3 Benefits of Toes to Bar

Core strength and abdominal training is often displayed by some of the top fitness and CrossFit® athletes. Many regional and CrossFit Games bound athletes (both men and women) tout some of the most impressive midsections the fitness industry as seen. When determining which movements are responsible for such a midline, one can start their abdominal journey at the toes to bar.

The benefits of core training are well documented, such as in my previous piece geared for weightlifters and fitness athletes. In summary, increased core strength can enhance spinal stability, rotational force production (sprinting, hitting, throwing), and can even enhance overall strength in movements such as the deadlift, squat, and press.

In this article we will take a deeper look at the toes to bar, specifically the kipping version often seen in most fitness and CrossFit competitions.

The Toes to Bar (Kipping)

Below is a quick video tutorial on how to perform the kipping toes to bar. This movement at first glance seems pretty straightforward, but I assure you the complexities of synchronized contractions, fluidity in the movement, and even increased demand placed on the body due to high degrees of range of motion will prove otherwise.

1. Increased Muscular Demands 

In short, the toes to bar movement involves a lifter going from a slightly hyper-extended position with the hips and shoulders open to a full contracted position at the top. The fullest of ranges of motion require great amounts of muscle strength, control, and coordination. With the added component of momentum and speed due to the kip, high amounts of energy must also be spent during the eccentric portion of the exercise to ensure proper reloading of the legs and hips for the next repetition. Additionally, the lifter must lift greater amounts of body mass (load), which even with momentum of a kip, which can lead to some serious muscle damage (hypertrophy) and results.

2. Improves Grip, Shoulder, and Back Strength

Hanging from a barbell while the body is in dynamic motion is a skill in itself. It requires great range of motion in the shoulder capsule, stability and control in the upper back and scapular regions, and high amounts of grip and arm strength to be able to support and control oneself during longer sets. The toes to bar (kipping) challenges many of the supportive muscles in the upper body and hips, often increasing their overall performance and strength. By increasing supporting muscles of the body that aid in the toes to bar movement, the lifter can often target a larger amount of muscle mass in the serratus, hip flexors, and obliques, and upper/lower abs.

3. More Efficient than Endless Sit Ups

If you have ever heard of someone doing (or even done yourself) a million crunches to unlock that sixer, you know that endless volume is not the best approach for overall development and results. Due to the above benefits of toes to bar, the toes to bar movement requires less repetitions to be performed to have a similar benefit to endless crunches and sit ups. This often results in less time training core and more results, which is a win win for all of us. By enhancing the complexities and muscular demands of core training you can train more effectively and efficiently to optimize results.

Carve a Better Core

Looking to carve some serious midsection muscle? Look no further than some of our top core training articles below!

Featured Image: @thebaraides on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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