5 Toes-to-Bar (TTB) Alternatives for CrossFitters

If you attend CrossFit regularly, then you are probably familiar with the toes-to-bar (TTB) exercise.

You’ve probably also realized that this exercise can provide a wide variety of benefits.

However, you might not always be able to perform the toes-to-bar exercise.

What should you do if you are looking for an alternative?

There are several other exercises you might be able to perform that can provide similar benefits.

Some of the top toes-to-bar alternatives include:

  • V Ups
  • Toes to Kettlebell
  • Bent Leg TTB
  • Captain’s Chair
  • Ab Wheel

Now, let’s take a closer look at how you perform the toes-to-bar and what some of the top alternatives might be.

What Is the Toes-To-Bar Exercise?

The toes-to-bar, also known as the TTB exercise, is one of the most common exercises among those who perform CrossFit.

This is a great way for you to work your whole body, from your arms down to your legs.

In particular, this is an exceptional core exercise, and it can be a challenge even though it sounds straightforward enough.

If you want to perform this exercise, the steps include:

  • First, you grab the pull-up bar and allow your legs to hang from your body.
  • Then, keep your legs straight as you lift your lower body from the bottom up toward the pull-up bar.
  • As the name suggests, you should try to lift your lower body all the way up until your toes touch the bar.
  • Then, do not allow your legs to drop suddenly. Instead, follow a nice, smooth, controlled motion with your legs down from the pull-up bar to the original position. This is very important.

It might be a challenge to perform even one rep if you are doing this for the first time. But, with practice, you eventually should be able to perform 10 or more repetitions.

You might not always be in a position to perform this exercise, so what are a few of the top alternatives you might want to try?

The Best TTB Alternatives

There are several alternatives to the traditional toes-to-bar exercise you might want to consider.

The exact alternatives you want to perform vary depending on your goal. For example, maybe you’re looking for something meant for beginners, or maybe you are looking for something you can perform if you don’t have access to a pull-up bar.

Regardless, some of the top alternatives you might want to consider include:

1. V Ups

If you are looking for an amazing body-weight core workout you can perform without access to a pull-up bar, then you should try v-ups.

This exercise is relatively straightforward.

First, lay flat on the ground. Then, lift your arms, head, chest, legs, and toes off the ground at the same time. Continue to lift them until you reach your toes with your hands. Then, follow a nice, smooth, controlled motion back down.

You don’t need any equipment to perform this exercise, making it ideal if you are on the go. Just focus on form, control, and keeping a strong V as you raise up.

If you want to make the workout harder, consider holding the weight in your hands as you do the exercise.

2. Lying Toes To Kettlebell

If you are looking for a modification that can make the exercise a bit easier, then you may want to try lying toes to kettlebell. This is a great exercise for people who are trying to build up their core strength for the first time.

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First, lie flat on the ground with a kettlebell behind your head.

Grab the kettlebell with your arms and use your arms to anchor yourself.

Then, contract your back and core. Rotate your hips and reach your toes back toward your kettlebell.

Finally, release your core and lower your legs back to the ground slowly.

3. Altered TTB with Bent Legs

There are other ways you can change the TTB exercise to make it slightly easier.

For example, it can be a tremendous challenge if you have never done this exercise before, so consider bending your legs.

So, when you hang from the pull-up bar, you’ll bend your knees first, bend your knees, then pull your knees up to your chest. I guess this could be called a knees-to-chest (or KTC) variation. It’s still effective and, if you’re compensating during regular TTBs, this won’t put nearly as much strain on your hips or lower back.

You can even alter this exercise by twisting and reaching your knees up to the sides of your core as well to hit those obliques.

This is a great way to strengthen your abdominal muscles until you have enough strength to perform the TTB exercise fully.

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4. Straight Leg Raises on a Pull-Up Bar: Captain’s Chair

This is another alternative to the classic TTB exercise. And, although a bit easier, this variation is still enough of a challenge even for people who have strong core muscles.

First, find a captains chair with elbow/forearm pads. These are common at most gyms.

Simply place your elbows on the padded sections on the chair arms. then raise your body off the ground.

Then, using your arms to support your body, raise your legs directly in front of you until they are at a 90-degree angle. Then, release slowly and feel the focus on your core as you lower your legs. Of course, you can do this one with your knees bent as well.

Overall, it’s not an overall functional exercise, but it does target the core and will allow you to build up to more advanced exercises.

The Ab Wheel

Finally, if you are looking for an exercise that will work your arms, legs, and core just like the classic TTB exercise, then why not give the ab wheel a try?

This is a small piece of equipment that you can take with you anywhere.

It will also shred your core.

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Using the ab wheel is relatively straightforward.

Start by grabbing the wheel with your hands and kneel on a mat. Keep the wheel in front.

Then, roll the wheel outward until the wheel is even with your head.

Using your core, bring the wheel back in.

Repeat this exercise several times to work your core.

If you want to make this (much) harder, start the ab roll out from a standing position. Just be really careful here, as this is an advanced movement that can strain your abs and cause injury if not done correctly.

Here are some more ab roller exercises to check out.

Watch the following video for a demo:

Consider Putting These TTB Alternatives To Use

These are just a few of the many alternatives to the traditional TTB exercise you can try out.

Of course, you can probably use your imagination to find other ways to build those core muscles in preparation for doing safe TTB reps.

And no matter what you try, that’s the key: keeping proper form and going these core movements safely so you don’t cause injury.

Tim Rollins, Editor

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