Today, I'm going to help fix your toes-to-bar. So if you're someone who's struggling to string together unbroken sets of kipping toes to bar, then I'm here to help.
For many people, especially beginners, toes-to-bar can be a challenging exercise to master. It requires a lot of core strength and flexibility, so I’m going to take you step-by-step through 3 different ways that can help you achieve your first TTB. Let me introduce you to what I call ‘Toes to Target’, which is a natural scale of the toes-to-bar exercise, making it a great place to start for those who want to nail this movement.
Why Practicing Toes to Target Progressions Helps You Get TTB?
The problem that I see with people who attempt unbroken kipping toes-to-bar is that a lot of times, when they get their toes all the way to the bar, it causes them to swing back and forth between reps into what I call a ‘death swing’ or a ‘Tarzan swing’.
They can technically do one, maybe another couple, but it's inefficient. It's not a good method to use for kipping toes-to-bar because they’re wasting energy and grip strength with unnecessary swings between reps.
We should just be able to cycle through the reps while remaining controlled underneath the bar.
The reason you see that death swing, or Tarzan swing, is because the target where you're hitting your toes (the bar) is a little too high for your ability levels.
If every time I get my toes to the bar, it results in a death swing or a Tarzan swing, what we can do to try to fix that is to reduce the range of motion (ROM).
REDUCE ROM 1: J-HOOKS METHOD
I have a few different pieces of equipment that you could use, but for the first and simplest method, we’re going to use J-hooks.
Start out by putting the hooks at the highest setting possible on your rig, then take a band and put it across the J-hooks.
Now when you attempt your toes-to-bar, use the band as your new target. The angle won't actually allow you to touch your toes to it, but you should aim to hit your shins to the band with every single rep.
Rather than focusing on getting your toes to the bar, focus on getting that unbroken kip without the Tarzan swing.
This drill has simply reduced your ROM, but kept the same mechanics as the full movement.
This isn't my favorite method of reducing ROM because it's annoying; the band hits my face and has limited adjustability. I can lower it down, but then the band is way too close to my body.
So here's an alternative that I really like…
REDUCE ROM 2: SPOTTER ARMS METHOD
Spotter arms are a little apparatus that a lot of squat racks have, or you can source them to fit your rig if you don’t already have them.
The spotter arm method is similar to using the J-hooks drill above, except it allows you to put the target further away, which simulates that toe to bar a lot better.
Attach your spotter arms to the rig as high as possible, take the band, and put it towards the end of the spotter arm. I really like this because it allows me to keep excellent form. There's nothing hitting my face when I'm kipping, and I can adjust this infinitely to make it harder or easier.
If your kip still isn’t smooth, you can keep reducing the range of motion by lowering the spotter arms several rungs. You can do this until you have the perfect tactile cue. You have a target for your toes to hit every single time and keep a strong kipping form and get full toes-to-bar stimulus without having to change the movement to V-ups or knee raises.
One final way that we can adjust the target for toes-to-bar so that we can get phenomenal toes-to-bar practice is a tool that's been developed by a company that reached out to me...
REDUCE ROM 3: TINK TTB TOOL
A few years ago, Tink TTB Tool reached out to me and said, "Hey, we've developed the perfect toes-to-bar training tool." So I said, "Awesome, send it my way!" And I’m so glad they did.
Basically, what it does is it allows you to do everything that we've already talked about, with infinite amounts of micro-adjustments, essentially.
I can adjust the length, and I can adjust how far my target is away from the bar. I can also adjust the angle really easily.
You can also adjust the height so you can have it at bar height or below the bar, and I'll be able to hit the target every time without having to get my toes up to the pull-up bar.
What's cool about this tool is that they have a band that again gives you that tactile cue. I have a target that I'm hitting every single time rather than what I see a lot of people do is just doing a toe-to-bar to some imaginary height, then eventually they stop hitting the "target," but they keep counting the reps.
With these tactile cues, you have a very specific thing that you're aiming to hit every single time, and it gives you feedback because you can actually feel yourself hitting the target.
If I wanted to make it easier, I can angle it down and extend the apparatus farther out. The lower and farther it is away from the original toes-to-bar target, the easier it's going to be.
We covered a few different techniques that you can use to adjust your toes-to-bar target to practice doing unbroken TTB.
You might start at a low target, then eventually, as you get better, that target is going to move closer to the rig until you have a target that is probably a couple of inches away from the pull-up bar.
Eventually, you won't need a target at all because you'll be doing full unbroken toes-to-bar, and it will have been a seamless process!
If you would like a completely free toes-to-bar training guide where we go over all sorts of other intricacies when it comes to learning TTB, just click here.
Enter your name and email, and I'll send you the free toes-to-bar training guide!
Finally, if you're interested in the Tink TTB Tool, then click here! (Use code “WODprep10” for a discount)