Toes To Bar (T2B) can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. There’s nothing more frustrating than struggling with this CrossFit movement when you can perform every other gymnastic movement in your WOD effortlessly. It becomes even more soul-crushing, when your box mates can throw up their toes to the bar no problem without even trying, and you have to play catch up the entire time during your WOD.
As with most movements in CrossFit, toes-to-bar require coordination, core strength, good grip, hip-flexion, and endurance. Even if toes-to-bar is one of your strongest dynamic movements, maxing out your AMRAP with 20 reps a set, can be incredibly challenging. With a few simple steps, you can improve your speed, efficiency, and become the fearless leader of toe-toe-bars in your box.
How To Do Toes To Bar: 6 Step Progression
Your core is the foundation to most movements in CrossFit, and with toes-to-bar, your core is the all-encompassing epicenter. Core strength is vital to stabilizing your spine and generating force to initiate the movement. Without the proper core strength, toes-to-bar will be undoubtedly challenging.
Toes To Bar Progression Step 1: Incorporate More Accessory Work
Try working on your core strength every time you step into the box. Take an extra 15 minutes before your WOD and incorporate abs movements into your accessory work. You can build abdominal and core strength, with a multitude of different exercises such as hollow holds, planks, crunches, reverse crunches, jack-knifes, sit-ups, etc.
Toes To Bar Progression Step 2-3: Perfect Your Hollow Hold & Superman
Perfecting your hollow-hold will also incorporate more core strength and help you develop a solid foundation for more than just toes-to-bar. Hollow holds are a great exercise that will teach you how to maintain a posterior pelvic tilt. By perfecting this movement, you’ll notice greater gains in speed, power, deadlifting, squatting, and even your handstands.
How To Hollow Hold
- Contract your abdomen and imagine that a hook is attached to your belly button pulling it down towards the floor and tilt your hips backward.
- Make sure your lower back is always touching the ground
- Keep your abs and glutes contracted
- Raise your legs, shoulders, and hands up towards the ceiling and ensure your lower back is in contact with the ground.
- Try to keep your ears in alignment with your shoulders as your head raises.
- Slowly, lower your legs and hands towards the floor without arching your lower back and once you’ve found a comfortable distance.
Supermans are essentially the same movement, in reverse. People tend to forget, that your core also is a circumferential term, meaning that your back muscles are also incorporated into your core. Supermans are great for strengthening your lower and upper back while tightening your glutes.
How To Superman Hold
- Contract your glutes, traps, and lower back and imagine that same hook is pulling your abdomen toward the ground.
- Raise your arms and feet off the floor, keeping your core flat on the ground.
- Hold the raised position for three seconds, while contracting your back, and glute muscles and then lower your arms and feet back to the floor.
Toes To Bar Progression Step 4: The Kip
Toes-to-bar is about momentum and timing. Developing a firm and efficient kipping motion will help you get better at performing toes-to-bar. More often times than not, thoracic mobility can get in the way of opening a solid kip. If you have trouble with kipping and feel like your flexion and extension is rigid, then try and practice the first stage of the movement, by actively opening and closing your shoulders so that your body breaks the plane of the bar. Often referred to as the “C’s and the D’s” due to the shape your body takes in front and behind the bar, imagine that your arms are a window. As you swing forward and back, pop through both sides of the imaginary window as you open and close your shoulders.
Toes To Bar Progression Step 5: Practice With Straight Legs
Getting your knees to your elbows and the kick and return is 90% of the entire movement. But instead of looking at toes-to-bar as separate entities it's important to develop the full skill and practice using straight legs. By training to get your legs straight to the bar, your forced to train with full compression. This can be a great technical skill to incorporate into your everyday training, especially for more advanced athletes, as it will develop better form, core strength, and stamina. If you’re doing toes-to-bar at a high-volume during your WOD, then practicing with straight legs, will make it more efficient when you bend your knees during competition.
Toes To Bar Progression Step 6: Get A Grip
Performing toes-to-bar in small sets will help you develop the core strength, grip, and foundation to perform at high-volumes. If the difficulty is in actually gripping the bar, then try hanging on the bar for 30-second intervals. This will help you develop the grip strength to hold yourself during the movement. Also, make sure that your grip is slightly wider than your shoulders. A wider grip means ensures that your feet will travel a shorter distance, and creates a dynamic tension in your shoulder mobility.
If you already crush your toes-to-bar, then you might want to consider investing in some hand grips. The last thing you want is to rip and tear your hands during a competition, so you can suffer in agony throughout the remainder of your WOD. Grips come down to preference, and with so many grips on the market, I highly suggest reading the related article below to find what's right for you.
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