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Remember when you used to swing and hang upside from the Monkey Bars? It used to be so easy right!?!
But now it may be more of a workout than you realize…Although possible still as much fun!
If you are looking to make your workouts more fun, you may want to add in some Monkey Bar Exercises. Monkey Bar moves are a great way to strengthen your upper body and core.
And the best part is you can do these moves at any playground even if you don’t have Monkey Bars at your gym!
9 Monkey Bar Exercises
These 9 Monkey Bar Exercises will strengthen your back, core and grip. If you’re on a playground you could even include these moves in a fun obstacle course across the other equipment!
The nine moves shown in the video are listed below.
1. Basic (or Regular) Monkey Bars – This is a great basic move to work on your lat, core and grip strength.
If you struggle to do the Basic Monkey Bar movement, you may want to start with just a dead hang (working toward a single arm hang) or even step one hand forward and then bring the other hand to the same bar instead of swinging from one bar to the next.
If you have a partner, you can even have your partner assist you by holding your legs a bit to help take some of the weight off your arms.
Once you’ve mastered the basic movement, try the other fun variations below!
2. Skip-A-Bar – This is a harder variation of the basic movement because you have to perform a single arm hang as you reach to skip over a bar. This move will test your grip and lat strength even more!
If you find the Basic Monkey Bar movement has gotten easy, but you can’t yet do the Skip-A-Bar movement, you may want to start with the basic movement and add in one skip. Then go back to the basic move. Then skip again.
Alternate the basic move and the skip until you can do continuous skips!
3. Weaving – While Skipping takes a toll on the upper body because you have to hold on to reach further and then swing on one arm to get to the next bar, Weaving takes a lot of grip strength to walk along the bars.
This move is more challenging than the Basic Monkey Bars because you have to hold and hang for a lot longer to weave along the bars than you do to go straight across them.
If you wanted to make this move harder, you could do little hops to move along the bars instead of walking along the bars.
4. Skin The Cat – The Skin The Cat is a more advanced exercise and a great core and back exercise.
The Skin The Cat also requires more shoulder mobility to be able to go through and extend toward the ground. Only go as far through as your shoulders and core strength allow. If you go too far through, just release the bar and jump down to the ground.
To make this move harder, extend more down toward the ground after flipping through. Or add in a pull up after each Skin The Cat.
5. Side Swing – The Side Swing is a very Basic Movement and may, for many people, even be easier than the Basic Monkey Bars.
However, the Side Swing is a fun move to include that works your body in a different plane of motion. Even if you can do more advanced movements, you may want to include the Side Swing to work your lats and core from a different angle.
To advance the Side Swing, try skipping bars.
6. Typewriter – Another very grip intensive move, the Typewriter, like the Side Swing, works your body from a different angle because you not only move forward but also move laterally.
Like with Weaving, if you “hop” instead of step to the side with your hands, you can make the move harder. It will not only require more grip strength, but also more lat and core strength to hop instead of stepping to the side along the bar.
You can also do the Typewriter along the bar and then swing and skip a bar before moving sideways along the next bar if you want to make the move harder.
7. Monkey Bar Abs – If you want a great core workout, you need to try Hanging Ab Exercises. Beginners may need to start with a Hanging Pelvic Tilt before progressing toward Knees to Elbows or even Straight Leg Lifts.
You can also change up Hanging Abs by moving along the Monkey Bars as you perform a Hanging Ab Variation like Knees to Elbows.
Check out these 10 Hanging Core Exercises to mix in with the Monkey Bar Abs movement shown in the video.
8. Pull Ups – Playing on the Monkey Bars can improve your Pull Ups by increasing your grip, back and core strength. However, because you only get better at doing Pull Ups by actually doing them, you will want to include Pull Ups in your Monkey Bar workouts.
Because, let’s face it, the Monkey Bars are basically one big Pull Up Bar!
You can also mix up your grip and do Chin Ups or Neutral Grip Pull Ups or even Wide Grip to work your back in different ways. And if you can’t do a full Pull Up yet, check out these Pull Up Modifications.
9. Sit Ups – This is a great advanced Sit Up Variation to work your core (although a slightly uncomfortable one in terms of the bars digging into the back of your legs).
The Monkey Bar Sit Ups work not only your abs but your entire core, especially your legs. Make sure when you do these to lock your feet behind the bar to hold yourself securely as you do the Sit Up. Make sure to curl up toward the bar (and not whack your head if there are bars overhead).
Do not attempt this if you aren’t comfortable hanging upside down from the bars. You may even want to start with hanging upside down while keeping your hands on the bar before you advance to the full Sit Up. To advance the Sit Up, you can even slow down the tempo of the movement!
For another great article about why it’s time to “take back the Monkey Bars” and include Monkey Bar Exercises in your workout routine, check out this article in Men’s Health. (It also shows you why you may want to include CRAWLING in your workout routine!)