Thursday, March 28, 2013

My First Kipping Bar Muscle Up

stoked, lol.

A few weeks ago I got my first kipping bar muscle up!  While ring muscle ups may be one of my strengths, a kipping bar muscle up couldn't be harder for me to grasp.  In fact, I think it was the hardest CrossFit movement for me to learn, to date.  This was a year-long working progress and I'm glad I took the time to learn the safe, and efficient way to do these.  Also, as an added bonus, I no longer chicken wing my strict bar muscle ups.

Warning: this is a long post, but hopefully the videos make up for it =P


The video above is my honest attempt at a bar muscle up last September.  It's so terrible you can't even tell I was attempting a bar muscle up, haha.

The Progression

When it came to learning the kipping bar muscle up, I had all sorts of issues.  First, I was terrified of getting down from the high bar.  Sometimes I had to get someone to help lower me down because I was so scared.  It's funny now, but back then I was freaking out hard core.  This lasted for months, haha.

Once I overcame that fear, the next step was learning the glide kip.  Like the ring muscle up, my first bar muscle up was also strict because I have a really hard time kipping.  To this day, I still can't kip my hips to the bar, let alone belly button to bar.  I could have learned how to do a bigger kipping pull-up essentially, and chicken wing to press out, for the sake of time and just getting it done.  However, I really wanted to learn the proper and efficient kip for a bar muscle up: the glide kip.  It was totally a foreign concept to me and it took me months just to get the rhythm.  Once I had that, it was another big obstacle just to learn how to start the kip.  My favorite cue for starting the glide kip is imagine trying to get height on a swing.

The next big challenge for me was the timing of the kipping bar muscle up.  Conceptually it made sense: with the entire body in front of the bar: arch, shoulders open, hips out, then do the quickest toes to bar before your ass moves behind the bar, and you should snap up, like a spring.  The analogy people like to use here is think of pulling your pants up.  This still doesn't make sense to me, but whatever.  I did all kinds of exercises like doing toes to bar with my body in front of the bar to having a spotter guide me through the positions.  But like learning how to do any other movement, it really comes down to just doing it and practicing it a bunch, frequently.

The Result

So almost a year later, things finally clicked, and I got my first kipping bar muscle up!

I was so stoked that it totally made up for my terrible performance on the first Open workout, lol.

Improved Strict Bar Muscle Up
After getting the kipping bar muscle up, I took a stab at a strict bar muscle up to see if I made any improvements.  Conveniently, I also have a video from last summer to compare to.  Check this out, it's whole magnitude of improvement!

September 2012: ugly & chicken winging

March 2013: clean

Woot woot, one goal down for 2013!

So I wanted to convey multiple points with this post: one of course being, my first kipping bar muscle up!  The second is: make the time to learn a movement properly and of quality, instead of compromising safety.  How much would it have sucked had I dislocated my shoulder from chicken winging gone bad?  Some CrossFit competitions may no rep my kipping bar muscle up in the video above for having my feet go over the bar, but I far rather get that no rep than injure myself to get the rep.  I'm lucky I have flexible shoulders and can get away with funky shoulder positions so far, but regardless, I'd be ingraining bad movement.  The next steps for me in my bar muscle up progression is getting consistent and hopefully as a result, I don't have to bring my feet as high to get up.

Third, and probably most corny: indifferent of how "impossible" something you feel like you should be able to do (because "everyone else can"), when you make it a goal, work for it, stick to it, and have a positive attitude, you will see results.  I say this because I see a lot of people at the gym discouraged that they can't do X movement, finish last, lift less than the person next to them, etc.  Then, out of frustration, they compare themselves to others who can do what they want to do and get even more frustrated.  I can't speak for other people, but I can speak for myself.  Almost 2.5 years of CrossFit and 2 years after my first muscle up, I just got my kipping bar muscle up.  It was very frustrating and felt like forever.  For some things, we all start at what feels like rock bottom.  You can stay there and complain, or you can make a solid effort to tackle the problem.