So , I've been having these issues for a while now and did a little research on that across the internet. Surprisingly I've found a quite a bit related topics though haven't really found a good advice/answer due lack of information. These issues I'm about to point out here also varies from person to person and that's why I've decided to make a new clear topic with as many details provided as I can provide. This is my story;

/Quick bio I'm 19 years old guy who has been doing street workout for about 1 year or so. I would consider myself as an intermediate since I am able to perform a couple of really clean muscle-ups and varieties of front lever progressions. I have been exercising since I was like 16, but started doing "elements" a year ago. So in summer 2016 I had started my sw-story by doing various progressions for front lever , one arm pull-up, planche and muscle up. After 3 months of working out like this and managing to do one-leg front lever and really "broken" muscle up , I've seen it won't get me anywhere and also my first year of college was about to start so I got back into doing regular pull-ups and push-ups till the beginning of this summer ( 2017. ).

Now I've got a different look at progression itself. I have decided that I'm gonna dedicate myself into only one progression until I master it and then I would continue doing other as well by the same routine.

So 1 month ago, I've decided I'm gonna stick to front lever only . It started well. I had some pain in my right shoulder from doing wide pull-ups which passed really quickly by ignoring the pain and doing pull-ups despite it. I also had some pain in my right tricep which also passed quickly also by ignoring it . Weird way of getting rid of pain in muscles, but it had worked for me. Now we come to my real issue which is the reason I wrote all of this. I also had pain in my lats from doing fl progressions which i also get rid of using the same "technique".

Quick look at my current workout sessions:

Day 1 - whole day doing fl progressions

Day 2 - other street workout exercises excluding dips

Repeat until Sunday . Start again in Monday.

I've been getting this mid-back pain after doing any FL progression. I had it before as well, but the pain would usually appear at the end of workout and it wouldn't be so strong. I used to do one-leg fl for as many times as I could and wouldn't feel anything. I wish I could say the same thing now. Pain occurs directly after any progression and it is pretty strong . Last for a couple of seconds and sometimes it feels like I can't breathe. It's located in my middle back area, mostly right around the spine. Pain started getting pretty strong about a week ago and follows me since. Pain also occurs at the very beginning of workout after first fl exercise and increasingly getting stronger after each fl exercise .

I am able to do advanced tuck fl , one-leg fl, one-leg fl switching legs for 10 about reps and slightly-bad-form straddle fl holding for 2-3 sec.

Most of the advices I found on the internet were to stop doing it for a while / forever . The thing is ; I don't really want to stop doing , even for a while like for a week or longer. This is my current goal and I would be extremely disappointed if I had to stop. I also found that it could be the result of doing fl with "arched" back ( bad form ), though I feel that my holds are pretty decent in that sense since I recorded myself tons of time and asked my s-w buddies to criticize my holds.

Any help/comfort ?

  • Are you doing a valsalva through the whole thing? Levers (as the name implies) put tremendous loads on your torso/abs/back/shoulders. Not sure if you've ever deadlifted or been trained in weight lifting but a lot of the same principles apply. You need to be at full isometric lockout of your abs and back. Maybe something else is up, but definitely have this dialed in. – Eric Aug 23 '17 at 21:38
  • First time I'm hearing of this "valsalva" . Honestly , I have never payed attention to my breathing throughout any of fl exercises . I will definitely look it up more closely though I seriously doubt it could be the cause of my back pain. – James Groon Aug 23 '17 at 21:55
  • Isometrically locking your back and abs into a neutral spinal position, which is aided by valsalva is the number one way to avoid back injury during movements like what you're doing. Ditto for the deadlift and squat. At a basic level you can hold a lot more weight in the air than you'd be able to push into the same position. If you have wet noodle back/abs (we're talking about even an inch of movement) it could easily be the problem. – Eric Aug 24 '17 at 22:53
  • Well it does make sense in one way . The thing i dont understand is how to apply it when u hold fl for 5-6 sec or longer . I mean , u must breathe if u hold it longer. – James Groon Aug 26 '17 at 12:33
  • I'm not sure what you are asking here, are you asking us why you are having this pain and what to do to stop it? – JohnP Apr 29 '19 at 13:58

This is going to be a long one.

First of all I would like to know what kind of exercises you do to train for a front lever. The problem might be that you're taking steps that are too big to get where you want to be. A front lever is quite advanced, can you do multiple sets of strict pull-ups? With your scapula retracted? Can you hold an L-sit for atleast 10 seconds for multiple tries? Can you do a handstand? (without assistance)

The reason I'm asking these things is because in order to do a front lever, you need to be able to control every muscle in the body that is required for a front lever. If you have lower back pains, I assume you either don't have enough power in your core OR you don't know how to use it properly. Don't worry about this, I guarantee you that 80%+ of people in the gym don't know how to engage their core properly, they only know how to do crunches.

I would advice you to learn a proper handstand before going into more difficult exercises, because you need to be able to control core to do a handstand. This will help you in ALL other calisthenics movements.

The same goes for strict pull-ups. During a front lever, you need scapular retraction. If you can't do this, work on this before you try implementing it into a front lever. You can do scapula pull-ups, after that full pull-ups with retracted scapula and after that incorporate it in your front lever training.

Once you can do all these exercises, you want to start trying tuck front lever, and film yourself from the side. The most important thing in the tuck front lever is that your upper body is straight. As long as your upperbody isn't straight during a tuck front lever, don't progress into advanced tuck.

Once you can do this, do the same in advanced tuck. Don't move to the next step untill you can do the previous step perfectly. If you move into the next step to soon, you'll guaranteed have bad form, which will result in possible injuries.

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