Progressions Toward Your First Front Lever

Taken from Men’s Health Magazine in an interview with Dave Durante.

Some exercises just look awesome.

We’ve all seen someone show off a move that takes unbelievable balance, concentration, and strength, appearing to bend the laws of physics and defy gravity. These are what we’re calling Hero moves, the high-level maneuvers that you’ve watched slack-jawed on Instagram but never imagined you’d be able to pull off yourself.

Good news: With the right plan, you can learn exactly what it takes to master these Hero moves. CrossFit coach and former USA National Gymnastics champ David Durante is confident that he can help you master the front lever, a rings-based maneuver that takes a remarkable amount of strength and body control. After you follow his progressions and put in a ton of work, you’ll be able to show off that coordination and movement mastery, too.


Before you’re ready to take on the front lever progressions, Durante says that you’ll need to have three prerequisites down.

The first is a positional component, the hollow body position. You need to be able to hold the position for up to a minute on the ground to be able to try the lever on the rings.

Hollow Body Hold

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds

Second component: Inverted hang. This means you’re upside down on the rings, essentially performing a handstand.

Inverted Hang

Get upside down on the rings

Third component: Strength. You’ll need major lat strength to pull off the front lever. If you can’t rep out 10 to 15 strict form pullups in one go, you’re not ready to move on.

Strict Pullups

10 to 15 reps


If you can meet all these prerequisites, you’re ready for the warmup exercises.

Warmup 1

Weighted Pullbacks

7 to 10 reps of 5 second holds

Warmup 2

Banded Lying Straight-Arm Pulldown

2 to 3 sets of 5 reps with a 3-second hold

Warmup 3

Lying Victorian Raise

10 reps with a 2-second pause

Physical fitness, Strength training, Barbell, Exercise, Exercise equipment,


Once you’re warmed up, you’re ready for the progressions. Remember, you’ll need a set of rings and plenty of room to maneuver to pull this off, so only attempt the front lever if you have access to a good facility.

Progression 1

Tuck Front Lever

3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 second holds

Progression 2

Tuck Front Lever Descent

3 sets of 3 reps of 5-second descents

Progression 3

Single-Leg Extension Front Lever

5 sets of 5 second holds

Progression 4

Single-Leg Extension Front Lever Descent

5 sets of 5-second holds for each leg

Progression 5

Front Lever Descent

7 to 10 sets of 5 to 10 second descents

Progression 6

Front Lever Drawbridge

5 sets of 3 to 5 second holds at various angles

Physical fitness, Rings, Performance, Artistic gymnastics, Leg, Gymnastics, Crossfit, Balance, Acrobatics, Circus,

Once you’ve mastered each of these progressions, you’ll be ready for the real thing.

When to Do the Front Lever

When you’re working up to the full movement, Durante recommends working on the prerequisites twice a week, building up to four sessions as you get the hang of things. Make sure to take rest days in between, and stay consistent with your training if you really want to nail the front lever. “Consistency is the name of the game,” says Duarante. “If you want to become better at gymnastics movements, you have to be working on this on a regular basis.”

That said, Hero moves are a great way to show off your hard work and athleticism—so if you can pull off the front lever, don’t be shy! Share your skills with us (@menshealthmag) and Durante (@davedurante), and experiment with the places you pull off the move.The Muscleup | Hero Movesby Men’s Health USPlay Video

If you want to learn other Hero moves, check out our explainers on the Muscleup above, along with the Pistol SquatSuperman Pushups and the L-Sit. The world can never have too many heroes.

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