian (yes, that Azarian) who was a member of the Soviet World Championship Team in the late 1970s. Since that time, they have become a staple in my athlete's conditioning program, where they are done at least once per week. Russian Leg Lifts are generally performed on a stall bar and contain elements of a hanging leg lift, crank and negative front lever all within one element.

If you do not have access to a stall bar, do not despair. Russian Leg Lifts may also be performed on a single bar, as long as you have a training partner to press your shoulders forward and immobilize your upper body as demonstrated below:

Somm1.jpg

In fact most people will find this option much more comfortable as it allows the head more freedom of movement to the rear during the extension into front lever than the stall bars permit. Please note however, that in either case, this extended position is much more difficult than a regular front lever due to the shoulders remaining either under or slightly forward of the hands.

To perform a Russian Leg Lift:

1) Begin from a hanging support.

2) Lift the feet upward as in a regular hanging leg lift.

3) Once the feet arrive at the top of the motion, begin to extend them outward. Your goal is to continue extending the entire body until the hips are completely flat and open. If all has proceeded perfectly, this front lever position will occur when the body reaches a horizontal position. In reality, despite your very best efforts, for most people this extension will occur below horizontal and will usually still have a degree closure present within the hips.

russian%20leg%20lift.jpg

Despite being rather annoying, this lack of complete extension is natural and quite acceptable. In time, as both your strength and flexibility continue to improve, your straight body extension will occur at a higher position.

4) Upon reaching the current limit of your ability to extend out into the front lever, perform a controlled descent back to a hanging support.

5) Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Options for Progressively Developing Russian Leg Lifts

To progressively ease into the challenge of Russian Leg Lifts, the descent may also be performed in a tuck, flat tuck, straddle or half lay in addition to the layout or straight body demonstrated in the video clip below. You may also want to consider using the same position during the ascent as well.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

************* what about progressing from an incline bench?

Brandon Green

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Joshua Naterman

It will hurt your neck. I can promise you that from experience! If you have a stall rack like in the video and you put a bench up against THAT, attached by hooks or some such,then it might be effective. Your best bet for this is hanging leg lifts. Check the HLL progressions in the core section of the book. That will get you well on track, but it will also help you to do incline situps, progressing to inverted situps.

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Justin Kyle

Coach, you said you started including this exercise in your athletes workouts once they mastered leg lifts. What constitutes as mastering leg lifts? Like how many repetitions would be considered mastery? Thanks so much

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irongymnast

10 consecutive full ROM leg raises?

I can do 8 consecutive leg raises but I can't do a single RLL. :(

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Richard Duelley

Does anyone thing you can do these by just hanging from a single bar, ie with nothing touching your back? I guess it would turn into a full out front lever as you went down and you would press up into a full inverted hang on the bar. . . I might just give it a shot come Monday.

I would say mastering hanging leg lifts means 5 sets of 5 with a decent amount of weight added to your lifts, like 10-15 pounds. By the way I have no expertise in this whatsoever but thats what I think off the top of my head.

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Blairbob

On a regular high bar without a set of stall bars, it is only important that you try not to recruit your lats and compromise your shoulder angle as you HLL to candle. Lowering down the shoulder angle would break as you would pass through a FL.

Correctly done, it would be harder. You could also have a spotter push against your back when doing them.

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Joshua Naterman

I can do these fairly easily now, and can hold the front lever part for just about as long as I want. I've done 15 seconds and it wasn't a challenge. I really like them as an exercise! I don't try them right now because I'm afraid of inflaming my shoulder before it's sufficiently healed :P I'm just doing lots of band work, and once a week I'll do upper body strength to try and maintain what I've got.

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Sternford

At the gym I'd been doing a few leg lifts once and a while and just kind of naturally moved to extending at the top and pushing out like this. Now that I know it's a real thing maybe I'll focus more on it

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Blairbob

There is that point, Lizard. A lot of stall bar work can severely tax my shoulders. I've seen this happen with other gymnasts with tight shoulders. Of course, I think this is also because whoever made our stall bars made the top further behind the other bars instead of forward. Retarded.

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Joshua Naterman

HAHAHAHA!!! Ah, that's terrible. My set up is good, I'm just suffering from old injuries. I blame T. Hawk! ... and perhaps my own lack of self-control. It is very frustrating for this to be happening, but I am hoping that a couple of months with serious rehab efforts will allow me to start building strength once again. My body wants to get so much stronger, but these injuries hold me back.

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Neal Winkler

I just noticed that these aren't included in the book.

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Gym777

Is it safe to do this exercise with weights on ankles?

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