Progressions and Scaling Tips: How to Nail Muscle Ups and Toes to Bar

Stringing reps together on the bars is essential for getting those extra seconds shaved off your WOD times. If you really want to make a difference to your technique I totally recommend practicing this stuff OUT OF WODS!

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If you are always practicing while you are exhausted and breathing heavily then the bad breathing technique and feelings of tiredness will become your body’s normal reaction. You want to learn how to stay relaxed when doing muscle ups and toes to bar.

First things first, PRACTICE YOUR KIP BY ITSELF!

I’m going to assume you have been shown how to kip and can “do it” to a relatively ok standard, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get better at it. Working on your kip in isolation will build up your tolerance on the bar and your ability to cope with bigger sets.

The easier you find your kip and know how to manipulate your weight on the bar, the easier it is going to be for you to throw movements off of it. A great warm up drill is 3 sets of 20 kip swings with forwards and back being 1 rep.


The biggest trick I want to throw at you here is to work towards being able to do strict toe to bars, owning strict movements eventually gives you a lot more confidence for kipping variations, plus kipping will not build strict strength.

There are two slightly different styles I like to teach for toes to bar, and both have their advantages and disadvantages. The first I demonstrate is a knee tuck with a kick, this will generally be the most common one that you see and requires slightly less hamstring flexibility, if you have a really good kipping knee raise then it is just a matter of using your lats more to press the bar to gain height and have a small “flick kick” at the end to tap the bar.

The version that requires more mobility is straight legged, imagine an alligators mouth snapping shut. Check them out:


Do not even attempt a bar muscle up if you haven’t done bar dips or a jumping muscle up from a box or fixed bar:

Once you have strict pull ups and bar dips dialed in, and can do a jumping muscle up progression until you’re almost “bored” of it because it’s too easy – hitting your first one shouldn’t be an issue when you get the TIMING.

A common issue after getting your first bar muscle up is regaining the kip for your second rep.

Patience is key here, in this video I demonstrate the “1,2,3” drill and saying it out loud is actually part of the drill (for breathing) the sitting back in a chair idea is another great way of learning patience too! Devote a good amount of attention to these drills and you’ll be repping them out in no time:

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