The bar muscle up is an amazing exercise which works out the whole upper body. It is considered to be an intermediate movement in street workout and calisthenics and requires a involves a good level of explosive pulling strength.
The strictest form of muscle up involves starting off in a ‘hanging’ position from an overhead bar. The athlete performs an explosive pull up so that instead of only pulling up to the point where the chin just reaches over the bar, they end up high enough to be able to rotate their hands forward. At the same time as the hands are rotated, the athlete’s body-weight is transferred forward slightly so that they are in a position to complete the movement by performing a dipping motion to push themselves above the bar with arms fully extended.
Muscles targeted: The muscle up targets the whole upper body. It is excellent for developing the muscles in the back and biceps (the pulling part) and also good at working the chest, shoulders and triceps (the dipping part). It will also help to develop a strong core.
Quick tips for getting your first muscle up:
- Ensure that you have a good foundation of pulling strength. You should be strong enough to be able to perform at least 12-15 pull ups with good technique so work on your pull ups until you reach this level before attempting the muscle up.
- Focus on explosive pull ups. Rather than simply pulling up to the chin, try pulling up to your chest.
- Practice ‘radial’ pull ups – A radial pull up is where you pull up and away from the bar. In reality, when performing a muscle up you will be pulling up and away from the bar at a slight angle so you should practice replicating this movement.
- Resistance bands can be used to help you to pull higher and eventually get up over the bar, performing a full band assisted muscle up with good technique.
- Practice your straight bar dips by jumping up over a lower bar. You will eventually be able to combine both the pulling and dipping part of the move to complete a full muscle up.