TWO WAYS OF ACHIEVING FRONT LEVER
Dear Caliathletes, today I’d like to bring to your attention a topic that might clarify some doubts regarding which is the best way to achieve a front lever.
As most of you noticed, nowadays people decide to approach the discipline of Calisthenics in different ways that are all coming to a common point of popularity worldwide: endurance, strength, freestyle (dynamic skills), static skills.
In consideration of these different “classes”, in which we can divide the discipline, there’s an aspect that makes everything more interesting that is the different way, an athlete, develops his strength so to be able to master and perform the different skills and all the combos.
Among them, surely one is known to be quite of a struggle to achieve for some, we’re talking about the Front Lever.
In this article, we’d like to talk about the differences in terms of specific training that you could adopt if you were an endurance and strength athlete, rather than a freestyle/skills one.
Two different ways to achieve the same skill, but with completely different paths involving different kind of exercises, different body stimulations, hence different time range in order to get it.
FRONT LEVER DEVELOPMENT IN FREESTYLE AND SKILLS WORKOUTS
Probably most of you, at the very beginning of your Calisthenics journey, have wondered how is it possible to achieve a lever where your body is exactly parallel to the ground! It looks so cool and at the same time inhuman to do it!
Well, the most common path you might have come across when thinking about how to achieve such position and mostly how to develop the necessary strength in order to perform it, searching on the web, must have been something like a sort of progression ladder where are involved different exercises of the following types: isometrics, eccentrics and dynamics. Nothing wrong with that, if not for the fact that for sure it’ll take you a while to master every single step of this ladder and a proper tendons’ conditioning.
THE DIFFERENT PATHS: ISOMETRICS, ECCENTRICS, DYNAMICS
If we are going to take a deeper look at which is the ladder we’re talking about, it might look something like this:
FRONT LEVER ISOMETRICS (HOLDS)
- Advanced Tuck
- One leg
- Straddle Half-lay
FRONT LEVER ECCENTRICS
Basically following the same stances as above, working on i.e. the eccentric phase of each one of them in duly time which means developing good time ranges in terms of seconds of eccentrics.
An example might be starting with inverted dead hang position on the bar, or even better on rings and from such position lowering the body with the corresponding stance you’re working on in that moment, counting how many seconds you are able to slower such movement in each set
FRONT LEVER DYNAMICS
- Pull-ups (with all the stances above)
- Ice-cream makers (with all the stances above)
- Half Raises (0 to 90°)
- Full Raises (0 to 180° on the bar, 0 to 270°/360° on rings)
- Ice-cream makers to Raises
- Raises to Pull-ups
As you can see, there’s a huge variety of exercises you can combine and include in your workouts, in so many different ways and on whose you can work in order to achieve the Front Lever, sooner or later. In my humble and personal opinion, these paths can lead you to train in a more stimulating way your CNS, being more cautious about developing a proper tendon conditioning.
Performing workout after workout, week by week and mostly month by month so many different motor patterns, will help you becoming more aware of your body so to control it in the space while moving it on different layers, horizontal, vertical, oblique and all the mix of these three.
Sure thing is the fact that, especially regarding the isometrics and eccentrics, since you should work on developing and increasing time ranges on a monthly basis, the time invested will be sensibly higher, but worth it on the other hand.
FRONT LEVER DEVELOPMENT IN ENDURANCE & STRENGTH WORKOUTS
At the other side of the coin, we have another path to consider and that you might want to follow, depending on which goals you set for yourself in your Calisthenics journey.
Before, we tried to explain and show the different paths you can follow if your goal is to achieve all the main skills of Calisthenics together with the freestyle tricks.
Now, we are gonna consider instead a “quieter” path in terms of which exercises you will work on, in order to firstly develop an impressive level of strength, stamina and workload.
We are talking about the way of endurance and strength Calisthenics, purely based on the development of both elements so to build an impressive physique, capable of performing so many reps in very short time ranges, but at the same time while developing stamina thanks to the endurance way of performing reps and sets, workout after workout.
Another important factor is the intensity’s variation you can implement in every workout passing from endurance Calisthenics to specific work on hypertrophy, then passing to cardio with E.M.O.M. or E.D.T. circuits for instance or similar cardio training protocols ending up with isometrics. All these very stimulating ways of training, can lead to develop such a level of strength that will take you to master the Front Lever as well, but following a complete different path, if you compare it with the ones seen above.
THE DIFFERENT PATHS: STRENGTH, ISOMETRICS, ENDURANCE, CARDIO
In this case, we are not going to enlist a progression ladder as we did before, but we will try to enlist which are the most common ways to increase stamina, volume and body mass with the above types of training:
Weighted bodyweight basic exercises such as pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, push-ups and muscle-ups; are a great mean that definitely helps to increase firstly body mass since, depending on the load you use; you will work also on hypertrophy.
Secondly, of course you are gonna develop an impressive strength level in duly time that, overall, can seriously lead you to lighten the load that usually is perceived while getting into a front lever stance
Weighted isometrics also known as “holds” are focusing on developing a bigger strength in all phases of a typical pulling movement, hence dead-hang, head to bar (or below it) and chin above so, considering the nice work you can do by training isometrics with your own bodyweight, think what you might do if you also add a variable load to them
All possible combinations of sets and reps of basics, specifically performed with low breaks in between sets, fast execution and high volume in terms of reps is another great way to provide your body with a bigger resistance under fatigue.
In this case, ladders or pyramidal sets are a great example and they can become quite challenging once you reach an intermediate/advanced level.
This eventually might lead you to be able to have an overall better performance once you are fresh to start a new workout, based on skills rather than basics and so, once again front lever lightened by the previous resistance work done.
Building a bigger stamina by breaking the natural limits of your body after reaching what has been until now your maximum workload, hence set by set pushing yourself one step further so to be able to perform more reps in each set, in duly time
Some training protocols have been implemented in Calisthenics too, so to make the game more interesting and various compared to a typical skills’ workout. See for instance E.M.O.M., which stands for “Each Minute on Minute”, nowadays very common and challenging cardio/resistance routine to perform or “E.D.T.” which stands for Escalating Density Training.
Both protocols can include basic exercises with the aim to increase indeed volume, stamina and hypertrophy as well
Possible combinations of powerful and explosive bodyweight exercises such as burpees, burpees/pull-ups and so on might be an interesting variation to consider in order to help the body become more explosive and performing also while doing skills’ workouts
Ok Caliathletes, I believe we’ve come already at the end of this article that, as you noticed, is meant to provide you with a bit more awareness of which are the paths you can choose to follow whether you’re a newbie in Calisthenics or an athlete who has been training for a while with it.
As you noticed, the beauty of this discipline comes out once again since it allows training your body in so many different ways, conditions, motor patterns and volumes that you’ll never get bored of, whichever way you choose to approach for achieving your goals.
Keep in mind the differences and mostly set up in your head, which is the path you wanna follow, the one of the skills or the one of the endurance and strength. It is hard in my opinion to maintain both, since in their own way, both ways require proper dedication and time to master the different exercises and so combining the two and hoping to get the same high results in both it’s quite hard.
Not by chance indeed, also in championships you find categories of athletes who are dedicating their trainings to Endurance and Strength and others who are instead keen on skills and freestyle.
Last but not least, another consideration to make is the fact that, the rule that applies in this particular case for front lever, cannot be applied for other more specific skills.
Take for instance Planche or Back Lever, where instead you have to develop a more specific strength that, in the first case focuses mainly on shoulder and shoulder blades activation and in the second case as well together with chest and wider shoulder ROM.
“Training wisely also means not focusing on a single way of doing it, but means varying out of the typical schemes and getting out of the comfort zone, so to break your limits and go beyond them while finding new stimuli for your mind and body.”