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Even though a kipping bar muscle up is driven primarily by momentum and good mechanics, it still requires a good strength base to do them well and safely. These basic bent-arm pushing and pulling drills will help lay the foundation for the strength you need to kip to the top of the bar.

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    Baby Skin the cat

    What it does

    The skin the cat, or even a half skin the cat like this one, helps you gently explore range through the shoulders and strength with arms straight.


    From a dead hang on the rings, lift your legs in a pike then pull your toes over the top of your body through the rings until your hips are next to your wrists. Carry on as far past this point as feels safe. Then, reverse the movement to come back to the dead hang.

    Straight Arm Pulldown


    Set up a band on a bar above you and grab either side of the loop. With locked elbows, pull the band down to your sides. Try to keep a long neck and avoid shrugging in this position.

    Banded Straight Arm Pull


    Set up a band in a rack directly in front of you tied to a rack or upright. With your elbows locked, pull the band toward your side. It should be very difficult when you reach your side with your arm straight. Slowly control the band back to where it was.

    Hollow Body Box Slide

    What is it?

    A hanging straight arm pull that is accessible even to those with minimal straight arm strength

    What You’ll Need

    A box and a bar to hang from. Se the box about 10cm in front of the bar you’re hanging from.


    Jump to the bar so that you’re in a dead hang. Your toes should be able to touch the box. Form a hollow body position by slightly tucking down the ribs and pelvis and squeezing the legs and glutes tight.

    Push down into the bar with your elbows locked. This should cause your toes to slide up the box. Retain the hollow body so that your hips don’t shoot back. Only your shoulders should move further back, the rest of your body should just elevate.

    Common Mistakes

    Letting the hips push back instead of the shoulders. If you stand from the side and draw a line from your shoulders to the floor, it shouldn’t pass through your bum or legs.

    L Sit on Parallettes (Tuck)


    With your hands on dumbbells or parallettes, lock the elbows and lift your knees to your chest. Push back on the parallettes so that your hips are next to your wrists, not behind them. This will require you to work harder through the triceps and abs.

    Strict Knee to Elbow


    From a dead hang, push down into the bar, lean back, and pull your knees up. Continue pushing through the bar and pulling the knees until they tap your elbow, or tricep if you’re not strong enough for elbow yet.

    Ball Up/Ball up negative


    From a dead hang, push down into the bar, lean back, and pull your knees into your chest. Continue pushing through the bar and pulling the toes high until they tap the bar, then descend slowly.

    If you’re doing a negative, you can kip your way to the top and catch your feet in the bar. Then, unhook them before you slowly descend.

    Low bar lever (regressions)


    Attach a barbell to a low rack so that it doesn’t roll around. Attach a third band to the middle of the bar and loop it under your low back.

    Hanging below the bar with the band strung around your back, push down HARD into the barbell so that your shoulders drift behind the bar and your hips lift to the height of your shoulders.

    Hold that position as well as you can!

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