As my OCR friend James Grbac said, the muscle up is the holy grail of moves. I’ve been going for it since last year. There are lots of YouTubes on how to do it. I’ve tried everything. My definition of success looks like this: starting from a dead hang, complete a full muscle up in one fluid motion without a kip. I want the hardest one. Then I will know I can do the easier ones. In fact, I can already do a six-foot wall or bar muscle up just by jumping a bit. No, I want to be able to do it on say an eight-foot inverted wall. No more chicken wings or legs ups. We’re talking Bart Conner style here. Is that too much to ask of a 185-pound, 56 year-old guy?

I noticed for a couple years a Facebook ad for Barstarzz. These were videos of guys up in Brooklyn, NY doing all kinds of tough moves on playground bars. They were totally ripped, getting flipped, and jamming to some cool tunes. What resonated with me was the playground. Same place I trained when I worked up there. But I never saw these guys. I felt like I missed out. So when the price was right back in the fall, I snatched up Barstarzz Beast on the Bars for $29. I figured I wasn’t out too much if it didn’t deliver.

Grip Strength and Hang Time Essentials

The program is sixteen weeks, broken up into four equal phases. I just completed Phase 1. At this point, here’s what Barstarzz said I should be able to do – five pullups and jumping muscle ups. Well, I could already do those before I started the program. But I did not draw any conclusions yet. First, let me take you back four weeks to the beginning. By day four, the program has you do four sets of one pull up, a 30-second plank, ten push-ups, and ten bodyweight rows. I could already do way more than that. So I did more than they asked. In addition, I put a lot of focus on the things I didn’t do often or at all. Things that I believe will contribute to the muscle up. These are the building blocks, the basics. Hanging knee lifts and negative chin-ups have been my mainstay for the month.

106th St. NYC Playground with two giant rigs

And I’ve noticed a huge difference in my core strength and explosive power. At the 25% complete stage, I’m happy. Here’s a few things I know and a few I don’t know at this point.

Would I recommend the product? Has it delivered as promised? I’m not ready to levy that decision yet. Here’s my hang-up. Personal story. About ten years and forty extra pounds ago, I started P90X. On day one they wanted me to be able to do maximum pull-ups. I could do zero. In fact, for the next six months I could not do one unassisted pull-up. So when Barstarzz expects you to do one pull-up on day one, some clients may need to understand their limitations, possibilities, and expectations. Assistance may be necessary. That may include kipping, bands, or chairs. The difference comes across in the videos.

Me doing the vertical human flag back in 2015

Barstarzz provides excellent instructional videos. Each move is detailed in stop-action format along with overlay graphics highlighting proper form. You also get daily performance tracking worksheets. But unlike P90X, they don’t give you quite as much on the how to get there when you can’t even do one rep. Tony Horton is really good at that. Barstarzz, not so good. So as long as you know that going in, you have a plan, and you have the resources to help you where needed to get from where you are to where you want to be, you’ll be okay.

That’s the thing with these off-the-shelf programs. You are where you’re at. Programs like these are very technical and very difficult. If they are not in your wheelhouse, but you really want it, then you need to find a way to get there apart from the program. Adapt. Work hard. Find answers. Don’t give up.

Barstarzz offers a whole lot more than the muscle up. By sixteen weeks they want you doing things like levers, planche balance, handstands, the human flag, and a whole lot more. They have terms and moves I have never heard of. I want them all. I want to emerge from winter and onto the obstacle courses a better athlete. Stronger, more flexible, greater range of motion, and able to master the technical portions of obstacles even better than I do now. I have no doubt that Barstarzz will be a part of helping me to do that.