3 Progressions for the Elbow Lever (Video)

Elbow Lever Tutorial:

The Elbow Lever Tutorial is a great exercise for strengthening your upper body muscles. You can use it as a warm up before doing other exercises like push ups or pull ups.

If you are looking for more advanced forearm training then try our free forearm workout program!

Benefits of the Elbow Lever:

Strengthens your grip and wrist strength. Strengthens your shoulder girdle.

Improves balance and coordination. Helps with hand/arm pain. Increases range of motion.

How to do the Elbow Lever:

Stand facing away from a wall with your feet apart and hands at waist level. Bend your knees slightly so that your toes point towards the wall and keep them there while keeping your back straight.

Keep both arms straight out in front of you, fingers pointing forward, palms down, and shoulders back. Your elbows should be bent at 90 degrees. Keeping your chest high and head down, slowly lower yourself until your forearms touch the floor. Repeat 10 times.


You can perform the elbow lever with a partner or without one. Try to maintain balance between both legs during the movement.

You can also do it standing up instead of lying down on the ground.

3 Progressions for the Elbow Lever (Video) - at GYMFITWORKOUT

Elbow lever tips:

Try not to let your shoulders shrug up towards your ears or twist. Keep everything nice and aligned.

It can be helpful to imagine there is a string attached from your head to the ceiling holding it straight. Don’t rush through this exercise, make sure you perform it slow and controlled. If at first you don’t get very low then keep practicing.

Elbow lever vs planche:

The elbow lever is a good starting exercise to practice your balance and build up strength for the planche. The planche is a much more difficult movement than the elbow lever and requires more strength.

3 Progressions for the Elbow Lever (Video):

For the Elbow Lever you want to perform 3 different exercises that will each help you progress to that final move.

Perform this exercise in front of a wall. While you don’t want to fully rely on it should you fall, it’s still best to have something solid behind you.

3 Progressions for the Elbow Lever (Video) - gym fit workout

This first exercise works on your balance and also your strength. To perform this, stand about a foot away from the wall with your feet together and your arms up over your head with your palms pressed against the wall. From there slowly lean forward and lower your upper body while keeping your arms straight and in contact with the wall. Try to get straight down onto your forearms, then slowly push yourself back up. Aim to do at least 5 repetitions.

For this exercise you’re going to start in a kneeling position with your arms over your head and palms on the floor in front of you. From there you’re going to rock backwards and go into an elbow lever.

Try to get your hips up as high as you can and then slowly lower yourself down.

Another great way to work on your elbow lever is to do it against a wall. Stand with your back to a wall about a foot away and then slide down until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle.

Hold that position for about 30 seconds and then slowly lift yourself back up. Repeat that at least 5 times. As you get stronger you can work your way up to holding the position for a full minute without breaking.

Once you feel pretty confident and you think you can hold the lever position for at least 15 seconds you can take the next step.

The Planche

The planche is one of those classic moves that tests your strength, balance, and overall body control. Its not only looks impressive but its a very functional move that has real-world applications.

This is also a move where having a training partner can really help you understand what you need to be doing and help spot you so you don’t get hurt. If you don’t have a partner then get a few books or DVDs with Planche exercises and techniques.

There are many of them out there so look around and find the one that works best for you.

The main thing that everyone needs to work on is their strength. Most people that can’t do a planche just aren’t strong enough to hold the position.

So, get to it!

3 Progressions for the Elbow Lever (Video) - Picture

A few things to remember when performing this exercise are:

Don’t rush through it, you want to take your time and build up your strength slowly but surely. Rushing will only lead to an injury.

Stay focused and really concentrate on what you’re doing. The more you focus the less your body will want to wobble and give out.

Don’t lock your legs, keep them slightly bent at the knee. This will keep you from putting all your weight on your arms which can tire them out pretty quickly.

Get your hips up as high as you can, this will take some of the pressure off your arms and also build up your strength in that way as well.

Sources & references used in this article:

The dynamics of quadrupedal locomotion by MG Pandy, V Kumar, N Berme, KJ Waldron – 1988 – asmedigitalcollection.asme.org

A progression of static equilibrium laboratory exercises by M Kutzner, A Kutzner – 2013 – aapt.scitation.org

Arthrodesis of the elbow with two locking compression plates by IJ Galley, GI Bain, JC Stanley… – … in Shoulder & Elbow …, 2007 – journals.lww.com

Improvement in comfort and function after cuff repair without acromioplasty. by …, SB Lippitt, FA Matsen III – Clinical Orthopaedics and …, 2001 – journals.lww.com

The efficacy of the floor-reaction ankle-foot orthosis in children with cerebral palsy by BM Rogozinski, JR Davids, RB Davis III, GG Jameson… – JBJS, 2009 – journals.lww.com