How To Bar Muscle Up For Beginners

The bar muscle-up is one of the most popular bodyweight skills that beginners try and learn, the bar muscle up is different to the ring muscle up as you need to pull up at an angle to come around the bar, unlike the rings where you come through the middle.

If you would rather learn how to ring muscle up you can find it our guide here.

EXPECTATIONS

To get stronger at pull ups you can practice negative pull-ups which will help you build the strength for a full pull up.

I personally max out on negative pull-ups before I start using the resistance bands, once I’m unable to perform any more negative pull-ups I would then start to use resistance bands to get a few more reps while keeping good form.

When performing negative pull ups you can either jump up to the bar from the ground or use a box, once you are at the top position of the pull-up you want to lower as slowly as possible, the eccentric movement will help build pull up strength.

A common question we get asked is… how long will it take me to get my first muscle up?.

If you are working on the muscle up solely then it can be achieved in 8-9 weeks, I personally got my first muscle up after 9 weeks but this was because I had a good base strength which meant I could do the following reps before I started my muscle up training.

  • 5-8pull-ups pull ups
  • 10+ dips

If you can’t do the same reps or more than my starting strength then you could be looking at anything between 2-4 months, this would include building the required strength.

We recommend that you can do at least 10-15 strict pull ups and 10-15 bar dips before starting to learn the muscle up.

Warming up is really important to get the most out of your training and help avoid injuries.

Below you will find a warm-up video that you can follow along with.

Resistance bands are a great piece of equipment to have as they enable you to practice exercises like the pull-up with good form if you don’t have the strength to perform a pull-up unassisted.[/vc_cta][text_output]If you struggle to do pull-ups unassisted then you can do band assisted pull-ups or negative pull-ups which will enable you to start building your pulling strength.

We suggest that you always go for decent resistance bands if you are going to use them as you don’t want them snapping.

If you do choose to use resistance bands for your pull-ups then you will need to wrap the band around the bar (image below), pull the band down and put your feet inside the band.

NEVER put your head inside the band when it’s being stretched, if you can’t pull the band down by hand then you can jump up into a pull-up position and put your feet in that way.

Secure your band like this around the bar.

Simple and safe way to get into the resistance band

PULL UPS

Pull-ups are a fundamental part of the muscle-up so it’s important to get these right, here are a few tips to get the perfect pull up:

  • Always start and finish each rep with straight arms
  • Start from an active hang position
  • Your palms should be facing away from you with your hands placed shoulder width apart
  • Pull yourself up by pulling your elbows down to the floor and engaging your lats. Keep your elbows close

To get stronger at pull ups you can practice negative pull-ups which are a great way to start building pull strength.

I always max out on negative pull-up reps before using the resistance bands as I find this method helps me develop strength faster, once you’re unable to perform any more negative pull-ups I would then suggest using the bands to get a few more reps.

When performing negative pull-ups you can either jump up to the bar from the ground or use a box, once you are at the top position of the pull-up you want to lower as slowly as possible, the eccentric movement will help build pull up strength.

High Pull Ups

BAR DIPS

Dips are an important piece of the muscle up transition and you will want to be strong here as you will be required to push yourself up from the lowest point of the dip after the transition from the pull up to the dip.

If you don’t have a bar that you can get on top of, I would suggest doing standard dips but stopping at the bottom and pushing up as slowly as possible.

To perform the bar dip you will want to get on top of the bar with your hands placed shoulder-width apart, you can jump up to the bar or use something like a box.

Once on top of the bar, you want to dip down as low as possible, don’t worry if it’s not that deep at the start as your strength grows so will the depth.

The lower you go the more beneficial it will be when it comes to pressing out of that position once you have transitioned from the pull-up to the dip

NEGATIVE MUSCLE UPS

The negative muscle-up is a useful tool when learning to muscle up as it builds muscle memory of the movement pattern and builds strength from the eccentric movement.

When performing the negative muscle up you will need to get above the bar by either jumping up or using a box, once at the top of the muscle up position you need to lower down into the dip, once at the lowest point of the dip roll your wrist backwards (away from the bar) and allow your body weight to drop below the bar as slowly as possible.

The slower the negative muscle up is performed the better and you will see far more gains from this than rushing through the movement, it will take time to slow this movement down so be patient and consistent while training the negative muscle up.

BAND ASSISTED MUSCLE UPS

The band assisted muscle-up is one exercise you must not skip as it’s so important for muscle memory and technique, using a band will allow you to practice the correct movement pattern without doing “chicken wing muscle ups” this means bringing one arm over at a time which isn’t good as it increases the chances of injury and could mean that you aren’t strong enough.

If you have a set of resistance bands you can start with the heaviest band and once you feel comfortable and your form is correct then you can start working down the bands which will increase the difficulty.

If you only have one band then just work on getting a solid set of muscle ups before trying unassisted muscle ups, a good rep range would be between 5-8 reps for 3 sets.

MUSCLE UP

There are a few ways to perform a muscle up, you can use a kip (swing) or perform a strict muscle up meaning that you hold the bar with a false grip. We will be focusing on the kipping muscle.

Here are the steps to follow to perform the muscle up:

  • Start in the dead hang position
  • Using your legs start swinging back and forth
  • On the swing back when you are at the highest point pull your knees towards your chest (this will help raise you higher to the bar)
  • Explosively start to pull up at a slight angle (not straight up like normal pull-ups)
  • Once the bar is in line with your chest shoot your head forwards over the bar
  • Now in the dip position push up to complete the muscle up

If you find yourself doing “chicken wing” muscle ups it may be worth going back to band assisted muscle ups and pull ups to build more strength, the hard work is worth it for the buzz you get when you nail your first muscle up.

Once you have mastered the kipping muscle up you can then you can start working on the more advanced strict muscle up, this would involve using the false grip and will be covered in a later tutorial.