One of the most efficient ways to learn a movement is by doing it in reverse. Training the eccentric portion of a movement can help you have better control and stability, while at the same time maximizing proper activation.
Let’s take the Front Lever as an example. The eccentric phase is easier to control, which means that you can begin using this training method even if you aren’t able to hold that perfect full front lever yet. If you are someone who has trouble advancing in progressions, it’s highly recommended that eccentrics are incorporated in your training so that you can begin mastering the full range of motion of the skill of choice.
A great example is the advanced tuck Front Lever on the rings. Doing the eccentric portion on the rings will allow you to control the movement, making it easier to maintain proper form as a beginner athlete. This exercise can be highly beneficial in improving retraction strength. Focus on always maintaining the chest out proudly as you lower down into the hanging position and aim for 3-5 solid controlled repetitions.
If you’re looking to unlock the half-lay, doing controlled negatives on the rings or bar will greatly speed up your progress. The half-lay variation is highly important as it’s only a step before the full Front Lever, so it’s vital that we master it first before moving into the final progression. Again, the goal with this exercise is to maintain full retraction at all times and keep our glutes/core engaged so that we stay in perfect alignment throughout the exercise. Aim for 3-5 controlled reps.
One of our favorite ways to train towards the full Front Lever is by combining a candlestick hip thrust with a slow, controlled front lever negative. This variation will be highly beneficial to build the necessary core strength required for the Front Lever, and paired with the full negative it’s the perfect exercise for an intermediate athlete looking to bust through plateau to unlock the full variation. Advanced level athletes can also use this method to sharpen their Front Lever game.
One final combination that we want to touch on are the negative drop sets. For this combination, the athlete starts with the most challenging variation of the skill (in this case the full front lever) and regresses to an easier variation on each rep. This combination allows us to still maintain perfect form even as fatigue sets in, since we are lowering the intensity of the movement on each consecutive rep.
The optimal time to train the eccentric movement will be after our main static work and strength sets. Since the eccentrics are easier to perform, we should always work on them later in our training session. Fatigue can accumulate quickly through eccentrics, so it’s vital that the athlete does not train them at the start of the workout.
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