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What’s The Best Type Of Bar To Learn Muscle Ups On?

LA Muscle Up Screenshot

There’s TONS to learning your first (STRICT) muscle up. The technical elements alone are overwhelming. The strength required is nothing short of impressive. And finding a bar with the necessary clearance overhead is a voyage.

They say the best way to achieve something is to reverse engineer it, which in this case means starting with the search for a user friendly bar. The common ‘go-to’s’ are park swing bars or goal posts, OR, maybe you’re lucky enough to be at a gym with high bars that have generous overhead clearance?

Of course it’s cheaper to use mother nature but the drawback comes in the form of bar thickness. Swing bars and goal posts tend to be thick – sometimes more than 2 inches in diameter! Whereas most gym bars will be no more than 1.5 inches around, usually more like 1 inch though.

False grip pics 1

                           ‘Thumbs around’ false grip shown on a 2 inch thick bar 

What difference does an inch really make?!

Believe it or not this is a far more pressing issue than a 5’11 perosn wanting to be 6′. When it comes to learning muscle ups, bar thickness can make you or break you.

The muscle up is touted as a pull up and a dip combined but if it were that simple I wouldn’t get countless emails and Instagram DM’s asking for help with this move. The real devil in the muscle up is the transition aka rotation of the hands. The last thing you want is to make an already sticky task even stickier.

Whenever possible, you want to seek out thinner bars unless you have incredibly large hands or solid false grip strength (or both!).

Image result for 2 inch and 1 inch thick pull up bar comparison

             ( – visual representation of a thin & thick pul up bar. 

Other banana skins (things to be mindful of)

A secondary factor to keep an eye on also is the finish of the bar. The best finish is usually a ‘galvanised’ bar, this offers a very friendly surface to grip. More often than not these are found in CrossFit gyms. A painted finish bar is probably the next friendly type with stainless steel being the trickiest and offering precious little in the way of grip.

It’s also worth noting chalk can make a huge difference (especially when you’re new to muscle ups) and can almost negate an unfriendly bar. When all’s said and done, why make it harder for yourself if you’ve not mastered the easiest steps?

Find a reasonably thin bar (not too thin or it’ll dig into your hands too much), use chalk if you have access to it and then……and only then, start experimenting with thicker bars and unconventional bars once you’ve got a nice set of 5 under your belt in favorable conditions.

As always, if you need help or tips with your muscle ups, leave a comment or email me:

Thanks for reading!

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

8 thoughts on “What’s The Best Type Of Bar To Learn Muscle Ups On? Leave a comment

  1. Damn, legit a killer article. I came in with little knowledge on the subject and I’m leaving with a better understanding of the subject. I’m surprised you didn’t throw some info about rings in there at one point! I definitely think this will help people looking into learning how to develop their muscle up. Great work like always mate, short, ad straight to the point.

    -Nickolas McKeever

    • Thanks Nick! And thanks for the topic inspiration too 😉

      Good point with the rings too as well but you know me, I’d probably ramble on way longer if I touched on them haha.

      As ever, appreciate the feedback and nice words, Nick! Looking forward to a catchup with you after your travels 😀

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