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The Bar Muscle Up is a fun and challenging gymnastics movement that requires a combination of strength, body awareness and coordination. Unlike its counterpart on the rings, that move out of the athlete’s way while performing the movement, the Bar is fixed and requires the athlete move around it. The more experienced Rx athletes often use the bar muscle up in their WOD (Workout of the Day) , and this movement has also recently been seen in the CrossFit Games Open Workout 16.3 , that included a 7 minute amrap – (As many rounds as possible) workout with 10 power snatch and 3 bar muscle up .

In my opinion the basic strength requirements for this movement include 5 strict chest to bar pull up and 5 ring dips, these numbers may fluctuate between athletes , but in my experience as a coach I have found that if these strength  requirements are met then it is simply a matter of skill practice holding you back from achieving your very first bar muscle up . If you already have the strength requisites,  skip to the Bar Muscle Up demonstration video and technique break down below, if not keep reading for exercises to help you build the foundation you need to achieve this amazing movement.

  1. Strict pull ups – Are the foundation of all muscle ups, developing strength throughout the entire back including the Latissimus dorsi , Supra and infraspinatus , teres major and minor,  rhomboids and subscapularis .

Build from up from zero pull ups to 1 strict pull up in a few short weeks if you are willing to practice the following daily.

Ring row.

Static /isometric hold on top.

Negative / eccentric or Top Down pull ups.

Assisted banded pull up to achieve and keep a full range of movement.


  1. Core strength – Can be developed by practicing gymnastic hollow body rocks and arches to strengthen and assist the kipping element required in the full bar muscle movement.


  1. (Triceps) & Dip strength – Can be developed from scratch, starting from basic incline push up on a box, progressing to bent knee push ups, to full push up. The same rules apply to the Box dip, progressed to parallel bar dips with rubber band, without band, progressed to Ring dips with band and then without band .


No matter how weak you think you are, step by step all of this is achievable!






Stickman does Bar Muscle up Demonstration 🙂

Stick man does bar muscle up

  1. Step one: Dead Hang 1(i)
  2. Step two: initiate kip from hollow body 2(i) pull to hollow arch seen in 2(ii).bar muscle up
  3. Step three: From hollow arch seen in image 2(ii) explode backwards as seen here in 3(i),  insuring to be high enough to be looking directly at the bar you are holding. (This is essential as it is more than half of the effort required in getting the hips to the bar as seen here in 3(ii).

Stick man does bar muscle up3

  1. Step four: With the bar at hips (Minimum navel height for best technique); Forcefully lean forward into a dip position allowing the feet to swing back underneath the body – (*Top Tip- allowing the feet to come back down under the body will assist with the speed in the lean through like a pendulum swing to get the body to an upright support. Extend arms in the dip portion to complete your first muscle up !



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