Calisthenics – Bodyweight Training – Street Workout. Regardless of the term, many of us have a general understanding of what it is. We can thank Instagram and YouTube for the rapid dissemination of this “seemingly new” modality of strength training. Some of the most recognizable first movers in this sport are Hannibal for King and Frank Medrano. Their viral videos spread across the globe and spawned a movement akin to what Bob Marley did for reggae music. Their natural bodyweight extraterrestrial strength, without the intervention of iron weights, intrigued the masses and helped spawn a movement.
As in most sports, the elite athletes inspire beginners and fledgling bodyweight training enthusiasts. Witnessing these elite athletes crank out muscle ups, hold static back and front levers, and perform explosive combos makes many people yearn to mimic what they see.
Static movements are a great equalizer. Regardless of how long someone has been weight training, running marathons or hitting baseballs, the first time someone grabs a pullup bar and tries to elevate their core and legs into a front lever or human flag, so that their body is parallel to the ground –they fail; At least not as far as full front levers or human flags are concerned.
Where do you begin if you are new to front levers?
When it comes to bodyweight training for dynamic (movement-oriented) and static (non movement-oriented) holds, it is important to understand where your center of gravity is. For example, the center of gravity is further ‘distal’ in the full front lever than it is in the tuck front lever, which focuses a much heavier load on the entire core and lattisimus dorsi (back) muscles. Because of this, before mastering the full front lever, you must strengthen your stabilizers. Start with dead hangs on the pullup bar to strengthen your hands and forearms. Then try brining your knees to your chest. Once you feel comfortable, then lean back with your knees to your chest so that your back is parallel to the ground. This is called the ‘tuck front lever’.
Before advancing, you must be able to comfortably hold a tuck front lever for 20-25 seconds (see image to left). Upon master of the tucked front lever, you can advance to single leg front lever. Yayyyy!
As your center of gravity now moves out more ‘distally’ you’ll inevitably find that adding a resistance band on the extended leg will make it easier and allow you to hold the pose in a static position longer. Similar to the tucked front lever, you want to be able to hold it for around 20 seconds before advancing.
The last progression is to extend both legs out into the full front lever. At first you will likely only be able to hold the full front lever momentarily. For this reason, again, a resistance band is a valuable training tool to make rapid gains in your static hold time and ultimately improve you muscular endurance on the bar
Check out the RubberBanditz calisthenics training page for other great ideas on ways to make calisthenics street workout gains!
*This article was written by Henrik Deleuran. Henrik is a master personal trainer who travels internationally offering seminars and health workshops on lifestyle interventions, diet planning, fitness, and anatomy and physiology. Check out his Instagram @henrik_deleuran for more great learning.