The back lever is a static calisthenics exercise where you hang horizontally beneath the bar. Not only does it look fantastic, but it also builds significant strength.
It’s certainly not an easy skill to master, but with the right training structure, progressions, and supporting exercises, almost anyone can learn it. So, if you want to master the back lever, you’ve come to the right place.
This blog is structured as follows. First, we’ll discuss the prerequisites you need to meet before safely starting. Then, we’ll move on to the proper technique and explore various progressions.
Back lever - Strength Requirement
Back lever - Mobility Requirement
Skin the cat
– 5 pull ups with 30-40% of bodyweight added
– 5 skin the cats
Body positioning in the back lever
Shoulderblades (Scapula) should be protracted and depressed:
- Protracted: Shoulders forward
- Depressed: Shoulders downward
By pushing the shoulders forward and downward (protracted and depressed), you stabilize the shoulder blades and reduce the risk of injuries.
Place your hands approximately shoulder-width apart on the bar/rings. There are two different types of grips: the supinated grip and the pronated grip.
The pronated grip is the grip used in a standard pull-up, while the supinated grip is typically used in a chin-up.
The supinated grip puts significantly more tension on your biceps and is therefore more prone to injuries. That’s why it’s wise to train with a pronated grip.
Progressions back lever
tucked back lever
advanced tucked back lever
straddle back lever
How to train for the back lever?
Start with the first progression:
- Train 2 to 3 times per week.
- Perform 4 to 5 sets of your current progression per workout.
- Each set should last a minimum of 4 seconds and a maximum of 10 seconds.
- Rest for at least 3 minutes between sets.
Do not go for a maximum hold in every set. It’s better to distribute your energy across the sets. Constantly training for maximum holds increases the risk of injuries. Therefore, always stop 1 to 2 seconds before complete fatigue.
How should it be done? Example of building your back lever training: In this example, we assume a 1 rep max on the tucked variant of 7 seconds.
1st Training: 4 sets of 5 seconds hold (Reps in Reserve 2). 2nd training: 2 sets of 6 seconds and 2 sets of 5 seconds.
This way, you build strength in a structured manner. Your body recovers, gets stronger, and eventually, you achieve 10 seconds per set. This is the moment to progress to the next variation.
Next, train the advanced tucked variant and start again with sets of approximately 4-5 seconds.