Why: Toes to bar and knees to elbows are more than just core movements—they work your shoulder strength/stability, grip strength, and even your cardiovascular endurance if the WOD calls for high volume repetitions. And proficiency in these two gymnastic movements is useful—not only because they’re common movements in CrossFit-style WODs.
Set-Up: Start in a full hang position on the pull-up bar with your arms fully extended and feet off the ground. Your hands should be just outside shoulder-width. Get a full grip on the bar.
Execution: Initiate the swing from the shoulders. Alternate between the arched position and hollow positions. Lift your feet up when you’re in the hollow position while you simultaneously push down on the bar with straight arms. For toes to bar, make contact with both feet, at the same time, on the bar between your hands. For knees to elbows, make contact with both knees, at the same time, on the elbows. (If the WOD calls for the strict variation of these movements, get rid of the kipping swing.)
Points of Performance: To get a “good rep,” ensure the following:
– You start in a full hang position with your arms extended and feet behind the bar
– Toes to bar: both feet touch the bar between your hands at the same time
– Knees to elbows: both elbows touch the knees at the same time
Pro-Tip: Knees to elbows and toes to bar tear your hands badly if you don’t have the proper grip on the bar. Carl Paoli, former gymnast and expert coach, suggests using a hook grip on the bar. This means your knuckles are on top of the bar and your thumb touches your pointer finger or middle finger. This robust grip allows your wrist—not your hands—to be the hinge for your kipping swing, thus eliminating much of the friction on the pull-up bar that causes tears. (Note: this hook grip is not the same kind of hook grip you’d use for barbell movements. The thumb goes on the outside of the fingers rather than under the fingers.)