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Kevin McKay 04-14-2006 05:13 PM

Hi, I am working on the frontlever progression and it seems that the only way I can pull off a tuck front lever is with my arms bent... Is this ok?

David Ingersoll 04-14-2006 09:45 PM

Well it's obviously OK from a general "it's a free country" point of view. But from the point of maximizing the strength benefits from the progressions, then no, it's not OK. Coach Sommer has repeatedly emphasized that keeping the arms straight from the very beginning is crucial.

What happends if you keep your arms straight? How long can you hold that? 1 second? Less?

A few questions:

How tall/heavy are you?
How long have you been trying?
How often have you been working them?
Do the holds add up to 1 minute of cumulative work?

Kevin McKay 04-15-2006 07:55 AM

Hi David,

Yeah when I straighten the arms I slump immediately

I am 6ft
Yesterday was the first try
Can’t accumulate time unless I do bent arms

Should I use bent arms to get into position then lowly straighten arms?
With straight arms I can’t even get my hips up but maybe that is because I was working knees to elbows and lsit the day before and am still sore.

David Ingersoll 04-15-2006 08:50 AM

Kevin, try it again when rested, but yes, I would suggest aiming on straight arms from the beginning. Hang in a vertical tuck, your rear pointing to the ceiling, then lower yourself slowly, trying to hold the horizontal position.

If you can't hold it at all, I would suggest giving it 60 attempts per day, about 4 times per week. Really focus on keeping those arms straight.

That's what I had to do for the tuck planche, and after a couple of weeks, I was holding it for 3 seconds, then 6, 10, etc...


Kevin McKay 04-15-2006 08:58 AM

Thanks dave! I will do as you suggest.

Kevin McKay 04-15-2006 09:23 AM


Not sure I understand what you are saying with the tuck planche. Are you saying you started with a hand stand and lowered through the tuck planche holding as long as possible? I am still on the frog sit with that progression.

David Ingersoll 04-15-2006 11:03 AM

Sorry, no.. I just meant that when I transitioned from the frog stand to the tuck planche, it was a huge step, and I couldn't do it.

I couldn't hold the tuck planche for more than 1 second (even that's a little generous). So I just gave it 60 hard attempts over the day with good rest in between each. After 1-2 weeks of 4-5 days/wk, I was able to hold it for 3 seconds, then 8, then 10, etc...

The point is, don't get dicouraged. It's easy to get impatient with these holds. They work so many muscles, you have to wait for all of them to strengthen before you can move on. Take the lever for instance...You may strengthen your lats by doing other exercises, but then when you extend your legs out, you may find that your abs are giving out on you even though your lats are solid.

That's what I like about these can work-out your whole upper body with just a few moves.

Travis Hall 04-15-2006 09:12 PM

i started the progressions on the floor and soon switched to paralettes. big difference!

i find it easier to keep the straight arms on paralettes vs. the floor. a flexability issue i guess. i also find i get more 'pressing' strength through using the tension created by my grip on the paralettes- thereby getting my hips higher.

so if you're doing the progressions on the floor, i recommend experimenting with some paralettes.


David Ingersoll 04-16-2006 09:45 AM

I agree. By the time I got to the tuck planche, my wrists were starting to bother me so I moved on to the paralettes. I think an added benefit of the paralettes is that they work your wrists in the same way as holding a sledgehammer out in front of you by the handle would.

Keegan Yentsch 04-16-2006 10:27 PM

Hello David,

I have been working on the planche and front lever progressions for quite some time now. I am currently working on the advanced tuck planche and straddle front lever.

As you stated the jump between progressions is huge. I had a very similar experience as you when I tried to progress from the frog stand to the tuck planche. The same thing occured when I tried to progress from the tuck planche to the advanced tuck planche.

My question to you really applies to both holds (the planche and front lever). My question is; how close to failure do you usually train. I know I tried using the 1/2 maximal time hold method, but seemed to really stagnate while doing so. In fact, even though I practiced doing this for well over 12 weeks, I didn't really see any improvement in my maximal hold time.

I'm wondering if you are still working to near failure, or if you are using the 1/2 maximal hold time method.

Also, you said that you were doing 60 attempts through the day with "good" rest between. Do you mean that you are "greasing the groove" with the attempts, or are you doing straight sets? If you are doing straight sets, how long do you rest between sets?

Thanks in advance for any replies.

Also, good luck to you too Kevin. Stick with these exercises, they take a long time to master, but also pay off substantially.

Good training,


David Ingersoll 04-17-2006 09:21 AM

Hey Keegan,

Yeah, I greased the groove on them, going near failure but avoiding it every time. It seemed to work for me, though there were some times where I would plateau for a long time (4-5weeks) and benefitted from backing off for a bit.

I didn't make it farther than you though: I was able to hold the advanced tuck for 10seconds, and a staggered lever with my bent leg reaching the mid-shin area of my straight leg, for 30-40 seconds.

There's a guy called Brian D who got the full lever. I think he worked on the lever pull-ups and ice-cream makers a lot. Here's his post:

The guy from also reported finally getting the lever by just doing a ton of attempts per day whenever he would walk by his bar. You'll have to search his old blog.

I made most of my progress last summer, while I wasn't working. Since then, I've had 10-12 hour days at work and have found it hard to grease the groove for holds that are less than 15 seconds because of the amount of reps needed throughout the day.
Regardless, I was still progressing slowly when I broke my hand while skiing in January (still not healed - may need surgery). Much of my training has been put on hold because of this - I know I know, I should be a one arm chin-up master by now.

(Message edited by Davemtl on April 17, 2006)

Keegan Yentsch 04-17-2006 12:41 PM

Hi David,

Thanks for the clarification and personal experience.

I have experimented with GTG'ing the planche and front lever progressions myself, but like you I have found it difficult to find the time to do so while at work. Also, while at work I'm usually wearing work boots (as I work in a factory), so my max hold times are considerably shorter.

I hear ya about the multiple short duration hold thing. I found while working on the tuck planche/advanced tuck front lever that once I could hold the positions for over 10 seconds without going to failure that I had no problems in terms of fatigue (or finding the time to do reach 1 minute total). However, until I got to that point, I would always feel drained at the end of my sets (especially when I had to execute 20-30 sets to reach 1 minute when I first started).

That also makes me wonder how you're supposed to avoid going to failure when you can only hold the position for 1-2 seconds? I mean if you can hold it for 10 seconds then avoiding failure is no problem. But, if 1-2 seconds is your max, how can you hold the position without going to failure? Especially when doing the previous progression doesn't really carry over all that well in my experience.

For instance, while holding a tuck planche will indeed strengthen the muscles of your shoulder girdle and arms, it won't do anything for the hip extension strength required to perform an advanced tuck planche. The same is true of the front lever progressions. I can hold an advanced tuck front lever for well over a minute and can perform 10+ advanced tuck front lever pull-ups. But, I can only hold a straddle front lever for maybe 3 seconds (on a good day).

Anyways, enough of my rambling. Thanks again for the reply.

Also, sorry to hear about your hand. I hope it heals soon and you don't end up needing surgery.

Good luck and good training,


Keegan Yentsch 04-17-2006 12:43 PM

oops, I meant to sign that last post,


It's been a long day at work and I accidently signed it with one of my screen names from other forums.

Sorry again.


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