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Monkey Bars 101

For those interested in the Monkey Bars at the gym, I wanted to explain their purpose and provide some pointers on how to get across them.

Main uses of the Monkey Bars:

1. Obstacle course training!  We’re proud of our obstacle course racers and feel that OCRs are a great way to get fit with the support of your peers. There’s no better way to prepare for obstacles like Funky Monkey than training on actual Monkey Bars.
2. Fun way to train your grip, core, and upper body.  Monkey Bars are found on playgrounds for a reason – they’re fun!  Getting across them also happens to be one of the best exercises in the gym for grip, core, and body awareness and coordination. It can also be a great way to build all around upper body strength depending on the technique used.
3. Extra location for pull ups.  Those into circuit training may now go from cardio machines or sled pushing straight to pull ups without having to travel to the other side of the gym.
4. TRX stations.  The Monkey Bar rig is a perfect set up for 4 additional TRX (suspension trainer) stations, away from the crowd that occasionally develops in the cross fitness area.

OK great, we have Monkey Bars and reasons to use them… so how do you get across?

monkey bars joey

The three main techniques (illustrated in the video below) are:

1. Hand to hand – This is the slowest technique but takes the least amount of grip strength. Start with both hands on rung 1 with palms facing forward, then quickly move your dominant hand to rung 2, then follow with your non dominant hand to rung 2.  Repeat all the way across, one rung at a time.  You may modify this approach by turning sideways with palms facing each other as shown in the video.
2. Hand over hand – Quicker but takes more grip and upper body strength.  Start with your hands on rungs 1 and 2 with palms facing forward.  Move the hand from rung 1 to rung 3, then the hand from rung 2 to rung 4, and so on.  To go more quickly, keep the arms bent (up to 90 degrees) and use a bicycling motion in the legs to add momentum.
3. Orangutan technique – Requires the most grip strength but least amount of upper body strength and works well if you have long arms.  It’s similar to the hand over hand technique but you keep your arms completely straight and relaxed, and you initiate each swing to the next rung by pulling yourself back first.  With big swings you can skip rungs.  Video is better than words for this one!

Excellent Monkey Bar technique vid:
Monkey Bar Tutorial

Have fun!

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