Reasons why you still cannot do a bar muscle up

Doing some clean muscle-ups in a gym or calisthenics park will impress everybody around you. It looks like you have insane pulling strength. The reason you are reading this is that you probably are struggling with the bar muscle-up. If that is the case, you came to the right place.

In this post, I will discuss some reasons why you probably still cannot do a muscle-up. Continue reading because I will also give a couple of tips on how you can progress faster and finally get your first muscle-up.

Let’s dive into it!


The first problem a lot of people have is the lack of traditional pull and push strength. The bar muscle-up is a combination of a pull-up and a dip. If you lack in either one of these exercises the muscle-up will be a real challenge. You should aim for at least ten pull-ups and fifteen straight bar dips, strict form. If you cannot do this, I suggest working first on your basics before even trying the muscle-up.

The technique to the bar muscle up

The second problem is the technique. There are plenty of people who can easily do 10 pull-ups but still are not able to perform a muscle-up. The bar muscle-up is not all about strength. It is more about having the right technique. It is the most challenging part of learning the skill and likewise very important if you want to prevent injuries. You also see lots of people who can do this sloppy muscle-up, where they get on top with one hand first, then their second hand. Doing this can really hurt your shoulders, and I suggest not trying to learn the bar muscle-up this way.

Okay, good to know but, what now, how do we fix this?

First things first, if you lack basic push and pull strength, you need to improve that before you progress any further. Try to achieve the ten strict pull-ups and fifteen straight bar dips. You can also start doing explosive/high pull-ups. Because the faster and higher you can pull, the easier the muscle-up will be.

Alright, but what if I can do enough pull-ups and dips but still cannot do a bar muscle up?

This is where you should work on getting that proper technique. I cannot see what your muscle-up looks like, so I cannot give you any improvement points where you should work on, however, I can give you some tips and exercises that helped me achieve the bar muscle-up.

Do the negative.

To do the negative of an exercise. You need to jump up and let yourself down slowly. It is also possible with a muscle-up. I recommend doing this on a lower bar. Because it is a pain in the A** to climb up on the bar repeatedly. Try to go down as slow as possible. The benefit of doing this exercise is that you get to know the movement. You will learn the correct technique eventually.


You can also use resistance bands to progress faster. Depending on the kind of bands you use, The exercise will get easier. You can use the bands to perform your first assisted muscle-ups. If this is easy, use a resistance band with less resistance. Eventually, you can do an unassisted bar muscle-up. You can use the resistance bands to get to know the movement, and improve your technique and develop more strength. 

Grip strength

Another tip I can give you is to practice the false grip and increase your grip strength. With the false grip, you grab the bar like the picture below.

False grip

This grip is not easy to do, but it makes the bar muscle-up much easier. With the false grip, you do not need to rotate your hands, when you go from the pull motion to the dip.

Having good grip strength is underrated but very important. It can make the difference in failing or pulling yourself up one more extra time. To practice grip strength, you can train, for instance, one arm hangs. There are many more exercises to improve your grip strength. I have made a whole post about this subject. Click here to view it.


If you implement all these tips, you will eventually be able to do a bar muscle-up. But, one of the most important things to have in mind is that it takes time. Patience is really important. Do not rush things, only bad things will happen. Have patience, and you will achieve it one day.


If you are interested, you can also invest yourself in a workout program to learn the muscle-up. With a course, you will definitely learn the bar muscle-up. However, I suggest to do it without. The only benefit you will be having is that you achieve it a lot faster than if you would do it without a workout program. So if you are interested, click here to view the course.


First, we discussed the reasons why you still cannot perform a muscle-up. The first reason was because of the lack of strength. The requirements for the bar muscle-up are at least ten strict pull-ups and fifteen straight bar dips. If you are already able to do these requirements and still not be able to do a muscle-up. It is because you do not have the technique right. You can improve your form with resistance bands and doing the negative version of the muscle-up.

If you apply these tips and have patience, you will get your first bar muscle up soon!