Horizontal bar

Horizontal bar
Fabian Hambüchen at the horizontal bar
A bar grip (front view)

The high bar, also known as the horizontal bar, is an apparatus used by male gymnasts in Artistic Gymnastics. It traditionally consists of a cylindrical metal (typically steel) bar that is rigidly held above and parallel to the floor by a system of cables and stiff vertical supports. Gymnasts typically wear leather grips while performing on the bar. Current elite-level competition uses a more elastic fiberglass core rail similar in material to the rails used in the women's uneven bars and men's parallel bars apparatus.

The gymnastics elements performed on the horizontal bar are regulated by a Code of Points. A bar routine, which is a sequence of several bar skills, usually includes giant swings with various grips (overgrip, undergrip, dorsal grip, mixed grip), in-bar work, turns, release and regrasp skills, and a dismount. The high bar is often considered one of the most exciting gymnastics events due to the power exhibited by gymnasts during giant swings and spectacular aerial releases and dismounts that often include multiple flips or twists and, in some cases, airborne travel over the bar.



The mechanical dimensions of the high bar apparatus are specified in FIG's Apparatus Norms brochure:

  • Height: 278 cm (including about 20 cm landing mats)
  • Length: 240 cm
  • Diameter of the bar: 2.8 cm


The manner in which the horizontal bar is grasped by a gymnast is called the grip (not to be confused with the leather grips that are worn on the hands). Each grip is commonly used for a particular sets of skills. When gymnasts compete on the horizontal bar they are often required by the Code of Points to use specific grips.

  • The overhand grip, or regular grip, is the standard grip used for the high bar. On the overhand grip the hands circle the bar with the backs of the hands facing the gymnast.[1] A dorsal grip (also known as the dorsal hang) is an overhand grip employed while the gymnast's legs pass through the arms into a "skin the cat" position.[2] The overhand grip is used in giant swings, and the dorsal grip in German Giant Swings.[3]
  • The reverse grip and underhand grip, is the opposite of the overhand grip. The palms of the hands face the gymnast. It is similar to the grip used in chin-ups. Forward giant swings are among the skills that use this grip
  • The elgrip is also an underhand grip, In an elgrip or L-Grip or eagle grip a gymnasts hands are turned 180 degrees outward from an over grip. Thumbs are turned out, but in the opposite direction of an undergrip. This position requires flexible shoulders to swing comfortably.
  • The mixed grip is a combination of the overhand and underhand grips with one hand in each position. This grip can be used to gain more height on release skills.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Bill Sands and Mike Conklin, Everybody's Gymnastics Book, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1966), 42.
  2. ^ Sands and Conklin, 42.
  3. ^ Newton C. Loken and Robert J. Willoughby,The Complete Book of Gymnastics, 6th ed., (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1977), 200.

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