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Dreaming of Front Levers? Here’s How to Do One

Even if caves and steep routes aren't your thing, one can never have enough core strength.


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Front levers are a wicked core exercise and a useful skill when climbing steep roofs. But be warned: no matter how high your psych may be, please don’t try to do all of these exercises in one day. Practice the first until you have achieved mastery, and only then move on to the next.

Shoulder Engagement

This is the most important exercise of this group to master and should be used during any hanging workout and while climbing. If you hangboard or do hanging exercises without any engagement, you can tear your rotator cuff—I learned that the hard way. Ideally, when you jump to the bar, you want to instantly engage. When your shoulders are engaged, you create space between your ears and your arms. Relax your shoulders, and this brings your ears and arms closer together. Practice engaging your shoulders until it becomes second nature!

Knees to Chest

From a hanging position with shoulders engaged, bring your knees to your chest and then back down. This is one rep. Do three sets of 10 reps with two minutes of rest in between each set.

Tuck Lever

From a hanging position with shoulders engaged, bring your knees to your chest. While staying in the tucked position, bring your feet to the bar. Return to a hanging position. This is one rep. Do three sets of 10 reps with two minutes of rest in between each set.

Single Leg Lever

From a hanging position with shoulders engaged, do a tuck lever. Once your feet are at the bar, slowly extend one leg. Bring that leg back to the tuck position. Extend your other leg. Each leg is one rep. Do three sets of 10 reps with two minutes of rest in between each set. When this becomes easy, extend one leg, and then try partly extend your second leg. Slowly extend your second leg until both legs are straight!

Front Lever

From a hanging position, with shoulders engaged and straight arms, rotate to bring your body parallel to the ground! Try to hold for five seconds! This is one rep. Do three sets of three reps with two minutes of rest in between each set.