What is true strength?

Is it the ability to push an airplane down a runway or to lift the biggest tires overhead, or is it something you might not expect? Pound for pound, [tweet_box design=”box_08″]gymnasts are the strongest athletes in the world with the ability to leverage their own bodyweight with completely straight arms. [/tweet_box]These skills are referred to as levers for that reason. Levers are not mere feats of strength, but of skill, balance, control and dedication as well. Training to develop levers benefits both the body and the mind in a way that lifting weights in a commercial gym can never compare to. The isometric nature of levers means that training this way puts a lot of strain on your tendons and in turn strengthens them to unheard of levels. They also build immense amounts of strength in the torso musculature.

[tweet_box design=”box_08″]In your mind you must remain focused, almost meditative while performing levers in order to be truly in touch with your body.[/tweet_box] This kind of deep connection will allow you to focus on form and creates a sense for the limits of your own body, telling you when to stop or when to keep holding for just a few more seconds. While developing this mind-body link you will notice your strength and power in all aspects of fitness increase before your very eyes. I invite you to follow us through this levers series which will include pictures and videos in order to see for yourself what “true” strength really means.

Below is a brief outline of how the series will play out. Every week a new article will be posted concerning a different lever with the basics and fundamentals of the skill as well as progressions with detailed images and videos if necessary. By following us on our journey into the world of straight arm bodyweight strength, you will gain a deeper understanding of your own body while watching it grow in strength and flexibility and noticing improvements in your physique. Training these skills with help from our instruction will ensure that your training remains safe and beneficial and does not strain your body more than it can handle. I hope you are ready!

Week 1: LSit, VSit and Hamstring Mobility

-Front Support Hold

-Support Knee Raises and Tuck LSit

-Single Leg LSit

-Support Straight Leg Raises and LSit

-Wide Leg LSit/VSit

-Tuck VSit

-VSit Kicks and VSit

-Hamstring Flexibility and Core/Hip Flexor Conditioning

Week 2: Handstand and Upper Body Mobility

-Straight Arm Plank and Down Dog/Up Dog


-Crow Pose and Frog Pose

-Back to Wall Handstand

-Chest to Wall Handstand and Cast Wall Walks



-Shoulder, Wrist and Thoracic Spine Flexibility

-Handstand Variations

Week 3: Back Lever and Bicep Tendon Conditioning

-German Hang and Skin the Cat

-Tuck BL

-Advanced Tuck BL

-Straddle and Half Lay BL

-Full BL and BL Pulls

-Supination vs Pronation and Bicep Tendon Strength

Week 4: Front Lever

-Active and Dynamic Hanging

-Scapula Pulls

-Tuck FL

-Advanced Tuck FL

-Straddle and Half Lay FL

-Full FL and FL Pulls

-Dragon Flags and Hanging Leg Lifts for Core Strength

Week 5: Planche and Press HS

-Planche Lean and Correct Scapula Action

-Tuck PL

-Advanced Tuck PL

-Straddle and Half Lay PL

-Full PL

-Full HS Press Lifts and Negatives

-Hip Mobility for the HS Press

Week 6: Human Flag and Variations

-Vertical Flag Support

-Inverted Flag Support and the KickUp

-Pull Up Bar Flag and other Scaling Variations

-Straddle Flag

-Full Human Flag and Flag Pulls

-Flag Variations

-Oblique Conditioning

Alex Dutchak is a fitness trainer and athlete currently based out of Fairfax, Virginia. Since finding his passion in fitness, Alex has experimented with gymnastics, distance running, olympic weightlifting, cycling, rock climbing, crossfit, kettlebell training and much more. He will begin his college career at VCU in Richmond in August, 2015 in the pursuit of an exercise science degree. He is certified for personal fitness training by NASM and has a Progressive Calisthenics Certification.
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