I chose this picture from Bondi Beach in Australia for this post on high bar get-ups and ab training because the guys down under are great admirers of bodyweight training like me. There are some fantastic athletes in OZ. It is strange how this Australian coast looks so much like some of the rocks that I like to gaze at the sea from at the Bulgarian Black sea…
High Bar Get-ups Burn Fat and Build Six-Pack Abs
The high bar ab get-up is a very exhausting move and burns a ton of calories. Its difficulty level, as far as energy requirements go, are right up there with the power clean from the hang.
Because one of the main movements in this complex exercise is the lifting and swinging of the legs upward, the high bar get-up is an excellent abdominal exercise. In fact, you can base your whole routine on this drill, provided that you dedicate yourself to getting really good at it – which means being able to do 15+ reps.
A Great Measurement of Relative Strength
You cannot be fat or weak and be good at this exercise. As a bonus – the better you are at the high bar get-up, the better you will look. You will have a defined six pack, a small waist, a developed v-shaped back and powerful shoulders and traps. The get-up also trains your grip and makes you mentally tough. Can’t beat that.
What is the High Bar Get-up
This is a gymnastics move that involves all your upper body pulling muscles as well all your abdominal muscles. You basically will do a half pull-up, then raise your legs and swing them up.
At this point you will continue pulling with your back muscles until you reach an inverted position. Finish off by shrugging so that you are able to clear the bar. You will find yourself with your arms extended at the top of the bar.
How to Get Good at High Bar Get-ups
The simplest answer of course is to repeat the exercise lots and lots of times. That being said, getting stronger at the individual elements that are involved is another way to ensure success. This means getting stronger at pull-ups and hanging leg raises.
- Start in a pull-up position. The beginning of the movement is just like a regular pull-up.
- Do a half pull-up. Start by contracting the lats and pulling yourself up a bit.
- Lift your legs up and look back. At this poing hold the half-pull-up position and contract the abs thus lifting the legs. Don’t look at your legs! It’s impossible to do the get up this way, because this is a rotational move – you swing around the bar. So you cannot swing your legs up AND look at them at the same time.
- Continue lifting your legs and pulling. You need to exert more force her. Pull.
- Pull and shrug to pass the bar. You will find yourself in an inverted position with the legs almost ready to pass the bar. Use all your force – pull and shrug so your waist reaches the bar.
- You will find yourself on top. You did it! Now carefully slide down OR reverse the movement.
Here is a video we shot of the high bar get-up. The move is simple really, once you have basic strength. Pull-up, lift the legs, look back, pull more and finish.
The key to getting good at a complex move like this is a high training volume and an avoidance of forced or “failure” reps. The exercise involves a lot of muscles – basically all the pulling muscles and the whole abdominal wall.
Because of this, forced reps only tire the muscles that work in the final portion of the move. This is a poor trade-off, because those “failing” reps exhaust the nervous system and you cannot perform more sets or recuperate well enough.
Other Ideas for Abdominal Training
Getting stronger abs will greatly aid in getting better at the high bar get up. Here are a few ideas from some of my favorite blogs:
- My 5 Favorite Fat Burning Exercises Vic Magary from Gym Junkies gives a solid list of abdominal training ideas.
- Hollywood Abs: The Best Exercises for a Six Pack Craig Avera shares the strategies he personally uses to get a set of film-ready six pack abs.
- Ditch The Crunches And Learn To Really Work Your Abs Scott Kustes from Fitness Spotlight shares 2 new cool static hold ab exercises.