In this fourth and final lesson about the backlever I will explain the last two steps you can use during your training.
1. Single leg back lever
If you can get into the horizontal position holding your legs tucked, then step it up by tucking less. A great way to transit from “still tucked” to fully extended back lever is extending one leg while keeping the other one tucked in. Get into a high angle back lever position, tuck one leg in and lower down slowly! Alternate legs every round. Don’t try to go horizontal immediately, rather move only as far as you can fully control the position, hold and squeeze!
2. Straddle back lever
At this point it’s basically just altering leverage a little, practicing and staying consistent to build strength. If you can hold the one leg back lever for at least 10 sec with a straight body, try straddle and once you nailed the straddle it’s time to go fully extended. At this point you will be strong enough to at least lower down into a backlever, but still work on angled levels, keeling the angle as high as necessary to keep the position. Hold that position and try to go lower next time. This won’t come overnight, so stay consistent and go hard!
When training calisthenics and moving your body weight through space you can’t just “change” your body weight.
But what you can do to vary the level of difficulty is changing the leverage, in the case of the back lever by changing the leg position.
Get into a high incline backlever position and then tuck your legs in. The closer you tuck the legs to your chest, the easier it will be to perform the exercise. While keeping your core tight and contracting your upper body, slowly descend closer to a horizontal position. Don’t just fall down into it, move only as far as you can while controlling your body position. The goal is to eventually be in a fully extended back lever, so once you can hold the tuck backlever horizontally start gradually extend your legs at the next try!
If possible, ask a training partner to give you feedback about the the angle of your body, since judging whether you’re horizontal or not by yourself is very hard at first, you might feel like superman and think you’re fully horizontal, while you’re actually still at 45 degrees!
Remember two things:
1. The more you tuck you’re legs, the easier it is
2. Always keep your core and upper body tight, controlling the descent into the horizontal position!!
Once you know how to “Skin the Cat” as learned in lesson 1, it’s time to move to the High Angle back lever! Hang from the bar with a overhand grip and get into a inverted hang, just like when doing a skin the cat.
Once your legs passed the bar, straighten out your entire body so that you basically hang completely upside down.
Keep your abs thighs, engage your Lats, arms, chest! Try holding this position and you will already notice how all of your muscles have to work to keep your body stable! The goal is eventually to lower your body until your horizontal, but that’s easier said then done. There are quite some steps in between.
For now, just try to hold this high angle backlever for a couple seconds, then go back into the starting position and repeat! Let me know if you have any questions!
Metroflex in Long Beach, California is probably the sickest training facility in the world! Real training! Nothing else!
I had the pleasure to train there with Antoniette Pacheco and Frank Medrano, and obviously this HAD to be filmed and I uploaded the finished video to the Baristi-Workout Youtube Channel!
There is a Interview with Frank Medrano which will be released soon, so stay tuned.
But before, enjoy our video “Hardcore Calisthenics Fitness“
Since I’ve gotten so many questions about advanced calisthenics moves, especially the back lever, I created a tutorial to get you through all the steps to master this move. You can find it under the #leverfever hashtag on Instagram.
The back lever is performed by lowering from an inverted hang until your body is parallel to the ground! It builds total body strength, plus it just looks cool ;)!
If you see this move the first time, it might seem quite impossible to ever be able to do this, but there are simple steps to build up the necessary strength, and I’ll show you every step!
Lesson 1: Skinning the cat!
The first step to learning the back lever is “Skinning the cat” aka German Hang! Some pretty weird names for a simple trick pretty much every kid does when playing on the monkey bars.
How to do it: Hang from the bar and raise your legs with the knees bent. Try to rotate your body completely keeping your knees to your chest so that your feet don’t hit the bar.
Once you rotated try to extend your body almost trying to reach the floor with your feet. Don’t overstretch at the first attempts, slowly work your way into this position. In the picture I’m not fully extended, as this is a position easily attainable after a few tries.
If you feel comfortable, try to extend further. The deeper you go the more you will stretch your shoulders.
When you got the grasp of this move, just hanging there will provide a great stretch in your upper body! Hold the position briefly, then reverse the movement until you’re back in the starting position.
Even though this really is a kids move, many people fail at the first attempts because growing up they stopped playing and now lack the proper core strength relative to their body weight.
If you can easily get in and out of this position in a controlled way for at least 3 times you’re ready for lesson 2!
How to perform the dip ladder routine:
- 5 seconds hold in the top position
- 5 seconds hold in the bottom position
- 2 dips
- repeat the 5 second holds, then 4 dips
- repeat the same pattern increasing by 2 reps every round, going up to 10 and then back down to 2. The goal is to finish the whole ladder without break-ups. If you have to take a break, don’t worry, try to go longer when you try again!
If you have any questions, please let me know!