TOES TO BAR

GYMNASTICS CLASS

I. CLASS OVERVIEW

"What is this class about?"

This class is designed to provide you with everything you need to know to better understand and perform the toes to bar.

 

This class covers each of the topics below:

  • About the Gymnastics Bar
  • Prerequisites
  • About the Toes to Bar
  • Flexibility
  • How To: Step by Step
  • “Do I need straight legs?”
  • Techniques: Speed vs. Efficiency
  • Drill 1: Floor Bar Toes to Bar
  • Drill 2: The Box Toes to Bar
  • Drill 3: The Evolving Toes to Bar
  • Drill 4: Toes to Bar to a Target

 

We have organized the class by creating individual videos for each topic, posting their accompanying notes and coaching tips below each video. This way, you will be able to go through each topic, listening to Kati's explanation and following along with her notes simultaneously.

Once you have gone through each topic-video and their notes, you will have a much better understanding of how to approach and train the toes to bar.


"Who is it for?"

This class is for both beginner and advanced athletes.

I help you break down the toes to bar in a very specific way, discussing physics, movement patterns, and gymnastics principles that many non-gymnasts are not aware of. Which means, no matter what your ability level is now, you will learn new concepts and tools that will expand your knowledge on the skill.

Beginner athletes will be able to use the information to build a strong foundation for a successful toes to bar career, while advanced athletes will be introduced to concepts that will help address and fix faults and improve performance.


"Where and how do I start?"

Education before practice: You need to first understand what what you want your body to do, before trying to "do it".

Gymnastics is a very mental sport, and you need to get that brain of yours engaged if you're going to be successful!

To best understand the information, I highly recommend you watch all the highlight videos in order, reading through all the accompanying notes (posted below each video), then taking time to process and make sure you understand everything we discussed.

STEP 1:
Watch the introduction video

STEP 2:
In order, watch each topic-related video and read through the notes

STEP 3:
Let the information digest and make sure you understand what you've covered before moving on to practice

STEP 4:
Head to the gym and give it a go!

II. INTRODUCTION

III. THE CLASS

1. Prerequisites needed

Coaching Notes

  1. 1:00 Active Hang
  2. 5 V-Ups
  3. 5 Swinging Kicks + Touch on Each Side

2. The gymnastics bar

Coaching Notes

Don’t get caught up on the different bar I’m using!

Yes, the gymnastics bars are fiberglass with a thicker diameter than metal bars you’ll find in functional fitness gyms, but as far as the technique for these toes to bar go, it won’t matter what bar you use, the information and execution is the same

3. Toes to bar overview

Coaching Notes

Despite what you may think, the Toes to Bar is a much simpler skill than you may realize. Yes, it takes a good amount of bodyweight strength and coordination, but with the right training strategy, you're going to be knocking these like like a pro.

When we scale the toes to bar back to its most basic concepts, it's essentially a highly exaggerated kip swing — We move through a big arch, and a big hollow. How is this important? We just figured out how to train! Start with regular kip swings, and as you're able to maintain your rhythm, grow your positions over time, until you find your toes hitting the bar. Boom!

4. Flexibility

Coaching Notes

Many new athletes get confused on how flexible they need to be to practice this “gymnastics” style of toes to bar — Not as much as you think!

Yes, being able to practice toes to bar safely requires adequate hamstring and lower body flexibility, but it’s DYNAMIC flexibility, which athletes find easier and much more comfortable

Static Flexibility: Lengthening the muscles by holding still positions

Dynamic Flexibility: Lengthening muscles in ‘short bursts’ using momentum and / or movement

If you stand up, bend down, and try to touch your toes, you may think, “Yeah right, I can’t even touch my toes, there’s no way I’ll be able to do toes to bar — You’re in luck. That’s a “static” stretch, that is way more challenging than the actual toes to bar. Instead, use a swinging-kick test.

Swinging kick test: Grab onto your rig for assistance, and stand on your right foot. Lift your left foot up, and start swinging it forwards and backwards, as high as you can go - kicks! If you can reach out with your left hand and tap your toes when kicking to the front, you can do (99% of the time!) swinging toes to bar! Repeat on the other side, too, of course.

This swinging kick test shows us if you have enough hamstring flexibility and compression enough to do a full toes to bar, because it simulates the range of motion we move through when lifting our toes to the bar to make contact

If you struggle to touch your toes during these kicks, we know that it’s time to spend more time stretching and mobilizing before attempting toes to bar!

5. How to: Step by step

Coaching Notes

  1. Begin directly under the bar
  2. Jump and catch the bar in a hollowed position
  3. Move into your tight arch
  4. As you swing backward, pull down on the bar to engage the lats and close the shoulder angle: The stronger lat pull you have, the closer you pull your body to the bar, the less distance your feet have to travel to make contact
  5. Tap your toes to the bar, then drive your heels back down to help maintain rhythm

6. Do you need straight legs?

Coaching Notes

The artistic gymnastics coach in me says, “Yes!”, but in reality, it all depends on what your goals are — If you’re in functional fitness, no, you don’t need straight legs, BUT, there is a reason why I demonstrate with straight legs, and encourage new athletes to practice with them

Why you should practice with straight legs #1: To challenge body awareness and mobility. If you train with straight legs, you’re going to expose weaknesses you may not have known were there, which means, you can address and fix them, helping to improve your overall toes to bar performance

Why you should practice with straight legs #2: To reinforce proper movement pattern and good habits! If you train with a focus on quality over quantity, you’re going to teach your body the best, safest, most efficient way to execute these skills. Then, when you’re in the middle of your hard-core workout and your performance naturally deteriorates, it’s going to fall from a really high level of quality, to a still “pretty high” level of quality. If you train with bent legs and don’t pay attention to your form or the details, you’re teaching your body to move at a mediocre level. And, the worst part? When you’re in the middle of that hard-core workout again, your level of quality / efficiency is going to deteriorate from an already mediocre level, to completely falling apart.

Train to the best of your ability during skill sessions, so your movement holds up through fatigue and during workouts.

7. Speed technique

Coaching Notes

  • Cycle through reps faster
  • Small range of motion / less swing
  • More reliant on strength
  • More energy exerted / faster fatigue
  • Less upper body mobility required
  • Ideal for sprint workouts with low reps

8. Efficiency technique

Coaching Notes

  • Cycle through reps slower, but more consistent
  • Bigger range of motion / more swing
  • More reliant on momentum, not as much on strength
  • Less energy exerted / prolonged fatigue
  • More upper body mobility required
  • Ideal for longer workouts with high reps

9. DRILL 1: Floor toes to bar

Coaching Notes

Helps teach and improve hamstring flexibility and you’re ability to compress the body so you can make full contact with the bar during the toes to bar, plus, strength gains in the core and hip flexors!

Grab a PVC pipe (or, broom / anything you have available) and lay down on the floor, arms extended overhead.

Keeping your legs straight, lift your legs in the air, pulling them all the way over head until they tap the floor behind your head.

10. DRILL 2: Box toes to bar

Coaching Notes

  1. Place your box on one side of the bar: I place it on my dominant (right) side
  2. Set your planted foot on the box, directly under the bar
  3. Hands grip at shoulder width, or slightly outside
  4. Thumbs wrapped around the bar
  5. Begin in a full extension under the bar, with your swinging leg hanging straight down
  6. Move through your mock "hollow and arch" starting positions to simulate jumping to the bar
  7. As you swing back, jump off the 'box-leg', pull down on the bar (closing your shoulder angle), and lift your 'free-leg' to the bar
  8. Drive your 'free-leg' heel back down, moving back into your tight arch position in front of the bar
  9. Use the leg on the box to control the speed and movement

11. DRILL 3: Evolving toes to bar

Coaching Notes

The most challenging part of the toes to bar (for most athletes) is understanding the rhythm of the swing, and connecting reps.

If we concluded the toes to bar are essentially exaggerated kip swings, we can begin by practicing kip swings, and slowly growing the size of your positions (hollow and arch) and swing over time, to 'evolve' into the full toes to bar.

Go slow, and only continue lifting your toes higher towards the bar if you can fluidly connect reps and maintain rhythm.

12. DRILL 4: Toes to a target

Coaching Notes

This drill builds off the evolving toes to bar drill, giving you a tangible target to touch with your toes, helping to maintain the speed and rhythm of the toes to bar.

Your partner will begin by holding a PVC pipe (or, anything you have available!) low and out in front of the bar. You will start with kip swings, making sure to focus on maintaining your rhythm and connecting reps.

As you’re able to fluidly connect reps and tap the PVC pipe, your partner will gradually lift the PVC pipe higher and higher (but, only a little at a time) as you’re able to still connect toes to bar — eventually working your way up to the bar!

If you lose your them and start to glide swing, dismount safely from the bar, re-set, and try again. Don’t reinforce bad technique and glide swinging!

IV. DRILL DEMOS

DRILL 1:
FLOOR TOES TO BAR

Helps teach and improve hamstring flexibility and you’re ability to compress the body so you can make full contact with the bar during the toes to bar, plus, strength gains in the core and hip flexors!

Grab a PVC pipe (or, broom / anything you have available) and lay down on the floor, arms extended overhead.

Keeping your legs straight, lift your legs in the air, pulling them all the way over head until they tap the floor behind your head.

DRILL 2:
BOX TOES TO BAR

1. Place your box on one side of the bar.

2. Set your planted foot on the box, directly under the bar.

3. Hands grip at shoulder width, or slightly outside. Thumbs wrapped around the bar.

4. Begin in a full extension under the bar, then move through your mock "hollow and arch" starting positions to simulate jumping to the bar.

5. Continue growing your kip swings (toes to bar) using your leg on the box to control the speed and movement.

DRILL 3:
EVOLVING TOES TO BAR

The most challenging part of the toes to bar (for most athletes) is understanding the rhythm of the swing, and connecting reps.

If we concluded the toes to bar are essentially exaggerated kip swings, we can begin by practicing kip swings, and slowly growing the size of your positions (hollow and arch) and swing over time, to 'evolve' into the full toes to bar.

Go slow, and only continue lifting your toes higher towards the bar if you can fluidly connect reps and maintain rhythm.

DRILL 4:
TOES TO A TARGET

This drill builds off the evolving toes to bar drill, giving you a tangible target to touch with your toes, helping to maintain the speed and rhythm of the toes to bar.

Your partner will begin by holding a PVC pipe (or, anything you have available!) low and out in front of the bar. You will start with kip swings, making sure to focus on maintaining your rhythm and connecting reps.

As you’re able to fluidly connect reps and tap the PVC pipe, your partner will gradually lift the PVC pipe higher and higher (but, only a little at a time) as you’re able to still connect toes to bar — eventually working your way up to the bar!

4-WEEK TRAINING PLAN

So, you made it through our entire class?
You watched each instructional video?
You read through all the coaching notes?


LET'S PUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE GAINS TO THE TEST!


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