Spectacular. That’s the best word to describe Front and Back Levers. When done correctly, they are nothing short of incredible to look at.
When you see a gymnast in the Olympics doing work on the high bar (for men) or the uneven bars (for women), the movements that they are using to go back and forth to gain momentum are Front and Back Levers. They’re also done on the rings.
Doing Front and Back Levers requires a lot of strength and coordination. This is not an exercise for beginners. Most fitness enthusiasts who master this exercise have gone through a progression in order to get to this point. This exercise uses nearly every muscle in the body.
A Feat of Gymnastics
Front and Back Levers have their roots in calisthenics, and can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece, where they were first part of the Olympic Games. Armies of the time used these exercises to build their strength for battle, before transitioning into sport competition with them.
There is a beauty to the rigor and sheer brawn that exercises like Front and Back Levers require. They utilize huge amounts of upper and lower body strength, shaping the muscles into forms that are widely thought of as peak condition.
This exercise is a peak exercise. The only variations are those that are used to progress to mastering Front and Back Levers.
Progression to Mastery
To start with, let’s go through the movements of both the front lever and the back lever.
- Start from an inverted hang, hands on the bar or rings and legs straight, keeping the toes pointed. The top of the head to the tips of the toes should be in line.
- Lower until the body is completely horizontal, and the front of the body is facing the ceiling.
- Advanced practitioners can pull to the Front Lever position all the way from a Dead Hang, or hang on the rings without any muscle power.
- Start from an inverted hang as in the Front lever, hands on the bar or rings and legs up through pointed toes. Again, the top of the head to the tips of the toes should be aligned.
- Lower until the body is completely horizontal, This time with the front of the body facing the floor.
- As with the Front Lever, advanced practitioners can pull to the Front Lever position all the way from a Dead Hang, or hanging on the rings without any muscle power.
It’s important to take note of the progression to master Front and Back Levers. There are many variations on the progression, but they generally include Tuck Levers, Straddle Levers, and Open Tuck Levers. There are are some progressions that start on the floor, then move to bars or rings.
Benefits of Being Spectacular
One of the primary benefits of Front and Back Levers is mental, not physical. By the time someone gets to the point of being able to complete this exercise, they have generally been working towards it for a very long time. Through that progression, there were challenges and setbacks.
Finally being able to do this exercise is a mental and emotional win.
Other physical benefits include heart health and increased muscle tone. Specifically, the core is what makes this exercise work and which get the biggest benefit. Coordination is also improved by practicing these exercises. Joint health gets a boost from Front and Back Levers as well. This is a whole body workout that helps to take even masterful exercise enthusiasts to the next level, preserving and expanding that high level of fitness.
Front and Back Levers are a goal exercise. They are spectacular, but the hard work that it takes to get there is what’s truly impressive.