7 Toes To Bar Alternatives (CrossFit Substitutes For No Bar)

Toes to bar exercises are a great way to work your whole body, but if you're injured, pregnant, or don't have access to a bar, then you're going to struggle. This could impact your training and leave you lagging behind in your fitness journey.  

But don't worry; we've made a list of the best toes to bar alternative exercises so you can slot them into your routine and stay on track with your training.  

If you’ve done CrossFit before, you'll be familiar with the toes to bar exercise that works your whole body. If you can't do this move or don't have the equipment, then there are some alternatives that mimic movement to get the same benefits.  

Some alternative exercises engage all the same muscle groups, whereas others break down the movement and focus on specific areas. It’s a good idea to mix up these exercises and create a routine for yourself which includes several of these substitutes:   

1. Knee or Leg Raises 

For this substitute exercise, you’ll need a chair to do a seated version at home, or a captain’s chair for a more challenging version in the gym. It's a great functional exercise that strengthens your core and legs in one move, helps to improve your grip strength, and gives you greater control over your whole body.

It’s an alternative move that’s safe to do throughout your pregnancy as long as you don’t overexert yourself. 

To perform a seated knee raise, start with your hands resting on the base of the chair and your back upright against the support. Keep your upper body still and raise your knees up until you feel your thighs come away from the seat slightly.

Pause for a second, and then lower your feet back down until they are about an inch off the floor. Try to keep your core engaged throughout and get the most benefit from this exercise.  

If you’re performing a leg raise in the gym on a captain’s chair, you’ll need to hold the handles and let your feet dangle in the air below you. Then, in a controlled motion, raise your legs up until they are horizontally level with your hips, pause for a second, and then lower them back down to starting position. Leg raises are tough for beginners, so you might need to start with a seated raise and build up to them. 

Garage Gym Pro Tip I love performing knee and leg raises on a power tower, or Captain's chair. The back pad will help you maintain control and stability while working out.

Related Article - Best Power Towers On The Market

Knee Or Leg Raises

2. Reverse Crunches 

Crunches are a great way to improve your core strength, and a reverse crunch gives you the same benefits while also engaging the rest of your body. This exercise is safe to do in the first trimester of pregnancy, but if you are further along, then you should consider some of the other activities on the list.  

Start by lying on your back with your hands at your sides, palms on the floor. Next, raise your legs and bend your knees so your thighs are perpendicular to the ground, engage your abs, and bring your knees into your chest, slightly raising your hips off the floor. Hold for a second and then slowly lower back down to starting position.

Garage Gym Pro Tip This exercise is great for adding to your ab workout routine. I like to superset it with cable crunches for a complete ab-burning experience.

Read Also - 9 Abs Exercises That You Can Do Anywhere

Reverse Crunches

3. Lying Toes To Kettlebell 

Not everyone has a bar at home, but it’s cheap and easy to pick up a kettlebell to use in workouts so you can perform this alternative exercise at home. This is one of the best ways to prepare for a toe to bar exercise as it repeats the exact same movement and strengthens all the same areas.

It’s suitable for those who are pregnant, but you may need to limit how far your stretch your lower body as you are later on in your pregnancy.  

To perform the exercise, start by lying on the floor with arms stretched out and a kettlebell in your hand acting as an anchor. Engage your core, tuck your knees in, and raise your hips to move your toes up over you towards the kettlebell. Hold for a second and then lower back down to the starting position.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip You might want to skip this exercise if you suffer from lower back pain. It can be tough on your spine to roll your back up off the floor.

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Lying Toes To Kettlebell

4. Lying Leg Raises 

This is a great exercise to build up your abdominals without any equipment. It’s a good choice for those with an injury because it's a natural movement, and it's safe for those who are pregnant for the first 20 weeks. After this point, you’re safer moving onto your side and performing a side plank leg raise which offers similar benefits.  

Start by lying with your back on the floor and your arms at your sides. In a controlled motion and keeping your legs straight, lift your legs up until they are pointing directly upwards. Pause for a second and then lower back down to starting position. Repeat for 8-12 reps. This exercise is useful for beginners, and you’ll quickly notice how your body becomes stronger if you perform it regularly. 

Garage Gym Pro Tip You can modify this exercise by doing only one leg at a time. You can also alternate your leg raises to do flutter kicks.

Lying Leg Raises

5.  Sideways Knee or Leg Raises 

A good way to build strong hips and thighs is through a sideways leg raise. This movement won’t put much strain on your body, and it’s a safe alternative for those who are pregnant. The exercise doesn’t engage your upper body as much, but you’ll notice it strengthening your core and improving your overall flexibility.  

Start by lying on your side on the floor with one leg on top of the other. Engage your core and raise the top leg from your hip so it’s a few inches away from your other leg. Pause for a second and lower it back down to starting position. Aim for 8-12 reps, and then switch sides to repeat the movement with your other leg.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip You can do this exercise basically anywhere, which I really appreciate. It's great for people on the go or traveling.

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Sideways Knee Or Leg Raises

6. V-Ups 

V-ups are an excellent alternative exercise that really works your core and activates muscles in your back, legs, and arms for a full-body workout. You don't need any equipment to perform them, but if you're pregnant, then it’s only safe to do V-ups in your first trimester, so if you're further along, then you should look at some other exercises on this list.   

To perform a V-up, start by lying with your back on the ground. Lift your legs, arms, head, and chest off the ground until you can reach your toes, creating a V shape. Pause for a second and then lower back to starting position.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip If you can't do a V-up, don't worry! You can start by rolling your knees into your chest.

V-Ups

7. Ab Pulse-Ups 

An effective variation on reverse crunches is the ab pulse up. This move puts most of the effort on your core and improves your overall stability and balance, making other movements easier. You can perform these in the first trimester of pregnancy, but after that, it's worth switching to a side plank where you pulse up and down.  

Start by lying on your back with your knees slightly bent and your hands tucked underneath your tailbone. Raise both legs up at once, tense your abs, and lift your hips until your glutes are off the ground. Pause for a second and then lower back down to starting position.  

Garage Gym Pro TipAb pulse-ups greatly improve stability by forcing you to use the correct form when raising your glutes off the ground. Try keeping your legs straight the whole time!

Ab Pulse-Ups

What Are Toes To Bar Alternative Exercises Good For?

Toe to bar alternatives are great for beginners and are safe for those who are pregnant or suffering from injury. They primarily work your core, activating your abdominal muscles and your lower back, but they will also work your shoulders, upper back, arms, and legs 

Alongside the muscle gains in these areas, you’ll also stretch out some of the smaller joints around your hips and shoulders to improve your stability. Plus, there’s minimal impact which makes the exercises well suited for recovery, and they're often used by athletes coming back from injury. 

These alternative exercises are easy enough for anyone to perform because they focus on simple, compound movements which engage a lot of different muscle groups. They work your core and improve flexibility which will benefit you in other workouts. You can also use weights to add resistance if you want to see greater gains.

The majority of these substitute exercises have no reliance on commercial gym equipment, so they’re perfect for anyone working out at home or away from a commercial gym.

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Toes To Bar (TTB) Alternative FAQs 

What are toes to bar good for?  

Toes to bar work your abdominals, hips, back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, and improve your grip strength to give you a full-body workout.  

Are toes to rings easier than toes to bar? 

Yes, they are regarded as slightly easier because you can use your body weight to build momentum and complete the movement.  

Why can’t I do toes to bar? 

This is generally because of a lack of strength or flexibility. Performing alternative exercises can help you improve in these areas until you’re able to perform a toes to bar exercise.

How can I learn strict toes to bar at home?  

Performing some of these alternative exercises will help you develop the necessary strength to perform a toe to bar exercise, but you can also practice by holding a pull up bar and slowly lowering yourself down to the floor so you can learn to manage your weight.

Once you feel comfortable, you can practice jumping up on the pull up bar and swinging your toes as high as you can to improve your strength and stability. Focus on these and then perform some knees to chest and leg raises until you feel strong enough to do a full toes to bar movement.


Conclusion

If you're pregnant or recovering from injury, then toes to bar exercises can be too risky to perform. Still, there are a lot of alternatives you can slot into your routine which will improve your overall fitness and flexibility. Hopefully this guide has given you some good ideas, and you now have a few new exercises to try.  

Last Updated on August 25, 2022