Make Your Progression To The Bar Muscle Up A Sucess!

If you are a regular gym-goer, then you must have seen someone performing the bar muscle-up. At first, it looks easy, like a cross between a traditional pull-up and a tricep dip. But doing it properly, without getting yourself hurt, take the soul out. It falls under Crossfit bar muscle up, as it is a category of its own.

So, today we will talk about the progression to the bar muscle up, how to perform them safely, and workouts you need to add to your routine to perfect the bar muscle-up. Let’s get started!

Prerequisites for progression to the bar muscle up

To perform a muscle-up without any hiccup first, you need to train your body. There are several ways you could improve your body strength.

1. Strict pull-ups


  • Keep your hands outside shoulder width and grip the bar
  • Start hanging with arms extended and get into a hollow position
  • Pull yourself up, and keep your chest and eyes forward
  • Pull until chin is higher than the bar
  • Slowly relax and lower back down into a hollow position
  • Repeat this process
2. Strict ring dips


  • Grip the rings with thumbs around and keep them shoulder-width apart
  • Start with arms extended and shoulders pushing down onto the rings
  • The elbows move back as the chest drops forward
  • Push yourself up as the shoulders descend lower than elbows
  • Keep your hands and arms near to your body
  • Repeat this process
3. Dip hold support/Assisted dips


  • Grip the handles
  • Push yourself up, keeping your elbows straight
  • Keep your feet and thigh together
  • Hold the position for few seconds
  • Then relax back and repeat

These were the general requisites for progression to the bar muscle-up. If these are hard for you, try the basic ones to build your strength.

Muscles worked during a muscle up

To get yourself up and over the bar and then into a hollow position, you will rely on several muscles of your upper body, such as:

  • latissimus dorsi (back)
  • deltoids (shoulders)
  • biceps and triceps (arms)
  • trapezius (upper back)
  • pectorals (chest)
  • and, core

You can spot weakness within the core after you see someone kicking and flailing to move over the bar once the upper body is no longer positioned to form leverage.

Difference between rings and bars

Due to the instability of the rings, a strict form muscle-up requires a major level of neuromuscular control and dynamic stability of the shoulder. The change and finishing the ring dip are the key points within the muscle-up. It is a thing where people often struggle, and it generally goes back to the issues with mobility, stability and strength.

The bar muscle-up is different. Because you have to navigate your way around the bar instead of getting into a space between your hands as you do in a ring muscle-up, the physical demands change. This is a power-based movement. You have to be ready to pull violently to generate enough force and speed to get your shoulders high enough above the bar. 

Unless you can do that, you won’t be ready to perform this controlled and classy transition. It is a reason why several people find themselves with one elbow above and one below the bar during this position. If you have ever tried it on a goalpost, you would understand the experience.

Progression to the bar muscle up

So finally, we will learn about bar muscle up progression. It usually takes some time and a lot of energy to execute this exercise.

The process has 3 main steps, pull, transition, and dip.


  • Jump onto the bar and grip it properly. Create a solid hollow body position while hanging. 
  • Your back should be slightly arched, along with your feet behind you. Keep your core and quads tight throughout the process. From the arch position, move to scoop your legs through under the bar, then levering yourself back.
  • As your knees and legs are lifting into the air with the elevation, consider aggressively popping your hips.
  • Relax your grip, and let both of your hands slide around the bar at the same time.
  • Engage your core, and allow that torso to rotate over the highest of the pull-up bar, then locking out your arms at the highest.

Safety precautions

Congratulations! You managed to do a bar muscle-up, but it isn’t as easy as it looks up there. There are some certain risks involved. Let’s talk about those:

This exercise puts a lot of pressure on the shoulders and wrists, and anyone with rotator cuff problems or carpal tunnel syndrome should avoid this exercise. If you manage to pass the prerequisites and try bar muscle up for the first time, your arms and shoulder are going to stay sore for days. And if the pain increases, then consulting a doctor is necessary.

Having a qualified trainer to monitor you and identify areas for improvement are keys to staying healthy and moving toward your individual fitness goals. If you are thinking of doing a muscle-up, don’t just grab a bar and attempt it. Instead, use the help of a personal trainer or physical therapist to create a personalized plan before attempting.

 Some alternatives to add to your workout routine for muscle growth:

  • pulldowns
  • straight arm pulldowns
  • TRX rows
  • triceps dips
  • triceps pushdowns
  • hollow body rocks
  • core exercises

So, today we showed you a 5-step progression to the bar muscle up. Mastering it takes a tremendous amount of upper body strength, power and time. Your core also plays a vital part in this process. If you have mastered the prerequisites, then you should go for it. If not, then add them (and some other variations) to your daily workouts to successfully achieve the result.

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