How to Build a Concrete Core With the Modified Front Lever

Man hanging from pullup bar in gym.
Man hanging from pullup bar in gym. Front Lever exercise.  Corey Jenkins / Getty Images


For most of us, abs work comes at the end of the gym session. But by this point, you’ve probably run out of steam. And are likely lying on the floor. So if you really want to supercharge your core strength, get off the mat and put abs moves at the start of your workout, just after you’ve loosened up. And try the modified front lever, which has you hanging from a pullup bar and engaging your core to perform a lower-body tuck.

 

 

This has several advantages over traditional crunches or situps. For starters, you aren’t resting your body on the ground, so more of your middle is engaged.

“Movements in which you are hanging and bringing your feet all the way up don’t target just one part of your core but your entire abdominal wall,” says Mathew Forzaglia, coach and trainer at NEO U in New York City.

Plus, the unconventional move requires grip strength and arm and shoulder stamina, works your lats, and improves your body control. To start, focus on doing three to five reps, holding the tuck for 10 to 20 seconds at a time. Make it easier by using a box to reach the bar and stepping off gently, rather than jumping into starting position. And try using a mixed grip (one palm facing out, the other facing you), which will give you a stronger hold on the bar.

You can work up to the modified front lever with knees to chest (pulling your knees toward your sternum). On the other hand, if you achieve the position easily, try performing the tuck, then extending one leg out at a time. Or extend both legs for a full hollow hold. If you’re missing your post-workout lie down, don’t forget: There’s always foam rolling.

Front Lever
Front Lever James Michelfelder

How to do it:

  1. Hang from a pullup bar, hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Engage shoulders and lats by pulling shoulder blades together and down.
  2. Bring knees to waist height (shown left). Engaging abs, simultaneously tuck chin, press hips forward, and pull knees to rib cage, getting shins and torso to parallel (shown right).
  3. Slowly drop hips, unfurl legs, until torso is straight, to start.