Benefits of the Banded Bar Muscle-Up
Written by Kaitlyn Kassis

The banded bar muscle-up drill is by no means a new progression towards getting an unassisted bar muscle-up – however, there is a lot to learn from this drill beyond it simply being a little extra boost to get you up and over the bar. 

The Role of the Band in the Bar Muscle-Up

In a banded strict pull-up, the band helps by taking some of the load making the amount of weight you have to pull to get your chin over the bar lighter. While this is also true for the banded bar muscle-up, there is also the added benefit of teaching movement mechanics and momentum. The assistance you get from the band in a bar muscle-up has more to do with the band expanding and contracting than it does with the load it is reducing. 

How to Create a Snap in Your Kip with a Band

Think of the banded bar muscle-up like snapping a rubber band. That “snap” is what is going to get you up and over the bar. Thus the more aggressive you are, the harder the “snap,” the more efficient the movement is going to be. In the bar muscle-up that means catching higher up on the bar. In order to create the most aggressive “snap,” the band needs to be stretched as far as possible followed by an explosive shortening phase. You are going to initiate these phases, the lengthening (arch) and shortening (hollow), with your hips in the kip. 

Common Mistakes when Kipping with a Band

The most common mistake I see with this drill is an athlete starting from a dead hang and immediately trying to initiate the band lengthening phase (arch). Often athletes in this position feel like they have no power to pull into and arch because the band is restricting their ability to kip. 

Banded Bar Muscle-Up Drill

In order to mitigate this problem, you need what I call a “wind-up” hollow. When hanging from the bar with a band, start by pressing your head behind the bar and feet in from –  hanging in a hollow. By doing so, you are shortening the length of the band is being stretched, which then sets you up for more momentum when you pull into that arch. The same method applies when jumping up to the pull-up bar too – jump into a hollow first, then pull into an arch. This “wind-up” will give you more power in your arch. 

In the arch phase of the kip your head is going to be as far in front of the bar as you can get it, while your feet reach long and behind. Your goal is to stretch that band as far as you can!

Now that we have the wind-up hollow (shorten), and arch (lengthen) phases completed, the next step is to aggressively shorten the band by again pushing your head behind the bar with your feet in front in (hollow #2) to contract the band (shorten). This is your SNAP! And that aggressive transition between the lengthening and shortening phase will propel you in an upward motion on top of the bar (so long as you keep pressing down with your lats – but that’s another blog post!). 

The beauty of this drill is that although the band is providing some assistance as far as decreasing load, its main purpose is drilling movement patterns. The band amplifies what it feels like to have an explosive hip drive. The change between an open and closed hip is what is lengthening and shortening the band. 

That exact same pattern is required to complete a bar muscle-up without a band. I will often tell athletes to imagine they have an invisible band they are trying to lengthen and snap when doing unassisted bar muscle-ups.

Banded Bar Muscle-Up Warm-Up

One of the easiest ways to practice this drill is to work it into your warm-up a couple of times a week.

  • Accumulate 20-30 Banded Kips (“wind-up” hollow + arch)
  • Accumulate 5-7 Banded BMU with high assistance band
  • Accumulate 3-5 Banded BMU with low assistance band

Also Check Out…

How to Spot a Kipping Ring Muscle-Up

Bar Muscle-Up Swing: Slack is Bad

Breaking Down Bar Muscle-Ups

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