When we start CrossFit, we all have our list of movement goals. Whether it’s a heavy press, a strict pull up, a double under—we all subconsciously work toward the skills we desperately want to accomplish until we can check it off and move onto the next.

For me, my first goal was a snatch! I couldn’t wait to figure out how to do what those strong girls were doing with a barbell. Soon after, it became a kipping pull up, then a heavy back squat, then consistent dubs, and so on and so on. But as we begin hitting those more popular movements and have earned a few feel good PRs, new movements begin to enter our radar—the more complex ones that nobody is really thinking about until you have no choice but to think about it.

One of those movements being “Toes to Bar”—and not just doing them, but doing them well.

Toes to Bar isn’t something we focus on too much when we’re new to CrossFit because it takes time to build up the core strength and coordination to pull them off. But when you’ve been hitting the gym pretty consistently and you’re feeling good, a lot of us might think, “Okay, those things don’t look too hard now.” And then, we get silently destroyed by a MetCon with 3 rounds of twelve in each.

It’s a very complex move that you might think has a lot to do with your toes and legs, when really—it’s heavy on the core, the shoulders, and your grip.

So first and foremost, to get Toes to Bar, we MUST stop swinging around like monkeys on the bar and focus on the proper scales. Here is a five step progression to getting your toes to bar and tips to maximize on each scale!

  • Some of us can touch our toes to the bar, and yes, that’s technically a rep, but if you’re not activating your shoulders properly, this isn’t helping you do Toes to Bar efficiently and could actually lead to an injury! Even if you have one decent Toes to Bar rep, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by trying to painfully accomplish ugly singles if you’re in a workout with more than five or so in a row.
  • First scale: the age-old kip swing. This is the superman and hollow rock floor exercise transferred to the pull-up bar. With your grip about shoulder-width apart, focus on keeping your entire core tight and use your shoulders to swing forward into a superman and backward into a hollow rock. Start small. Keep it tight.
  • Second scale: kipping levers. This is just a kip swing with emphasis on the hollow rock. Core needs to stay tight here, and you’re going to try pushing down on the bar and activating your lats to get a bit higher in the hollow position.
  • Third scale: kipping knee raises. You’re going to keep activating the shoulders and lats as you swing, continuing to elevate higher in the hollow position, but now you’re adding in a knee raise to get your legs ready.
  • Fourth scale: kipping knee raises on steroids. Keep swinging. Keep everything tight and activated. But this time, bring your knees as high and as close to your chest as you can get them.
  • Fifth scale: Do the dang thing! If you’ve mastered the kipping knee raises on steroids, all you have left is to TAP your toes to the bar. A simple “tap” or “flick” of the toes and you’ve got it. It’s important to remember to push down on the bar as your toes are touching it and give yourself a strong descent back into the arching superman swing.

The key here is to not let our egos get in the way. To check off one of your movement goals safely and efficiently, the best thing to do is follow the proper scaling progressions. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much faster and BETTER you crush each movement going forward.

Now, let’s get those toes to the bar!

About the Author

As a CrossFit Trainer & Content Writer at Solstice, Megan brings our experiences to life with her words. She strives to be a voice for the community, offering inspiration and advice for all our readers.