T2B: Toes To Bar

By: Reuben Pearlman

T2B, or Toes to Bar, is an essential CrossFit movement. It is classified as a gymnastics movement, which I discussed briefly in last month’s article on the Muscle Up. Although T2B is fundamentally a simpler movement than the muscle up, it remains one that many of our athletes at CrossFit 718 struggle with.

To put it simply, a T2B is basically a leg raise performed by hanging from a pull-up bar. T2B not only places incredible demands on your core muscles, it also builds your grip, arm, and shoulder strength.

T2B comes in two main variations, the strict version and the kipping version.

Strict: Begin the movement from a hanging position on the bar. Your body should be in the hollow body position with shoulders glued to your ears. Then you want to pull your thighs towards your chest and swing toes toward the bar, keeping legs straight. Ascend legs until the toes touch the bar or pass through the arms, keeping the head in throughout entire movement. You should be in control of your lower body throughout, keeping your legs together the entire time.

Kipping: Perform a kipping T2B by placing your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, wrapping your thumbs for a secure grip. You don’t want to lose your grip when you kick up your feet. Then, squeeze both your butt and abs, creating the hollow body position where your feet are slightly in front of your torso. With these muscles flexed, your body’s ready to swing. Next, kip. Kipping generates momentum, taking your body from the hollow position to an arc or superman position. Open your shoulders, squeeze your butt, and drive with your hips. To transition from backswing to upswing, simply drive your knees toward your elbows. Then extend your legs, kicking your feet toward the bar as they rise. As soon as your momentum toward the bar ends, pull back into an arc and squeeze your butt to load your hips for the next rep.[1]

Besides developing your pull-up strength, here are a few more tips to work on to help you build Games-worthy T2B:[2]

1.  Start at the floor.  Work on perfecting the hollow and “Superman” positions.  Staying tight in these positions will allow you to transfer more power into the bar so you can move more efficiently.

2.  Take those two positions and put them together on the pull-up bar.  Practice transitioning between the hollow and Superman positions and get into a rhythm to perfect your kip.  If you start to flop around, take a break and get back to it.

3.  Work on your grip strength.  If your grip is giving out, you’re not going to last long.  You need to work on specific grip strength on the pull-up bar.  Simply hanging from the bar for time – 30 seconds is a great place to start – can address a deficiency.

4.  Knees up.  Work on knees to elbows.  This is a remedial/scaled version of the exercise that’s great for people with mobility issues as well as folks who just want a way to make the exercise easier and work on developing core strength.

5.  Activate your lats.  When you come behind the bar at the top, focus on engaging the lats.  Push down on the bar and descend quickly.

6.  Work on small sets.  To develop your technique without ingraining bad habits, keep the reps low and focus on perfect form.  If you push until your form begins to break down/loosen up, or even until you fail a rep, you’re just making it harder on yourself in the long run.  Quality vs. quantity!

Still struggling with your T2B or simply looking for some extra work to develop this skill? Check out CrossFit 718’s T2B Workshop on November 15th!

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