In this article we will help you build up the foundation of progressing past the pull-up into the more advanced movement toes to bar. You are laying the foundation brick by brick towards even more advanced skills such as the bar muscle-up and it will enhance any kipping movement in the rig or on rings.
Even though it is hard to give an exact figure on what strength is needed to perform several toes-to-bar in a series, a ballpark figure is that you need to have a strict pull-up to have the lat strength needed to sustain the practice of kipping movements.
Obviously since TTB is a compression movement you need some strength in the compression pattern as well. A good starting point would be to be able to perform one strict toes to bar or five straight knee leg raises above parallel.
I think that 5 good form kipping pull-ups which are derived from the understanding of a solid beat swing is good starting platform in developing a series of toes-to-bar. This is why I emphasize that you read “Mastering the Pull-up” prior to this article.
Now lets go through some exercises that you will benefit a lot from by understanding. Watch the video below to get a basic understanding of the toes-to-bar.
The first technical piece in understanding the path to toes-to-bar. Initiate the movement with some beat swings and when you push back into Hollow lift the knees towards your chest. Synchronize bending and straightening the knees with the beat.
Watch the video and image above. Note that the shoulders are far back from the rig. This is key in any kipping movement and a sign that you are using the lats.
Strict leg lifts are awesome in developing compression strength. Here we are trying to fold as much as possible. The best option is to perform these in a stall bar but since most only have pullup rigs that is the most viable option.
Lift the legs as high as possible with as straight knees as possible.
Getting good at this exercise will make you a stronger gymnast across all modalities so embrace it.
Front levers are not very commonly performed in the Functional Fitness sphere but I think they are excellent in both building awareness of how to activate the lats and are excellent hanging core exercises. They are also great allround-fitness developers and I believe a strong scapula-girdle will help you stay out of kipping related injuries.
For this reason I include them in my training plans.
The tuck is a reasonable variation for this strength level. Pull back with the lats like the video then ball-up into a Tuck. Now make sure that you push yourself as far back as possible instead of just passively hanging under the bar. Your lats should burn.
The last bit of Toes to bar puzzle is practicing the straight leg dynamic leg lift. Just like the knee raise initiate the movement with some good beat swings. As you increase the beat swing start to lift your legs while pushing back into the rig. Lift them higher until you one day can perform toes-to-bar to the beat.
When this day comes you have mastered the toes to bar.
Watch this final video of the Toes to bar in slow mo.
Notice that it’s basically just a big beat swing.
Hopefully you have now understood the foundation of the second kipping gymnastic movement Toes to bar. Now you need some practice to get it!
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