Back Exercises

20 Muscle-Building Bar Exercises That Are Insanely Effective

Try these killer bodyweight moves at a playground or on parallel bars in the gym.

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pullup

1. Pullups

How to do it: Grasp the bar with an overhand grip. Keep your legs straight, and glutes and core engaged as you pull your chin above bar. This is referred to as a tactical style pullup—often used in the military and by gymnasts. Because your legs are kept straight and slightly in front of your body as you pull up, your core is firing and stimulated, which protects your lower back and capitalizes on full-body tension.
Reps: As many as possible 
Sets: 5 (work up to 10 as you progress) *The key here (as with all the exercises that follow) is to keep solid form. Don’t cheat to get reps and sets if your strength isn’t there yet. Begin with 5 sets of 5 reps, and work your way up to 10. Hypertrophy is the key to muscle growth and strength gains, so keep adding as you progress.) 
Rest: Beginners completing fewer sets can take 30 sec to 1 min; advanced athletes completing higher sets take 3-5min. 
Note: To make it harder, advance to L-Seat Pullups by lifting and holding your legs out in front of you at a 90-degree angle. Complete 5x5. 

2. Lateral Moving Pullups

How to do it: Essentially, you swing from left to right as you move laterally across one of the parallel bars.
Reps: 5 each side
Sets: 5 (work up to 10 as you progress)
Rest: Beginners completing fewer sets can take 30 sec to 1 min; advanced athletes completing higher sets take 3-5min. 

3. Hand Over Hand

How to do it: This is the basic or regular monkey bar movement. Keeping your arms straight to slightly bent, make your way across the monkey bars and back as smoothly as possible. You can swing your legs or let them dead hang as you move from one bar to the next. This is a phenomenal grip strength builder. 
Reps: Go all the way down the monkey bars and back.
Sets: 5
Rest: Beginners completing fewer sets can take 30 sec to 1min; advanced athletes completing higher sets take 3-5 min. 

4. Side to Side Swinging Pullups

How to do it: These are similar to the lateral moving pullups, only you’re swinging your legs from side to side to gain momentum  as you execute a pullup on one side, then you swing laterally and do a pullup on the other. This is an excellent exercise for your lats, grip strength, and full body overall.  
Reps: 5
Sets: Try to get as close to 10 as you can.
Rest: Beginners completing fewer sets can take 30 sec to 1 min; advanced athletes completing higher sets take 3-5min. 

5. Bar Kips

How to do it: Starting from the bottom of a pullup position—your legs dead hanging straight down—begin to swing your body into a hollow position. To do this, pull your belly in and extend your legs out so they’re slightly in front of your body. Your shoulders are the prime movers here. When your body is squeezed and forward in the midst of the hollow position, your body will resemble the letter C. Next, forcefully pull back so your body and chest move forward and your legs move back behind your body (think of creating an inverted C). Keep alternating these two motions until you can see above the bar. When you can pull high enough to see above the bar, pull into the bar, then quickly push away, swinging back into the forward position (inverted C). From here, you’ll drop down to the hanging position and begin again.

Expert tips:
1. Get this rhythm down. Practice transitioning from the front to inverted C formations before you try pulling up to the bar and push away at the top.
2. To help you pull and gain momentum, you want to pull your hips up towards the bar and pull your hands down towards your hips—simultaneously and forcefully.

Reps: 5-10
Sets: Try to get as close to 10 as you can.
Rest: Beginners completing fewer sets can take 30 sec to 1 min; advanced athletes completing higher sets take 3-5 min. 

SEE ALSO: 6 Moves for Sick Lats 

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