Levers are king in the world of men’s gymnastics. Athletes spend years refining their technique and bolstering the strength of their upper bodies to inhuman levels to perform feats of strength that appear to completely defy the laws of gravity.

Pound for pound gymnasts are the strongest athletes in the world with the ability to leverage their own body weight with completely straight arms. 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 develops abilities and skills you will never come even close to with any other type of training. The isometric nature of levers means that training this way puts strain on your tendons and in turn strengthens them to unheard of levels. They also build immense amounts of strength in the torso musculature. And these are just a few from tons of benefits. I strongly encourage you to explore what levers can do for you and build strength you never thought of

What makes all this training worth it?

Why are levers such a key ability in the gymnast’s skill set?

How can a calisthenics athlete or even an average person benefit from straight arm strength training?

Let’s take a look.


Back levers

Source: Gymnasticswod

1. Builds a bulletproof rotator cuff

Leveraging your body with straight arms utilizes the shoulder muscles to a large degree. Your body will recruit the smaller stabilizing muscles in the shoulder girdle in order to keep the scapula in the proper position to facilitate the movement. Any bending of the arms in a lever movement will transfer some portion of the load to the upper arm muscles therefore decreasing the work the shoulders are required to perform. This kind of strength training will transform your shoulders into a solid rack upon which weight can safely be borne, whether it be internal or external.

2. Strengthens the back and core, enhancing midline stability

You will build exceptional strength in the back muscles such as the lats, rhomboids and spinal erectors, as well as in your abdomen. All of these muscles working together support your spine and maintain posture. This effect has a tremendous carryover to different athletic endeavors such as weightlifting when you perform a squat, because your entire torso functions collectively as a solid foundation rather than twisting and collapsing under pressure.

3. Enhances control and awareness during upper body movements

Training to master the various lever skills requires that you pay close attention to body position in space. All of the pieces of your body must be working in unison and must be coordinated by your mind as such. This is a meditative practice as much as it is a physical one. Focus must be entirely set on performing the movement to the best of your ability. Only through practice with body awareness will you become the strongest you can be.


That’s all pretty incredible when you think about it.

But there is a lot more to it like SKILL TRANSFER like in this guy

Today, I decided to do some muscleups for a change of pace and was amazed at how easy they were, in spite of the fact that I haven’t done any in months. What really surprised me was how smooth and slowly I was able to do them. In the past, I would have to put some explosiveness into them to get thru the transition, while today I was able to pull up and thru the transition with far less effort than before. A nice, unexpected carryover !

Now that you know all the benefits, its time  to get training.

Check out these FRONT LEVER Resources:

7 Days Front Lever Killer Workout,

Front Lever Progression


Get your first FRONT LEVER with this 7 days KILLER WORKOUT

Get your first FRONT LEVER with this 7 days KILLER WORKOUT


Front lever is a skill that involves each and every muscle of your upper body, including some parts of the lower body such as the glutes.

Most of the skills that are included in the bodyweight training method such as planches, front and back levers, flags, 1 arm pull-ups, Handstand pushups are driven from one key area from the upper body or to be more precise from the back.

The SCAPULA position is probably the most underestimated position that every person who wants to perform big with the calisthenics should FIRST learn.

Learning the SCAPULA position is not a big process, but has a HUGE role in getting your first Planche or a lever or even the 1 arm pull-up.

To know better about what I’m on in this paragraph, you can check these three following videos in which you will see the exact execution of this position and the proper way of learning it.

But, let’s get back to our topic for today.

Levers, levers, levers…

Since I started doing calisthenics my main goal was getting the muscle-up, 1 arm pull-up and of course, the front, and the back lever.

I can say I had difficulties with the 1 armed pullup, but there I first noticed the true importance of the SCAPULA position where I needed to retract the scapula so I can pull off my arm.

Since I started practicing the scapula position on a daily basis I saw great improvements in my front lever and handstand.

Enough for the scapula position.

The second important part of the front lever is the core, especially your lower back and glutes.

Squeezing both the glutes and the lower back muscles will keep you in a line and a straight position like in the picture below.

Perfect Form

What I personally like about the gymnastic rings is the stability that you will need to focus on when performing a front lever.

So, what should every trainee do in order to achieve a gymnastic ring front lever?

Well, practicing the movement 3 times in a week can be a game changer.

The more you practice; the better you will be at it. Back in the days when I was focusing on getting my first muscle-up I was practicing it for 14 days in a row. That’s called DEDICATION.

You got to be dedicated to the front lever until you get your first quality repetition. From then on, you can lower the effort and slowly progress to some harder variation (example 1 arm front lever).

Many people are targeting the ABS as a main muscle group involved in the front lever, but trust me they are terribly wrong.

I don’t say the ABS are not involved in the front lever, especially the lower abdominals, but what I do say is that I already mentioned  the key areas that first should be targeted before targeting the ABS.

There has already been an introduction of the front lever on our site, so I thought about teaching you how to build your own program so you can master this calisthenic skill.

You should always start with one or two main exercises that should have your main focus, and continue with accessory exercises.

So let’s say SCAPULA Pull-up is one main exercise and the second one SCAPULA Hold.

The accessory exercises would be Tuck Roll1 Legged out Roll, and also 1 exercise focusing on the isometric holds, tuck hold or straddle hold or any other variation based on your strength level.

The program should end up with targeting the glutes by doing the bridges and isometric bridges for which I will give you a perfect example of by sharing a video of the professional NBA player Goran Dragic.

Also, we should not forget about the other core muscles such as the ABS and lower back.

So now that I summarized everything, it’s time to show you an example of one Front Lever program.

***Note that before proceeding with this program you should be able to perform a couple of sets of 15 repetitions of pull-ups without a problem (full range of motion).



  1. Scapula work (Learn the scapular pullup)3 – 4 sets of 6 – 12 repetitions
  2. Scapula hold– 6 sets of max holds
  3. Wide pull-ups slow negatives (hold for couple of seconds at the top) – 4 x 6 – 10
  4. Tuck Roll1 legged Front Lever Roll – 4 x 6 – 10
  5. Tuck Hold1 legged Front Lever Hold – 4 x 5 – 20 Sec holds
  6. Glutes activation(check 8:00 minute)
  7. Lower back (Reverse hyper)– 5 x 15
  8. ABS (Your choice, preferable Knee Raises and L-Hold for time) – Knee Raises(4 x 12 – 20), L-Holds  4 x 10 + (Increase every week)


 Push routine (muscle-ups, pushups, dips or whatever you choose)




  1. Scapula Holds – 6 sets of 10 Sec + holds
  2. Tuck Hold (or Straddle FL Hold If you are more advanced or Advanced Tuck Hold) –  4 – 7 sets of 5 – 20 Sec holds
  3. L- Holds – 5 x 10 Sec + holds
  4. Wide Pull-up On Top Hold – 4 x 5 (hold as much as you can)
  5. V-Hold on the ground – 4 – 20 –  45 hold (Hollow Body)
  6. Laying on Stomach Superman Hold – 4 x 10 – 20 Sec holds
  7. Glut Holds – 2 legged 1 minute x 3 sets, 1 legged 30 – 45 seconds x 2 sets (R/L)
  8. Full FL Rolls 4 x 5 – 10 (FINISHER)


 (muscle-ups, pushups, dips or whatever you choose)

Friday – REST



  1. Scapula work (Learn the scapular pullup)3 – 4 sets of 6 – 12 repetitions
  2. Scapula hold– 6 sets of max holds
  3. Wide pull-ups slow negatives (hold for couple of seconds at the top) – 4 x 6 – 10
  4. Tuck Roll1 legged Front Lever Roll – 4 x 6 – 10
  5. Tuck Hold1 legged Front Lever Hold – 4 x 5 – 20 Sec holds
  6. Glutes activation(check 8:00 minute)
  7. Lower back (Reverse hyper)– 5 x 15
  8. ABS (Your choice preferable knee raises and L-Hold for time) – Knee Raises(4 x 12 – 20), L-Holds  4 x 10 + (Increase every week)

Sunday – REST

** This routine should be followed for no more than 4 weeks before changing it up.

I’ve written Tuck Roll/ 1 legged Front Lever Roll because I want you to know that you can choose the variations depending on your strength and level. To see the step by step variation for the front lever visit *** LINK LINK LINK *** (Front Lever).

I personally experienced great improvements in my front lever of this program and that’s why I thought about sharing it with you.

Follow this 4 week program and unleash your true potential.

In some of the videos, you will see that exercises are performed on a pull-up bar. The position is the same every time you focus on keeping the right form and involving the scapular contraction, no matter if it’s on a pull-up bar or on gymnastic rings. Make sure you stretch and go through a proper warm-up before you start your workouts. It will help you on a long run, keeping you injury free. I look forward to hearing your personal experiences from this program. Share pictures or tape videos and share them with me. I would love to see you get your first gymnastic rings front lever. At the same time if you find hard to understand something from this post, feel free to ask in the comment section below. I will reply as soon as I can.


But what if I can’t do some of these exercises? 

That’s probably the question most of you are asking yourself. 

Lack of personalization is hurting your training performance. It’s a FACT

Imagine if some of these exercises above were too hard for you. Your body will try to compensate with a poor form, movement dysfunction and possibly risk injury if it’s too challenging. And now imagine if some of these exercises were too easy they wouldn’t challenge your muscles to grow – you’d simply be wasting your time.  This is why we created Calisthenics Academy: to offer a fully personalized training program reflecting exactly where your level is for optimal performance.

Take the assessment to see how do you stack up on the 8 fundamental calisthenics moves

calisthenics training assessment

calisthenics training assessment

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calisthenics academy the ultimate calisthenics training program

Front Lever Progression

Front Lever Progression

Front lever progression

Front lever progression

The front lever is an upper body progression which starts off with some relatively easy exercises before moving on to the ultimate step. The Front Lever is a fairly dynamic exercise made up of many different static motions as you build up through the progression. By the end your control of your own body weight will be an impressive feat and the muscular shape of your upper body will definitely improve.

front lever

front lever

Step 1 – Vertical Rows

For this exercise you should use a low bar where your feet can touch the ground. Alternatively you can use a high pull-up bar with a raised flat surface to rest your feet on. Put your feet flat on the floor or surface and grip the bar with your knees bent. Pull yourself up until your chest is near the bar and control back down.

Step 2 – Horizontal Rows

The added difficulty in this step involves moving more of your body weight with your arms. Instead of putting your feet on the floor, straighten your legs and rest your heels on the floor. This time you will be pulling some of your leg weight as well as the weight of your upper body.

Step 3 – Wide Bar Rows

This step is very similar to the previous step except for the hand position. In order to increase the difficulty to work up to a front lever position, you must make the exercise more difficult on your arms by spreading your hand position much wider than shoulder width apart. If you can manage it, try to double the distance your hands have been apart in the previous two steps and pull up.

Step 4 – Archer Rows

The purpose of this exercise is to bring strength to your core in preparation for the front lever step. It is not a full-proof way of being able to prepare you for the final step as it is not a similar exercise, so you may wish to consult some exercises in the leg raise progression for full preparation. Use two small dumbbells (3-8kg) and hand them in your hands while adopting a push-up position. You should concentrate on pulling up with your arms alternatively so your opposite side is facing the ground. This exercise will give further strength to your arms while engaging your core and obliques which are also key for the final exercise.

Step 5 – Front Lever Rows

Back to the bar position, place your heels on the floor. This time when you pull up focus on bringing your knees in towards your chest while pulling your chest towards the bar, hold this position shortly before controlling back to the starting position. To progress from this, you can balace with your body parallel to the ground with your feet unsupported then pull up and bring your knees to your chest.

There are other Front Lever variations you can try:

By the end of this progression your upper body will be strong and stable. See what else you can use this new found strength for with some of our other progressions.


Check those additional resources for the levers:

L-Sit, V-Sit and Hamstring Mobility

Fundamentals of Straight Arm Strength Training

3 Reasons Why You Must Practice Levers

calistenics training