Skin The Cat
If you train at a commercial gym you may not have seen the skin the cat before, the skin the cat is an exercise often used as a foundational gymnastic movement used to learn isometric strength holds that require an incredible degree of strength (particularly the front and back lever). The skin the cat although a descendent from gymnastics is a great exercise to add to your arsenal, whether you’re an athlete or a bodybuilder as you’ll soon see the skin the cat can help stretch and strengthen your physique to new heights.
The skin the cat can be performed on a pull-up bar, on rings or on silks.
I personally perform my skin the cat on a straight bar, if you’re also going to use a bar instead of rings ensure you have enough room above and behind you to perform the entire movement.
Targets: Abdominals & Shoulders
Required: Pull-up Bar
Skin The Cat Form:
Commence from a dead hang position from a pull-up bar or rings
Perform a leg raise and allow your feet to continue through your elbows
Maintain a pike position and send your toes toward the ground
Finish in a hollow body position with your arms fully extended
Tuck your head in and bring thighs to your chest as you initiate the rewind
Finish with a hang
Skin The Cat Progressions
Begin lowering yourself down using a partial range of motion, this will take a little bit of practise as you allow your shoulder mobility to increase.
Once you’ve achieved full range of motion through the shoulders perform the first half of the exercise to strengthen and stretch your upper body before proceeding with the second half (returning) of the exercise.
Once you’re able to rotate full and return to position with tucked knees it’s time to straighten one leg.
Once you’re able to perform the skin the cat with full range of motion on both portions of the exercise with one leg straightened it’s time to perform the skin the cat in it’s final form and straighten both legs for the movement.
At this point your core strength, confidence on the rings/bar and range of motion through your shoulders will be top tier.
The key to building both core strength and mobility from the skin the cat are within the range of motion.
If you're purposely working within a small range of motion you're shooting yourself in the foot - rotate your torso through the movement until both your arms and legs are as straight as possible.
Similar & Substitute Exercises
- Hanging Leg Raises
- Cable Crunches
- Dragon Flags