Front Lever Pull Ups

In this article you will learn about front lever pull ups – what they are, how to perform them and whether you may wish to add them to your exercise routine.

Front Lever Pull Ups Explained

The front lever pull up is a variation of pull up in which the individual’s body is raised and lowered from the bar in an inverted hang until the body is completely horizontal and rigidly straight, the front of the body facing upwards.

In order to perform the front lever pull up follow these steps:

  1. Place the hands face down around the bar with the palm facing forwards
  2. Hang down from the bar at arm’s length
  3. Raise the legs so that your entire body, including the legs, are pointing in a straight line which runs parallel to the ground
  4. In this position, pull yourself upwards as close to the bar as possible.
  5. Slowly and carefully lower back down
  6. Repeat for desired number of reps

This YouTube video demonstrates the required technique for performing a front lever pull up:

There are a number of variations of the the front lever pull up which can also be attempted:

  • Tuck front lever
  • Advanced tuck front lever
  • Single leg front lever
  • Straddle front lever
  • Full front lever
  • One arm front lever

The front lever is an excellent pull up if you want to develop great core strength and strong lats.

Experts suggest that it will take around 6 months to really master the maneuver as it requires a great deal of shoulder and core body strength that takes dedicated and consistent training to develop.

Some of the variations of the front lever pull up named above are useful to practice as a form of progression up to mastering the more difficult front lever.

What Does the Front Lever Work?

The front lever pull up places the majority of the work on the muscles of the back, with it estimated that the muscles in this area do around 70% of the required work and the core muscles the other 30%.

Specifically, the front lever primarily targets the latissimus dorsi (lats) muscles.

However, it also provides a great workout for a whole range of muscles in the rest of the body, including:

  • Abs
  • Biceps
  • Calves
  • Chest
  • Finger Flexors
  • Forearms
  • Glutes
  • Groin
  • Hamstrings
  • Obliques
  • Pectoralis Major and Minor
  • Posterior Deltoids
  • Quadriceps
  • Rhomboid
  • Serratus Anterior
  • Shoulders
  • Teres Minor
  • Triceps
  • Wrist Flexors

Is Front Lever or Back Lever Harder?

Most people tend to agree that the front lever is a harder exercise to perform than the back lever. The major difference in the two exercises is the role of the shoulders.

To perform the back lever successfully requires great shoulder flexibility and mobility.

However, being in the position required of back lever means that a greater load can be placed on the lats, with them taking more of the strain of holding the individual in position than the arms have to in the front lever position.

By contrast, the front lever position requires a great degree of shoulder extension, with the individual needing to pull their shoulders in a downward motion in order to successfully lift their body.

Rather than mobility, as is required in the back lever, this requires a great deal of strength.

It also places much of the load on the arms without any great degree of support from the lats, as is available in the back lever.

Given these contrasting features of the two exercises most people agree that the front lever is harder to master, with its lesser requirement of strength and shoulder mobility.

As with anything though, this depends on the individual concerned and their own individual strengths and weaknesses.

How Do You Do a Front Lever?

The following steps outline how to successfully perform a front lever pull up:

  1. Place your hands face down around the exercise bar, ensuring that the palm of your hand is facing forwards away from your face
  2. Gently hang from the bar at arm’s length
  3. When ready to begin your first rep, raise your legs with your feet pointed so that your entire body, including the legs, is pointed in a straight line. Your body should be position parallel to the ground
  4. Once in this straight bodied position, pull yourself upwards so that you become as close to the bar as possible
  5. After reaching as close to the bar as you are able slowly and carefully lower yourself back down
  6. Repeat this process for the desired number of repetitions


Hopefully you now know much more about front lever pull ups.

In this article we have learned:

  • What a front lever pull up is and the technique for performing one successfully
  • Some of the variations on the front lever pull up
  • What muscles the front lever pull up works
  • That the front lever pull up is generally considered harder than the back lever pull up