Bar Muscle Up by Heather Hippensteel of CrossFit Invictus San Diego

Tips For Getting Your First Bar Muscle Up!
Written by Heather Hippensteel

Oh, the bar muscle up. It’s one of my favorite movements! If you are trying to get your first bar muscle up, here are some tips to help you get there. Now, before you try to attempt this, you should be proficient with kipping pull-ups, kipping chest-to-bar pull-ups, and dips.

The bar muscle up is actually quite simple, considering how much momentum you can gain by using your hips. Maintaining a strong core throughout is key, because if you lose your midline, you’ll lose your momentum.

When I first learned these, jumping to the bar really helped me channel the aggression I needed. Start by standing about two feet away from the bar and jump into a kipping swing. Aggressively drive your head through like you would in a kipping pull-up, letting your body extend into a tight and controlled arch position. Emphasis on the tight position – no loosey goosey!

Bar Muscle Up by Heather Hippensteel of CrossFit Invictus San Diego

As you keep your gaze fixed forward (pick a spot that’s in front and slightly down), and start to swing back, engage your lats and pull down towards your hips as hard as you can while popping your hips towards the bar. Make sure you are pulling towards your hips and not into your chest. Think about leading with your hips, not with your legs or feet. This will help create the space to pop your shoulders up and over. The higher you can get your hips up, the more momentum you will have to get your shoulders up and over into the catch position. And the higher the hips, the less arm bend you will need, which allows you to be more efficient! I’ve seen people make the mistake of trying to do a really aggressive chest-to-bar pull-up. Think about why you wouldn’t do that; if you pull to your chest, you leave no room to transition over the bar, so how are you going to get your shoulders up and over? Here is what it should look like….


If you find yourself struggling, practice an aggressive kipping swing that allows you to practice the lat engagement and straight arm pull down while popping your hips up. As you get stronger here and learn to let the momentum of your hips carry you, the transition of throwing your shoulders up and over the bar will become much easier.

I hope these tips help you get your bar muscle up!