Elbow Lever Tutorial

Elbow Lever Tutorial

Intro:

The Elbow Lever is one of the first and easiest hand balancing skills you will learn. The great thing about this skill is that it is fairly low level, yet still looks aesthetically very cool, so it is fun to do. Despite this, however, it still may take some time to develop, so do not be disheartened if you don’t get it immediately.

In terms of strength requirements or prerequisites for this skill, the only things I would recommend is that you are training the Crow pose (here) at the same time and are proficient in hollow and arch holds (here) before you start this.

Mobility:

The two main aspects of mobility necessary for this movement is adequate wrist flexibility and ‘external shoulder rotation’. If you do not have the necessary wrist flexibility, the following stretches should be done as a warm-up before every work-out in order to build the stability and range of motion safely over time until you can comfortably get over 90 degrees of wrist extension.

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Lean until you reach the end of your comfortable range of motion and hold for 30-60 seconds each

If you do not have the necessary external rotation, the following stretch should help.

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Put your elbow on one side of a bar, and wrap your fingers around the other side, then slowly twist away until you reach your end range of motion. 30-60s holds

How to do the Elbow Lever:

The Elbow lever is performed with hands placed shoulder width on the floor in front of you, pointing towards you, like so:

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You will then lean forward and ‘plant’ your elbows into your abdomen just inside your hip bone (as shown)

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From this positioning, maybe people will try to jump into the lever. This won’t work. If your feet are on the ground that means your centre of gravity is already shifted onto that side, so in order to get up, all you need to do is shift your centre of gravity of your hands by leaning forward.

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As you lean forward, you need to essentially do an arch hold, in order to bring your legs off the floor and keep them off, because if you do not keep a rigid, slightly arched position, you can lean forward all you want and your legs will stay on the floor because your hips will hinge to compensate the same amount to keep your exactly legs where they are.

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The primary way of balancing in this position is by hinging, like a lever, at the elbow (surprise!). If you straighten your arms more you will tilt backwards, and if you bend your arms you will tilt forwards more.

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Modifications:

If you are really struggling with that, you can try practising on a box. This makes it easier because you can learn to balance with your feet below parallel and gradually extend upwards until you are flat and can do it on the floor.

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If you are finding it quite easy, try doing it on a straight bar, or even gymnastic rings! Both of these add a silly amount of instability that make it not only much harder but look rightly more impressive. Typically I’d advise being able to do one on the floor for at least 30 seconds before going onto the straight bar, and about 60 seconds before going on the rings.

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2 thoughts on “Elbow Lever Tutorial

  1. Constantin

    Hey Nicholas! I just came across your website when I was searching for elbow lever tutorials. First of all: Thank your for your tutorials, they are great! 🙂

    But unfortunately I just can’t do the elbow lever. I am quite fit, doing push ups, pull ups and stuff and even training on the rings.
    But every time I try to lean forward into the position I just can’t lift my legs. When I put my body on my elbows, they don’t reach the lower but more the upper abdomen like rather close to the chest. So could it be that my arms are just too short? Because I really don’t think I lack the strength to hold it…

    Hope you can help me!

    Thanks,
    Constantin

  2. Constantin

    Somehow my first comment did not manage to show up here…

    Thank you Nicholas for your great blog! I find it very helpful and informative!

    Unfortunately I can’t do the elbow lever and I don’t know why. I don’t think I lack the strength of holding this position, because I am training push ups, pull ups, rings etc. . Could it be that my arms are too short? Because when I rest my upper body on the forearms, the elbows just reach the upper part of my abdomen, rather close to the chest. So may that be a problem? Or am I just bad in balancing my weight?

    I hope you can help me this. It really kills me not to know, where the problem is…

    Thanks,

    Constantin

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