Strict Bar Muscle Up Progression

Strict Bar Muscle Up Progression

Strict Bar Muscle Up Progression

The strict bar muscle-up is a very challenging exercise requiring significant upper body strength and coordination. In the following video, Pamela Gagnon breaks down a strict bar muscle-up progression to help you reach your goals!

For more in-depth assistance getting your first strict bar muscle-up, check out our recently released five-week muscle up program on Performance Plus. We’ve helped thousands of athletes reach their fitness goals and we can’t wait to help you as well!
For strict ring muscle-up assistance, see this article.


Strict Bar Muscle-Up Progression Transcript

What’s up guys? This is Pamela Gagnon from Performance Plus Programming. Today we’re going to go over how to get a strict bar muscle up. This is one of my favorite skills. It’s super badass, and even at age 47 it can be achieved. Let’s go over five of my favorite drills.

Weighted Chest to Bar Pull-ups

The first drill is going to be a weighted chest-to-bar pull-up to build our strength foundations. But what I want to talk about is the positioning we really would like at the top of that chest-to-bar pull-up. When we pull down we have to be able to pull low so we can transition, but what I don’t want to see is the rib out too much because it makes the elbows drop down and the transition a little bit harder. We’re going to try to pull into a hollow, and that will bring our elbows a little bit higher so we have to transition about a quarter of the way instead of the full way.

Start with a light dumbbell. You can use a weighted vest. I’m going to squeeze. I’m going to get an over grip to make sure I can pull well, and I’m going to stay in hollow and I’m going to pull through that top position in hollow. Obviously, the lower you pull the easier the strict bar muscle up will be. But if you don’t have the pulling strength then it will be an impossible skill.

Russian Pushups

All right guys, drill number two, definitely one of my favorite for all muscle up work, which includes ring muscle ups as well too, and that’s going to be the Russian pushup. What does the Russian pushup help you do? One, keep your core engaged, your whole body tight. And, it allows you to learn how to fast transition from the pull to the press. We’re going to get down on the ground on our elbow. We want to make a 90-degree angle, stack our shoulders over our elbow. Hands are spread. We’re going to get that hollow body position. I’m going to drive my shoulders forward over my hands and then I’m going to stay in the tension position before I press up. What I don’t want to see is you drop, because I want full tension throughout the whole position. That will help you guys figure out how to get those elbows fast from that pull into press. It builds a lot of muscle memory as well.

Seated Band Pulldown

Drill number three is a resistance band seated banded pull down. This drill you can build a lot of strength if you use a thick band, but right now I’m just building a little bit of muscle memory to help with the muscle up transition phase. I’m going to get a band, I’m going to sit and I’m going to pull down as low as I can go to my hip, and then I’m going to press. Then I’m going to release and come back down. Notice my grip is more of an over grip instead of my wrists being in more of an extension. We want more of a flexion. Again, we’re going to pull into hollow as low as we can go and press down, which will be that transition period of the strict bar muscle up, and then I’m going to come back and repeat. Once again, use a thicker band to build the strength. You can start with a thinner band to build that muscle memory.

False Grip Strength Drill

All right, drill number four is all about that grip strength. Remember we talked about hanging on the pull-up bar with the wrist in more in flexion. This will be a stronger grip for the muscle up transition than a neutral grip. I don’t think you need a complete false grip to do a strict bar muscle up, but you do need to engage those forearms and get a little bit of that over grip, so you can go from full to press much easier. Grab a Lacrosse ball, tennis ball, whatever you have. You’re going to grab it and we’re going to hang with one hand over on the bar and then the tennis ball or LaCrosse ball over the bar. And we’re going to build grip strength by squeezing the Lacrosse ball and hanging. Start with a low number, maybe 10 seconds per side, and then you will build up some endurance.

Eccentric Strict Bar Muscle-Up Progression

Drill number five is definitely the most difficult of the drills so far but helps a ton with perfect form and muscle-up mechanics. It will require you guys some body and spatial awareness as well as some strict strength. But it’s working the eccentric portion of the strict bar muscle up, which is so important to learn how to control through that transition and build strength through that transition. Here’s how I like to teach it. I like to do a pullover into the support position because we’re working on pulling strength, and just honestly, body awareness, which is important for all gymnastics and body weight skills. I’m going to pull up and then I’m going to pull my toes around the bar, keeping my eyesight on my toes.

Now that I’m in top of support position, I’m going to do a slow negative. The key to success is when you get to this position here, I keep my wrist in flexion so I can hold that transition through control. If I find that I’m dropping, look at your wrist position and reevaluate if you have enough control through the wrists and forearms to control your body as it goes through the negative. All right guys, if you love these drills and you want some more help with getting your first strict bar muscle up or getting a better strict bar muscle up, check out our five-week Performance Plus Strict Bar Muscle Up program.