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Bar Muscle Up Tips and Thoughts

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Converting Your Chest to Bars to Bar Muscle Ups


Getting your first muscle up is a big step in any CrossFitter journey.  Many athletes have struggled with getting their first bar muscle up despite has chest to bar pullups in spades.  It is important to note that there are some subtle differences between the bar muscle up and kipping pullups.  Hopefully noting those difference will also help you transition from chest to bars to your first muscle up.  Below we’ll note some of the major differences and what you want to focus on when trying to perform your bar muscle ups.


  • Shoulders Away


In the regular kipping pullup, your target is pulling your shoulders directly TO the bar.  In the bar muscle up you want to think of pulling your shoulders back and as far away as possible from the bar before going into your transition to on top of the bar.  Not keeping enough distance from shoulders to bar or initiating the transition too soon is what causes a miss.  Think: shoulder away from the bar and be patient before your transition.


  • Torso Position


In the regular kip the body’s torso stays relatively vertical.  This helps the athlete maintain control over the movement.  When going for a bar muscle up, the athlete wants to elevate their legs and overall torso position to a more vertical approach. As always, you need to keep a strong contraction in the midline to maintain a hollow position as well.  Think: shoulders back and hips up! 


  • Feet Lag


When you initiate the regular kip, your feet mirror your hands pretty exactly.  However, in the muscle up approach your feet will lag behind the hands as they drive down on the bar.  This allows the time of the 2 parts to create the more horizontal torso position covered in #2 above.