Sports & Games

9 Uneven Bars Training Drills: Learn How to Dismount in Gymnastics

Written by MasterClass

Aug 20, 2019 • 5 min read

Gliding, pirouettes, and doing handstands on asymmetrical bars are part of the fundamental exercises in women’s gymnastics training and competitions. The uneven bars are one part of the four events in gymnastics. These gymnastics bars offer ample opportunities for impressive displays of athletic prowess, from double salto to Tkachev, kip, and more.

Whether you’re just starting your gymnastics career or have been training for years, Simone Biles’s MasterClass will help you improve your technique by perfecting the basics of the sport and then using those basics to execute more advanced moves.



What Are Uneven Bars?

Uneven bars is the name for a gymnastics exercise and an apparatus of two bars, set to different heights. The horizontal bars are adjustable in height, are made of fiberglass or, rarely, wood, and are set on freestanding metallic frames. The bars are set to standard heights and widths apart according to the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique, the governing body of gymnastics worldwide:

  • The high bar is set to 250 centimeters (8.2 feet)
  • The low bar is set to 170 cm (5.6 ft)
  • The distance between the two bars varies between: 130 cm (4.3 ft) to 190 cm (6.2 ft).
  • The bars are each 4 cm (1.57 inches) in diameter
  • The bars are each 240 cm (7.9 ft) long

Different Types of Gymnastics

Uneven bars is one of the main events in women’s artistic gymnastics, the others being floor, vault, and balance beam (men’s gymnastics events use parallel bars). In the Olympics, the uneven bars are the second exercise. In an uneven bars routine, the gymnast glides between the two gymnastics bars, using chalk on their hands to maintain a good grip.

Performing well on the uneven bars requires upper-body strength and impeccable timing. Each movement should flow into the next without additional swings, and you don’t want to “muscle through,” or rush, your bar skills. The most dramatic skills for this event tend to be release moves—which could mean going from the low to high bar and vice versa or re-leasing and regrasping the same bar—and dismounts.

What Are Circle Skills?

A circle skill is a movement that “circles” the bar. There are several types of circle skills, some of which are more advanced, but all are achieved by rounding your back and pushing away from the bar.

  • A free hip circle is a circle that goes around the bar and ends in a handstand. A back hip circle is the beginning of this skill.
  • A toe circle is another type of circle skill that requires you to have your feet on the bar.
  • A Stalder circle is a circle that drops and travels around the bar and ends in a handstand.
  • Legs are in straddle position. No toes touch on the bar. A straddle toe circle is the beginning of this skill.

5 Circle Skills Drills

Front Hip Circle

  1. Begin with your hips in a front support on the bar.
  2. Round your back, and press down on the bar.
  3. Extend your upper body to begin the circle, then quickly pike your body, using momentum to circle all the way around the bar and end in front support.

Back Hip Circle

  1. Begin with your hips in a front support on the bar.
  2. Swing your legs into a small cast.
  3. Bring your hips back toward the bar as you allow momentum to circle you backward around the bar, ending in a front support.

Free Hip or Clear Hip Circle

  1. Begin with your hips in a front support on the bar.
  2. Swing your legs to cast horizontal or a handstand.
  3. Use your momentum to go around the bar in a hollow position without touching it.
  4. Open your arms while shifting your hands, and try to finish in the horizontal position or handstand position, as you did in your cast.

Note: It’s best to start this drill on the strap bar and then try it spotted on the bar.

  1. Cast to straddle pike position with your toes on the bar.
  2. Round your back, and push away from the bar. Keep your toes on the bar. This begins the first part of the circle.
  3. Circle all the way around the bar with your toes on the bar.
  4. Try to do three to five circles back-to-back around the bar. Once you’re comfortable circling around the bar, try it with your toes off the bar. Circle all the way around the bar, and you’ve completed a Stalder circle.

Toe On
Note: It’s best to start this drill on the strap bar and then try it spotted on the bar.

  1. From a block, start in a hollow plank position.
  2. Jump to a hollow pike position, putting your toes on the bar and trying to circle around the bar. Once you can do a toe on from a high cast, try to kick up to a handstand at the end of the circle.

2 Giants Drills

Baby Giants Drill
After learning the tap swing, you’re ready to learn baby giants.

  1. Start from a low cast.
  2. Go through tap swing, and circle around the bar with your arms straight. (The second half of the movement is almost like you’re circling in the second half of back hip circle.)
  3. Practice regripping your hands at the top of the bar and circling around the bar.
  4. To do a full giant swing, you need to be able to cast to handstand. When learning, it’s best to practice over a pit and with a spot for safety.

Strap Bar Giants Drill
Practicing on a strap bar will allow you to focus on the body shape and the tap. Practice swinging back and forth until you can build up the momentum to swing all the way around. After you’ve practiced these drills, you’re ready to try a giant. Practice over a pit and with a spot for safety.

2 Dismount Drills

Shaping Prep Drill
This exercise will help you practice transitioning between the two shapes needed for a proper tap swing. It will also help you condition your abdominal and back muscles.

  1. Place a foam roller on the ground in front of the ground rail.
  2. Place your hips on the foam roller, and reach your arms to the ground rail.
  3. Practice going from a rounded chest/hollow body to an extended body shape.

Dismount Drill
An effective way to practice the tap swing for your dismount is to cast, tap, and then layout flyaway, which is a flip off the high bar. Practicing in this way will allow you to maintain an open shoulder angle all the way into the release, which will allow for a natural progression to bigger dismounts and future release moves.

How to Become a Better Athlete

Want to become a better athlete? From training regimens to mental preparedness, learn everything you need to enhance your athletic abilities with the MasterClass All-Access Pass. Gain exclusive access to video lessons taught by world champions, including Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles, World No. 1-ranking tennis player Serena Williams, and six-time NBA All-Star Stephen Curry.



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