Sunday, December 28, 2014

Birds Eye View: Landing My First Bar Muscle Up.

BIG news on the fitness front!! Got my very first bar muscle up last weekend. I had been working on bar muscle ups for a few months but had recently put this goal on the back burner because I was not making progress. Everyone said I was strong enough to do them, but I doubted them because why else could I not get up there, dangit. Then one of my friends at the gym told me he was training to get his bar muscle ups

Instantly my competitive spirit began to rush motivating blood through me. Shortly after that,  I told him that I wanted to see who could get the first muscle up. Game on! I think a lot of times you put a big goal out into the universe and you get sent exactly what you need.

What I needed was three things:

Scott. The Man.
1) One on one training - which came in the form of Crossfit Masters Games winner Scott Olson
2) Motivation to get me pumped up - like the contest I established with my friend. It could be competing in an event. There was a girl who had never done ring muscle ups, who did a big Crossfit competition and got her first muscle up, just like that.
3) Physical exhaustion to silence my over-thinking mind - I got my first muscle ups post max front squat+ heavy clean and jerks. It was after a grueling 2-hour workout that Scott Olson looked at my red, sweaty face and asked if I wanted to work on getting a muscle up. While I thought, "I'm physically pooped" there was no way I would turn down the opportunity. My first attempt with Scott, I got up there. I was shocked and elated.

The top of a muscle up - perch position

If you don't know what a muscle up is- its where you hang from a bar (a pull up bar would do) and pull yourself to the top. The skills it uses are pull ups and dips but with explosive power. You want to end up where a gymnast would perch right before a big move on the uneven bars.  Here are some of the most helpful instructional videos I watched to help me get up to the bar.




A video with one of my fav people: Matt Chan teaching efficiency tips


And when it comes to learning the technique, here's where your volume needs to be focused:
  • Pull ups - Kipping and strict pull ups. I did the biggest kip of my life to get my muscle up but you also need to have the strength of strict pull ups
  • Toes to bar  (kipping)- Strength and explosive power in your hips, to "pop" you to the top
  • Hollow holds - Gymnastics style hollow holds. Hold for 45 seconds and repeat 3 times. You want massive core strength.
  • Chest to bar pull ups - After you are good at chest to bar pull ups, then work on pulling your hips to the bar. 
  • Ring dips - You need a lot of upper body strength - dips are super charged muscle builders


The most efficient (and darn right beautiful) muscle ups I've ever seen:


Mmmm Kay, When you know you are strong enough and are ready to tackle the bar muscle up - here are the most important tricks to remember:


  1. Stand back a little ways from the bar so you can jump into it. I stood back about 4 feet, but you might need more if you are taller
  2. Give the biggest, most powerful kip of your life
  3. Pull your hips up to the bar - you want to be parallel to the floor as much as you can
  4. Keep your arms straight as much as you can to maintain your strength. Bent arms will work but you might end up burning out faster and you are very likely to end up having chicken wing arms to get you up there
  5. After you kip out, you will pull back and then do the fastest sit up of your life to sit over the bar. Try not to use your tummy too much because you can get injured that way but when first starting off, just do what ever it takes!