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How To: Skin The Cat

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.

Movement: Compound

Targets: Abdominals & Shoulders

Required: Pull-up Bar

Optional: N/A

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

See also
Skin The Cat Exercise - Progressions To Increase Mobility 'N' Core Strength

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.

Partial ROM

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.

See also
How To: Foam Roll Hamstrings

Similar & Substitute Exercises 

  • Hanging Leg Raises
  • Cable Crunches
  • Dragon Flags

Any Questions Regarding The Skin The Cat? Ask Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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