Yola’s Back to Basics: Toes to Bar

Toes to bar. Toes2bar. T2B. King of legraises. Some of you might know this exercise from crossfit but in fact it’s an allround gymnastics exercise. It gives strength, flexibility and power at the same time. It might look difficult but believe me when I tell you that practice makes perfect. Anyone that has a bar around can try this exercise. Make those abs burnnnn!

This move is really dynamic. Strenght, endurance and flexibility are all wrapped up in one exercise. It asks quite some coordination from your muscles, especially your core, arms and shoulders. The main muscle worked is your rectus abdominis (also known as ‘the six-pack muscle”). Also the hip flexors are being worked when swinging those legs up. And last but not least, your chest, back and shoulders are engaged because… well, you’re hanging with full body weight above the ground so gravity will do its job!

How to
Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, wrapping your thumbs for a secure grip because when you kick your feet up you don’t want to hit your hands.

Squeeze both your butt and abs, creating a “hollow-body” position (like a C) where your feet are slightly in front of your torso. With these muscles flexed your body’s ready to swing.

Kipping is about taking your body from the hollow position to an arc or superman position. Open your shoulders, squeeze your butt, then drive with your hips.

Going up
To transition from backswing to upswing, simply drive your knees toward your elbows, then extend your legs, kicking your feet toward the bar as they rise.

Coming back down
As soon as your toes touched the bar, pull back into an arc and squeeze your butt to load your hips for the next rep.


✓ Use some chalk or grip-gloves when doing toes to bar for a better and safer grip

✓ Find a rhythm that works for you

✓ Keep in control of the movement, also on the way down. Don’t let those legs crash down when you touched the bar

Absolute don’ts
✗ If you feel strain upon your shoulders/back rest for a few seconds and let go of the bar. Your full bodyweight is hanging on it and we don’t want you to dislocate your shoulder

✗ You don’t have to be like the crossfit athletes touching the bar 18386 times a minute. We’re not at a throwdown, just take it easy! Start with one, come back down, rest a few seconds and do another one. If you manage to do this and you feel like not needing to rest in between then try making sets with 5 or 10 toes to bar. And always remember: form over speed!

✗ Don’t do toes to bar on a bar that has no decent grip or is too big for your grip. You hands will become sweaty and you will slide off for sure. Not good..that exercise is called face-to-floor and you can only do it once

Knees to elbow
When you can’t bring your toes all the way up yet, start with knees to elbow. It’s the same movement except that you don’t stretch out your legs. Like it says: touch your elbows with your knees or bring them as close as possible

Toes to ring
If you happen to be around rings, use them! You can do toes to bar perfectly with rings. Just hold the rings tight and make a swing while kipping your legs up so your toes touch the rings. I find this one easier than toes to bar because the rings give you a ‘natural swing’ so you can just go with the flow.

Toes to bar pushup
When you want to add some training elements to you toes to bar you can do them with a pushup in between. As soon as you did a toes to bar and you land back on the ground: go down, kick your feet back and do a push up. When you come back up from the push up immediately jump back to the bar to do a toes to bar. You can do this as a count up. 1 toestobar – 1 push up | 2 toestobar – 2 push ups | 3 toes to bar – 3 push ups etc.

I can’t help myself. I just LOVE this exercise. And I’m sure you guys will too! Go find a bar and try them. That can be at a crossfitbox but also at a playground, at a school or any other decent bar that’s high enough and has a firm grip will do. Let’s swing it!

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  1. Roos

    Hahaha the face-to-floor made me laugh! Great article Yola! x