Improving Bar Muscle-Ups

In the following blog, I'll be addressing a common question I get from my athletes & coaches around me: How to refine bar muscle-ups? My opinion. 1- Analyzing the movement When it comes to BMU and movement proficiency I'm looking first at the micro demand of the movement and what's lacking with my athletes or where can we improve. Is their ROM functional? (e.g shoulder flexion, thoracic/lumbar extension or even shoulder extension) After this, I'll be looking at the movement from a macro standpoint. If they're beginner, I'll use drills to teach the glide kip to idealize hips & tension, I'll tell them to start away from the bar to initiate that, I'll discuss the lat-pulldown to go around the bar, the low-bar drills and banded work to encourage a more symmetrical movement (I'm seeing you chicken wingers). If they're advanced, I'll be looking at variability & economy. In fact, I ALWAYS tell my athletes to build their toolbox and it is so true with bar muscle-ups. You won't perform bar muscle-ups in pressing dominant workout the same way you would in a pulling dominant workout. 1.1 Lat pull-down progression: 20 banded PVC lat pull-down into 3 glide kip w/ exaggerated lat pull-down 1.2 Adaptability progression: 2 BMU w/chest on bar + 2 BMU w/straight arm 2- Strength At this point, my athlete is moving well, but strength, contractile force, neuromuscular power and hypertrophy of fast twitch fibers now become the limiters. How to address this? Pulling, Pressing, Hanging are the three (3) most important components. Improving those qualities will translate directly to better muscle-ups. 2.1 Pulling progression: OTM x10 3-5 strict pull-ups 2.2 Pressing progression: Bar dips x5 T31X1 2.3 Hanging progression: 30s dead hang + 10 beat swing 3- Energy-Systems Finally, my athlete is ready to attack the last piece of the puzzle, he understands the movement and he’s strong enough. As a coach or as an athlete reading this, consider this article as your knowledge base to improve bar muscle-ups, but can you apply it? It takes some practice (by doing it yourself) and experience (by teaching it) to understand the energy-system limitation of yourself or your athletes. When performing bar muscle-ups, are you limited by the utilization or O2 in local muscles? Or maybe what’s limiting you is the delivery of it? Depending on what’s limiting you or your athletes, the tools you’ll use will be different and that’s the coaches job to figured that out. Again, only when the first 2 points are mastered can we start implementing of focusing more on this one. 3.1 ES Utilization Limited Tools: OT2M - 8 BMU 3.2 ES Delivery Limited Tools: Max Effort BMU in 30s