How To Do A Toes To Bar Exercise And Their Benefits

Extreme Benefits of toes to bar

Knowing how to do a perfect toes to bar is an extremely dynamic workout to have in your repertoire because it carves out your abdominal muscles while, simultaneously, strengthening your shoulders, grip, glutes, and lower back. Toes to bar engages your entire body and therefore it is also an extremely effective cardiovascular workout and efficient way to get your heart rate up, burn calories, and really strengthen your core muscles.

As effective as toes to bar is, though, it’s extremely important to make sure you know how to do them correctly to prevent injury, since you are going to be swinging your legs above your head while hanging from the pullup bar. That’s why we’re going to go into that process here, to make sure that you are safe, have perfect form, and can take advantage of this dynamic, fat shredding, workout!


Two Different Styles

Now, there are two different ways to do toes to bar which come from different styles of working out, gymnastics and crossfit. We will focus on the foundational gymnastics version of the toes to bar and then I will explain the differences between the two because the crossfit version simply adds another type of motion into the traditional toes to bar. The gymnastics version is a more controlled, isolated, motion, whereas the crossfit toes to bar will involve a wider range of motion. Both have overlap in what they accomplish but the gymnastics version is going to focus more on isolated body strength whereas the crossfit toes to bar is going to leverage momentum to maximize the amount of repetitions possible in the work out.

Safety For Beginners

Beginners should NOT just jump up, grab a pullup bar, and start swinging their toes up to the bar unless they are looking to injure themselves. It’s important to lay down on the ground, preferably with a mat, to learn how to do a perfect toes to bar so that when they transition to the pullup bar, they will have some muscle memory formed and be more comfortable with the exercise’s motion.

1. Lay flat with your arms extended behind your head.
  • This position is going to mimic your “free-hang” from the bar. Relax your body. Your arms should be extended straight behind your head with your palms facing up and just slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Your legs should also be extended straight out with just a couple of inches between your feet.
2. Flex your abdominal muscles and glutes, which slightly raises your legs from the ground.
  • This position mimics what is known as the “hollow” position when you are hanging from the bar, where your body is in tension and your feet are hanging in front of your body. This has your body ready to be raised.
3. In a controlled manner, keeping your legs straight, raise your feet up and over your head until your knees are about head level. Don’t go back any further.
  • Raising your legs to this point isn’t going to bring your feet all the way back to your hands but you want to gradually increase your range of motion until you feel comfortable going further back. It’s also important not to go too far backward while lying on the ground because you can potentially strain your neck.
4. Lower your legs back down until you are back in the “hollow” position, with your abdominal and glute muscles flexed, and your feet slightly off the ground.
  • Lowering back down in a controlled manner will help you get more comfortable with the motion and help prevent injury from jerking. Repeat steps two, three, and four several times.

How To Do A Perfect Toes To Bar

Now that we have learned the proper form required to do a perfect toes to bar, we’re now ready to transition to the actual bar exercise. If you hang from the bar and you do not feel that you have the grip strength to hang on to the bar throughout the entire workout, then continue practicing on the mat while you do workouts that strengthen your grip – i.e. pullups or the farmer’s walk – until you feel comfortable enough to do it from the bar. Do not try to do a toes to bar if you have any concern for your grip strength.

Toes TVo Bar: Gymnasts Style [4 Sets; 10 – 12 Reps]

1. Grip the bar with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart.

Wrap your thumbs under the bar to get a full grip. You want to make sure your hands are just a little wider than shoulder width apart to ensure that you don’t kick your fingers when you raise your toes to the bar.

2. Get into the “hollow” position with your feet slightly in front of the rest of your body.

Remember, to get into this position you just have to slightly flex your abdomen muscles and glutes and your feet will swing slightly forward. Now your body is tensed and ready to swing your toes up to the bar.

3. Swing your legs up about three-quarters of the way up to the bar and lower them back down to the hollow position.

You don’t have to reach the bar on the first try. It’s just important to get your body used to the motion while hanging from the bar.

4. If you’re comfortable, explode from the hollowing position with more power, keeping your legs straight, and try to reach the bar.

Your first couple of sets will probably consist of fewer reps and simply trying to get the form correct and reaching your toes to the bar.

5. Once you feel comfortable reaching the bar with your toes. Take a break, begin a new set, and start right into the full workout.

Start in the hollowing position and swing your toes up to the bar and then back down into the hollowing position. Maintaining control throughout the entire exercise. If you feel your grip loosening, stop immediately to prevent injury.

6. Repeat for four complete sets of 12 repetitions.

Learning how to do the perfect toes to bar takes some practice but once you feel comfortable with the workout, it is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your abdominal muscles and you can work up a serious sweat in the process. Watch below video:

CrossFit Toes To Bar

Once you have mastered the gymnasts style toes to bar above, you can also learn the crossfit style of toes to bar, which is essentially the same exact workout, except they add a “kip” at the bottom of the exercise.

1. Start on the ground with a mat, again.

This time, lay on your stomach with your arms extended out in front of you as though you are hanging from the bar.

2. Raise your arms and legs back and off the ground about six inches.

Pause with your arms and legs raised and then lower them back down to the mat so you are lying flat on your stomach.

3. Repeat this motion ten to twelve times.

This mat exercise, known as the “Superman”, is simulating the backwards kipping motion we’ll be adding to our toes to bar.

Kip on a Pullup Bar:

  1. Start in the “hollow” position.
  2. Simultaneously, bring your hips slightly forward and swing your legs back into the superman position.
  3. Use that momentum and swing your hips back and bring your feet forward into the hollow position, again.

Doing this hip motion where you swing your legs back and forth is called “kipping”.

CrossFit Toes to Bar:

  1. Start in the hollow position and kip back into the superman position.
  2. Using that momentum, swing your legs forward, returning your hips to their original position, and bring your toes all the way up to the bar!
  3. Repeat 10 – 12 times per set for four sets.

It’s really a simple swaying motion you’re adding into the workout to give you more momentum. This added motion will increase your heart rate and should also help you do more repetitions in your set, promoting endurance and total-body fitness.

See The Difference!

Both styles of toes to bar have their benefits. The gymnast style doesn’t use momentum to raise your toes to the bar and therefore, your abdominal muscles are doing all the work and will really be strengthened through the process. It is also a more controlled exercise, one again emphasizing core strength.

The crossfit style of toes to bar will use momentum and really focus on stamina and total-body fitness, while still primarily exercising your abdominal muscles. The toes to bar is an excellent abdominal workout which involves several major muscle groups, regardless of what style you decide to employ! Start learning how to do a perfect toes to bar the next time you are at the gym and you’ll see the immediate effects it has on your body!

Kelly Joyner

Hi, I'm Kelly, I'm very glad you took a few minutes of your time to check out my blog. RegularityFitness is a blog about the best fitness exercises, weight loss methods, diet, muscle building. That will help you get a good shape and healthy.

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