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Achieving back lever with Calisthenics

Angelo Gala, a fitness professional from Boston, had a few things to say in his article “My Journey to the Back Lever.” Posted in August of 2013 on the Progressive Calisthenics Certification blog, he shared, “Very rarely do people care about the benefits provided, they’re simply romanced by the “fun factor.” Demonstrate to the same person a back lever and you may see a pair of glazed eyes appreciating the skill, but not quite aware of the work required to get there.”  

He wanted to emphasize how much hard work goes into achieving the back lever, and that calisthenics is not simply fun and flashy moves. Check out how he detailed the progressions that worked best for him, but at the end of the day, constant improvement is key for anyone.

There are many sources of information and tutorials on how exactly to do the back lever, but we’re here to give you ten very simple and expert tips on how to improve back lever, as well as making it a little bit easier to achieve.

how to improve back lever

How to Improve Back Lever


There are many sources of information and tutorials on how exactly to do the back lever, but we’re here to give you ten very simple and expert tips on how to improve back lever, as well as making it a little bit easier to achieve.


One expert tip that people tend to take for granted is that when using a bar, putting your hands as close together as you can helps you carry your weight better. It’s quite similar to what is taught when learning moves in yoga that require you to balance on your hands and arms.


The “Skin the Cat” move is one important way to practice getting into the right rhythm of the back lever, among other things. It causes you to carry yourself and be able to make repetitions of the move, relying on your arm muscles and taking control of your core.

how to improve back lever


The one-legged back lever is probably the closest progression to doing the full back lever. It makes it easier because the one leg puts some of your weight closer to your center of gravity, making it easier to control your entire body as a whole.

One legged back lever


Might be an obvious tip, but it surely makes all the difference. Coaches say squeeze with all your might, almost feeling like you can’t breathe (but of course, you need to breathe!), to let your mind know you’re in control of your body as well.


Something that is not the same for everyone is if using a bar or rings makes it easier when asking how to improve the back lever. The Skin the Cat move, for example, requires you to simulate a backflip by flinging your legs up and over your head. This can be done with ease if using rings but requires you to bend your legs when using a bar. Our tip is to see what works best for you in terms of form and balance.

rings or bars how to improve back lever


Now, moving on to more form-related tips, the first is to keep your back flat. It’s a general tip for everyone doing exercises because it helps you engage your core better, the number one factor in achieving the back lever. Keeping your back at its flattest and most parallel to the ground also protects you from straining it.


The next three are closely related to keeping your back flat. Keeping your arms straight gives you good balance, and allows you to maximize the arm muscles you need to hoist yourself above the ground. It also ensures that you are at the optimal horizontal position to engage your core.


Looking ahead, or keeping your head up, helps you feel more in tune with your body. It engages the right muscles to help you maintain the horizontal posture. It’s also familiar to us how looking straight down or letting your head fall makes the blood rush to our head, and that’s also what we want to avoid. Getting dizzy or feeling nauseous will surely prevent you from maintaining the back lever.


Earlier, we gave the tip that squeezing your body makes things easier for you. When it comes to the placement of your feet, however, we understand it’s quite unclear how to squeeze your feet. The recommended position for your feet is that you point your toes. Again, it lengthens the body for the perfect horizontal posture and also helps keep you in control.


Lastly, if you aren’t part of a class or don’t have a personal trainer, we highly recommend you train on how to improve back lever with a friend or two. This person will serve as your spotter, to help identify the mistakes in your form, or to remind you of the tips we’ve reminded you of above.

These are the 10 pro tips you need to know on how to improve backlever

hand spotter on back lever


Overall, doing the back lever improves the coordination of the different muscle groups in your body such as lats, pectorals, biceps, triceps, low back, and abdominal which do not usually jive with one another to perform other actions. Nonetheless, you can learn how to totally maximize all these muscle groups to hold a solid position in the back lever.

back lever

If you’re just starting out or would like to know more, 
Calisthenics Academy provides a free assessment which is surely worth your while.

There are many people who started from just wondering “how to improve back lever” and turned into great success stories. Always keep yourself updated and informed about the back lever, and all the exercises you want to try out. We can’t wait to see you on that list of success stories!



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