I’ve recently starting climbing on the monkey bars. Kids seem to have little difficultly on the monkey bars, and I’ve read articles that encourage parents to bring kids to the Monkey Bars to prime upper body strength from a young age. When I found adult monkey bars in a park near to where I live, I was amazed I couldn’t make it across. All those Lat Pull Downs and pull ups in the gym didn’t make up for the 20 year time lapse since last I used the Monkey Bars. A little bit of practice and I’ve gotten much better.
Hanging from the bars develops upper body strength and uses the whole upper body in a more general sense. I certainly feel stronger as a result. The more challenging action of swinging from bar to bar requires the use of your whole body, so its a great full body, integrated movement. The largest contributing muscle when traveling across the bars is the latissimus doris, or “lats”, so the bars give you a good back work out to replace the isolated workout you get on the Lat-pull down machine you’ll find in a gym. As well as that, using the bars should increase your shoulder strength and stabilisation, and your grip strength. Its amazing how one simple movement has so many benefits.
And a nice added plus, the act of hanging from a bar stretches your whole body. Below is video of me making my way across the bars, one bar at time, and then swinging from one to the other. Doesn’t look as graceful as it felt, but I’m getting there.