Sports & Games

Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles’s Basic Uneven Bars Drills

Written by MasterClass

Aug 20, 2019 • 4 min read

Gliding, pirouettes, and doing handstands on uneven bars are part of the fundamental exercises in women’s gymnastics training and competitions. Uneven bars is the name for a gymnastics exercise and an apparatus of two bars, set to different heights. 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). From double salto to the Tkatchev, stalder to dismounts, practicing and 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.

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.

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10 Basic Uneven Bars Drills

If you’re just starting out, it can help to get comfortable on the bars. You can use gymnastics training bars, which are closer together and set to lower heights, along with gymnastics mats underneath to cushion your fall. Use the following drills as a guide.

Hanging on the Bar Drill
This drill is simple: Grab onto the bar (palms down), and hang. Depending on your height, you can use the low or high bar to practice. This exercise is beneficial for grip strength, forearm endurance, and shoulder strength. Start with 15 seconds, and build up to a minute.

Chin Hang Drill
This drill will help you develop the necessary arm strength to complete a pullover. Pull up to get your chin to the bar, and hang. Make sure your chin stays above the bar. Start with 10 seconds, and build up to 30 seconds.

Chin Hand With Tucked Legs Drill
This drill develops the lower abdominals, which you’ll need for your kip and pullover. Follow the same steps as the chin hang, only this time, pull your knees up toward your chest into a tucked position. Start with 10 seconds, and build up to 30 seconds.

Pull Up and Over Drill
A pullover is a way to get on the bar before you’ve mastered a kip.

  1. With your hands on the low bar, pull up to get your chin to the bar.
  2. Pull your hips up and over the bar.
  3. Arrive in front support with straight arms.

Squat On
To practice moving from the low bar to the high bar, you’ll need to learn a squat on, which is a jump from the low bar to the high bar. Here are some drills to help you learn a squat on:

Ground Rail Squat Drill
This drill helps you practice holding onto the low bar and jumping your feet onto it in order to reach for the high bar.

  1. Using a ground rail, place your hands on the bar with your body in a plank position, simulating the position of the cast. Your feet will start on the ground. Keep your upper body in a rounded position throughout.
  2. Jump both feet onto the ground rail at the same time, as if you were jumping to stand on the low bar. Your feet will land between your hands.
  3. Hop your feet back to plank.
  4. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Low Bar Hop Drill
Take the ground rail squat to the bars, and push it one step further.

  1. Stack mats behind the bars in a way that allows you to have your hands on the bar with your body in a plank position. Your feet will be resting on the mats.
  2. Jump, bringing your feet onto the low bar.
  3. Once your feet land, jump off the bar and catch the high bar.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

Squat On Drill
Repeat the low bar hop without the mats from a little cast, and you’ve got a squat on.

  1. In front support, swing your legs into a small cast.
  2. Pull your legs into a tucked position, and land your feet onto the low bar.
  3. Once your feet land, jump off the bar and extend to a hollow body shape to do a repulsion on the high bar. This will build confidence and the tightness that will allow you to catch the high bar and do a kip onto it.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

Cast to Handstand Press Drill

  1. Sit on the ground in a straddle shape.
  2. Press your hands into the ground, rounding your back and engaging your lower abdominals.
  3. Press your body up and into a handstand. Your legs should be together, and your toes should be pointed.
  4. Begin with one, and then work up to 10 repetitions.

Additional Cast to Handstand Drills:
Press up and hold a handstand first on the ground rail and then on a low beam. The goal is to move into and out of the handstand with control.

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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