How To Do Bar Muscle-Ups

Bar Muscle Up (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

The Bar Muscle-Up is a challenging exercise that involves pulling your body up and over a bar using only your upper body strength. It is a staple movement in gymnastics and CrossFit training, and is often seen in calisthenics workouts as well.

In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do a Bar Muscle Up including important coaching points, muscles worked and a few alternatives as well.

How To Do Bar Muscle-Ups

Equipment Needed

  • Pull-Up Bar (either on Squat Rack or Wall-Mounted)

How To

  • Begin by standing underneath a bar and grabbing it with an overhand grip, with your hands just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Engage your core and pull your body up so that your chest is level with the bar.
  • From this position, use your upper body strength to pull your body up and over the bar.
  • As you do this, keep your elbows close to your body and use your arms and back muscles to lift yourself up and over the bar.
  • Once you are over the bar, lower yourself down in a controlled manner until your arms are fully extended.
  • Repeat the movement until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points

The Bar Muscle-Up is a challenging exercise that requires a significant amount of upper-body strength and technique. Don’t get frustrated if it takes you a good amount of time before you can do even one rep.

If you’re not able to do a Muscle-Up (yet!), check out some of the alternatives listed below that can help you build up your strength.


The Bar Muscle-Up is a challenging exercise that provides several benefits for the upper body. It is an effective way to build strength and muscular endurance in the arms, shoulders, and back. It can also improve grip strength and coordination, as well as increase overall upper body strength and power.

Additionally, the Bar Muscle-Up is a functional movement that can improve overall athletic performance and prepare the body for other physical activities such as climbing and lifting.

Overall, the Bar Muscle-Up is a valuable exercise to include in a well-rounded training routine.

How Many Reps?

This is going to depend almost completely on how many reps the lifter is able to do. An athlete who can do a set of 8 to 10 reps of Bar Muscle Ups is a very good accomplishment. For many athletes, being able to do just one full rep can be a cause for celebration.

Bar Muscle-Up Alternatives

Need an alternative for Bar Muscle-Ups? Here are a couple of exercises you may be able to use as a replacement.

Need more options? Here are my 10 favorite alternatives for Muscle-Ups for beginners to advanced lifters.


Pull-up Alternatives and Variations

The first alternative is essentially the first half of a Bar Muscle-Up. The better and more efficient you become at Pull-Ups, the better chance you have at being able to do Muscle-Ups.

Keep improving at Pull-ups and then every few weeks give muscle-ups another try.


Man Doing Dips on Dip Rack Attachment

The other alternative is basically the second half of a Bar Muscle-Up. Getting stronger at Dips will make the press out after getting yourself up and over the bar easier.

The combination of Pull-Ups and Dips is a good combo to use as a complete replacement if you’re not able to do Bar Muscle-Ups (yet!).

More Links and Info

Looking for more upper-body exercises? Check out the Upper Body Lifts section of our Exercise Library. There you’ll find dozens of chest, shoulder and back exercises – all with complete step-by-step instructions.

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