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Let’s look at some questions that you might want to know about using monkey bars.

Which muscles do monkey bars work?

Monkey bars are a great exercise for building upper body strength, particularly in the arms, shoulders, chest, and back muscles. When you perform monkey bars, you engage various muscle groups, including:

  1. Latissimus dorsi: These are the largest muscles in your back, located on each side of the spine. They help you pull your body weight up and across the monkey bars.
  2. Biceps: These muscles are located in the front of your upper arm, and they help you bend your elbow and lift your body weight.
  3. Forearms: The muscles in your forearms help you grip the bars and control your movements.
  4. Shoulders: Your shoulder muscles, including the deltoids and rotator cuff muscles, help you stabilize and move your arms while performing monkey bars.
  5. Chest: The pectoral muscles in your chest also help you lift and move your body weight across the monkey bars.

Overall, monkey bars provide an effective upper body workout that targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

What age can a child do monkey bars?

The ability to do monkey bars can vary depending on the child’s physical development and coordination. Most children will develop the necessary strength and coordination to use monkey bars by the age of 5 or 6 years old. However, some children may be able to use monkey bars as early as 3 or 4 years old, while others may not be able to do so until they are 7 or 8 years old.

It’s important to note that children should always be supervised when using playground equipment, including monkey bars. They should also be encouraged to use proper form and technique to avoid injury. If you’re unsure whether your child is ready to use monkey bars, you can consult with a pediatrician or physical therapist to determine if they have the necessary strength and coordination.

Why are monkey bars harder for adults?

Monkey bars may be harder for adults than for children for a few reasons:

  1. Decreased upper body strength: As we age, our muscle mass tends to decrease, and we may lose some of our upper body strength. This can make it more challenging to pull our body weight across the monkey bars.
  2. Reduced flexibility: Adults may have reduced flexibility in their shoulders and back, making it harder to perform the required movements to swing from bar to bar.
  3. Fear of falling: Adults may be more risk-averse and have a greater fear of falling, which can make them more hesitant to use monkey bars.
  4. Lack of practice: Children tend to play on monkey bars more frequently than adults do, which means they may have developed more strength, coordination, and confidence over time.

It’s worth noting that some adults may still be able to use monkey bars with ease, particularly those who have maintained their strength and flexibility through regular exercise. However, for many adults, monkey bars may pose a greater challenge than they did during childhood.

How long should you hang on monkey bars?

The amount of time you should hang on monkey bars depends on your fitness level and goals. If you are just starting out, you may want to begin with short hanging intervals and gradually increase the time as you build strength. A good starting point for beginners might be to hang for 10-15 seconds at a time.

For more advanced exercisers, hanging on monkey bars can be used as a form of isometric training, which involves holding a static position to build strength. In this case, you may want to aim for longer hanging intervals of 30 seconds or more.

It’s important to listen to your body and avoid overdoing it when working out on monkey bars. If you feel any discomfort or pain in your shoulders, back, or arms, it’s best to stop hanging and rest for a while. You can also consult with a fitness professional to determine the best hanging time and technique based on your fitness level and goals.

Why can’t some children do monkey bars?

There are several reasons why some children may have difficulty doing monkey bars:

  1. Lack of upper body strength: Monkey bars require a lot of upper body strength, and some children may not yet have developed the strength needed to pull themselves up and swing from bar to bar.
  2. Poor grip strength: Children with weak grip strength may have difficulty holding onto the bars, which can make it challenging to move across the monkey bars.
  3. Poor coordination: Coordinating the movements required for monkey bars can be challenging for some children, particularly if they have not yet developed good motor skills.
  4. Fear of falling: Some children may be afraid of falling while using monkey bars, which can make them hesitant to try.
  5. Physical disabilities: Children with certain physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, may not have the strength or coordination required to use monkey bars.

It’s important to note that every child develops at their own pace, and some may take longer to develop the strength and coordination needed for monkey bars. If your child is having difficulty with monkey bars, you can encourage them to keep trying, but it’s also important to be supportive and help them find other forms of physical activity that they enjoy and feel comfortable with.

How to do monkey bars for beginners!

If you’re a beginner, the following steps can help you learn how to do monkey bars:

  1. Start with a low bar: Look for a set of monkey bars where the first bar is low to the ground, so you can practice hanging and swinging without falling from a high distance.
  2. Hang from the first bar: Grasp the first bar with both hands, keeping your arms straight and your feet off the ground. Try to hang for a few seconds at a time, focusing on maintaining a tight grip and engaging your core muscles.
  3. Move to the next bar: Once you feel comfortable hanging from the first bar, swing your body forward to grab the second bar. Keep your arms straight as you swing, and try to land your feet on the ground when you let go of the first bar.
  4. Practice swinging: Once you can move from bar to bar with your feet on the ground, start practicing swinging from one bar to the next without touching the ground. Use your momentum to swing forward and backward, keeping your body in a straight line and engaging your core muscles.
  5. Build up your strength: To improve your strength for monkey bars, you can also try doing pull-ups, push-ups, and other upper body exercises.

Remember to always practice safety when using monkey bars. Make sure the bars are secure and stable, and avoid using them in wet or slippery conditions. It’s also a good idea to have a spotter or to use safety mats to prevent injury in case of a fall.

Are monkey bars better than pull ups?

Monkey bars and pull-ups are both effective upper body exercises, but they target slightly different muscle groups.

Pull-ups primarily work your back, shoulders, and biceps, while monkey bars engage these muscles as well as your forearms, grip, and core. Monkey bars also provide an additional challenge by requiring you to move from bar to bar, which can help improve your coordination and overall body control.

Which exercise is “better” really depends on your fitness goals and personal preferences. If you’re looking to build upper body strength and specifically target your back and biceps, pull-ups may be a more focused exercise for you. However, if you’re looking for a full-body workout that challenges your grip strength and coordination, monkey bars may be a better option.

It’s also worth noting that both exercises can be scaled to suit your fitness level. For example, if you’re just starting out, you may want to begin with assisted pull-ups or hanging on monkey bars for short intervals, and gradually work up to more challenging variations as you build strength and confidence.

How to do monkey bars without hurting your hands

Hanging and swinging on monkey bars can be tough on your hands, particularly if you’re new to the exercise or haven’t built up calluses yet. Here are some tips to help you avoid hurting your hands while doing monkey bars:

  1. Use a grip aid: Wearing gloves, using chalk, or applying grip spray can all help improve your grip and reduce friction between your hands and the bars.
  2. Build up your grip strength: The stronger your grip, the easier it will be to hold onto the bars without causing discomfort. You can build grip strength by doing exercises like grip strengtheners, farmer’s walks, and hanging from a bar for increasing intervals of time.
  3. Use proper technique: Avoid gripping the bars too tightly or clenching your hands into a fist, which can strain your muscles and make it harder to hold on. Instead, try to keep your hands relaxed and open, with your fingers spread apart and your thumbs wrapped around the bar.
  4. Take breaks as needed: If your hands start to feel sore or tired, take a break and stretch your fingers and wrists. You can also switch to a different exercise for a few minutes before returning to the monkey bars.
  5. Gradually increase your time on the bars: If you’re new to monkey bars or haven’t done them in a while, start with short intervals of hanging and swinging, and gradually increase the amount of time you spend on the bars as your hands become more accustomed to the exercise.
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Case Study: Odysseus Platform Gym for Adventure & Play

  • Product Purchased : Odysseus Platform Gym
  • Tallest Bar Height : 2.4m
  • Added Extras : Pegboard, TRX Bracket, 4 x Ladder bars for accessing Monkey Bars, Boxing Bag Bracket, Foot Up/Grab Bars… this gym really does have all the bells and whistles
  • Who is using : Adults and children (recreational fun and family exercise)
  • Age : 4+
  • Customer Case Study : Chris – Staffordshire

Synopsis – The following post is by Project Manager Amy. It takes a look into all the options for a Platform Gym.

What Gym Design was our Customer Looking for?

Chris initially emailed and got in touch with Xorbars because he was just outside our usual installation zone.  He had already been researching our family friendly Zeus and Odysseus Platform gyms and thought they would be the perfect addition to his garden.  On this occasion due to the property / garden’s great access and only being a stone’s throw outside an installation zone, our installer James was willing to go the extra mile. 

With an initial design in mind, we got to work with sketching out various options, discussing what were essentials for this family’s Xorbars’s gym.  A Pegboard was on the wish list which was easily incorporated in place of a 5ft bar.  This adds a next level of difficulty to exercise and an addictive skill, great to keep the kids and adults coming back for another go! 

Xorbars Odysseus design was confirmed; one of our largest gyms, this really does have it all… a Monkey Bar section – a kids favourite pastime, a 5ft square hand cut Platform – great for den building underneath and hanging out, this sits at a height of 1.5 metres but can be lowered or lifted, parallel bars for a dip station – or for children to hang upside down, a winner in our house! and also, two 6.5ft pull up bars for the adults to really get to grips with. 

With our Odysseus gym being a large twelve post set up, we were also able to incorporate a Boxing Bag Bracket, a TRX bracket, Foot Up/Grab Hold bar for accessing the Pegboard and a second set of ladders for accessing the platform too. 

In The Future… 

The customer is also interested in adding a swing to the Monkey Bars / Pull Up Bars.  But the additions don’t stop there… This layout also goes hand in hand with the more restful addition of a Hammock, easily added to the Pull Up bars or even a Slide can be added to the platform which will keep the kids entertained for hours.

There is something to keep the whole family busy!

Three Day Build… in the rain.

Access to the site of the Gym wasn’t an issue at all with a huge private driveway leading up to the open plan garden with the site for the Odysseus being only 20 yards from the parking area.  Unloading the van and setting all materials out was simple and straight forward, water easily accessible which makes installing much easier. 

We ask a lot of questions in our Pre Installation survey’s due to not be able to visit the property prior to installation, we like to determine an straight forward plan of action and ensure we have got everything covered.  To have an area to disperse soil within a reasonable distance for our installers, makes building your Xorbars much more straight forward and knowing all the information ahead of time.

After a quick chat about the gym’s location, installer James got to work measuring out and digging the holes for the posts.  The British weather wasn’t on our side for this installation, but it didn’t dampen the fantastic Odysseus Platform Gym . Incase you were wondering… The cute dog did not help James with this installation.

And the end result…?

Adventure, Play and Exercise all in one place – Designed to combine all the benefits of our calisthenic gyms with the fun of both playing and Parkour (Jumping). There is plenty of room for adults and children to play, jump off and create.

Please get in touch if you would like my help designing your outdoor garden gym.

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Monkey Bars with Two Pull Up Bars

Case Study : David – North London

  • Product Purchased : Monkey Bars with 2 x Pull Up Bars
  • Tallest Bar Height : 2.4m
  • Added Extras : Swing, 4 x Ladder bars for accessing Monkey Bars
  • Who is using : Adults and children (recreational fun and family exercise)
  • Age : 4+

About the Customer

David got in touch with Xorbars, already a design in mind for a Monkey Bar installation and two separate Pull Up Bars which he had provided a sketch of.  The design had one low pull up bar for the kids to roll over and hang upside down on (a kids favourite pastime!) and a high pull up bar with the intention of pull ups for the adults. Based on his design I suggested our hugely popular Cube Gym as it was the difference of adding one bar, it would add strength and stability to have all bars joined together and another bar for even more exercise and fun.

The Cube Outdoor Gym didn’t work with the Garden Design

After discussion about the space/location the gym was being installed into, it was decided that for useability, the Cube Gym wasn’t going to be the best option this time. The garden was a narrow rectangular shape with the gym required to fit lengthways, it would mean one bar of the Cube would be unusable. 

A Monkey Bar it was to be, running parallel down the garden in line with the boundary fence and two 5ft Bars in an L shape off the corner of the Monkey bars. 

4 x Ladder bars were added to the gym for the children to access the Monkey bars, we always recommend having three bars at one end to climb up and then one bar positioned mid height at the opposite end for jumping down or perching on for a return journey.

How far should the monkey bars be from a fence?

The plan was to install the monkey bars along the fence.  In small gardens we generally recommend a minimum distance of 500mm away from a fence or boundary, 800mm in an ideal world just so you have full usability round the gym.

On the day of the monkey bar installation we made some changes

Access to the site of the Gym wasn’t an issue at all with a private access leading up to the back gate, unloading the van and setting all materials out was simple and straight forward, water easily accessible which makes installing much easier. 

Upon seeing the layout of the garden and having a quick chat with our customer David,  installer James made the suggestion to have the Monkey Bars run across the garden width, this enabled the full length of the garden to be useable access, it also created the perfect football goal area underneath ! 

The pull up bars were separated and located either end of the monkey bars creating a Z shaped gym. David wanted to add a swing on the high bar also, so this gave the space between the bars meaning both could be used simultaneously.

Design really doesn’t stop in the office! We always try and be as flexible and adaptive as possible.

Another happy Xorbars customer with this feedback ” The Xorbars are a big success, all 3 of our children love playing on them and my wife and I have been trying some ‘assisted’ pull-ups and other exercises. “

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Which Xorbars Gym is right for me ?

This gets asked a lot in the Xorbars inbox.  Choosing the best outdoor gym for your garden can be somewhat tricky, so we have developed this guide to help you. 

To start with, our first question will be about the usage.  Are children and adults using the gym? Or only adults? We know that children LOVE monkey bars so this is always a firm favourite to recommend but Monkey bars aren’t just for the kids.

Why would adults love Monkey Bars?  Well, pull ups…. the staple bodyweight exercise in any workout for both newcomers and advanced. Our Monkey bars provide two different sized holds due to the outer two bars being thicker. They’re also longer in length, with the advantage of being able to vary your grip width and hand positioning for classic chin ups with palms facing, pull ups with palms facing away, or even accommodating a neutral grip pull up with both palms facing each other. The inner rungs are a smaller diameter bars, the varying size also enables you to swap between wide hold and narrow holds for your pull ups. You have the option to work out the chest muscles with the narrower grip or shoulder and back muscles with the wider grip.
There is also the added benefit that of having four posts with a monkey bar which gives extra stability to your gym.

The Monkey Bar is a popular feature in many of our most popular gyms and there is a huge choice from the simple Monkey Bar to our very popular Cube gym, The Warrior or even the Assault Gym…. check them out on the link HERE.

If only adults are exercising….  Other very popular medium sized set ups include The Mini Multi Gym to the Multi Gym Max, these can be adapted into many gym layouts and provide a great work out for all major muscle groups. Parallel bars are often used as a dipping station in commercial gyms but having them at home enables you to complete a massive range of exercises, from simple support holds and dips to more difficult knee/leg raises or even more advanced full L-sit holds.

If space is a fundamental factor when deciding on your garden gym, then our more compact layouts such as Pull Up and Parallel gyms or Pull Up an Dip Bars are an ideal choice from a functional aspect. The choice of bar size is entirely customizable so all bars at the smallest option, could be 3.5ft length giving you a compact but impressive garden gym.

Perfect for beginners starting out with simple static holds to perfect your grip, progressing to negative dips (or as an interim step , use resistance bands to help build strength and stability to support your body weight). For the more advanced, there are also plenty of dip bar exercises for abs to add to your workout too. Knee raises to start, then onto leg raises which are ideal for working out the abs and obliques as well as your hip flexor muscles.

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What are the top 5 customer questions?

Hello, I’m Amy…. Project Manager here at Xorbars. I started in April 2021 and have really enjoyed learning the ropes.  My role as project manager is to manage the installation of our garden gyms from concept through to completion. 

As you can imagine I get asked a lot of questions, BUT on average many of the questions are very similar.  So I thought that I would put them down on our blog just in case one or two of them are what you are looking for  So here are the TOP 5 questions I get asked!

Q1: Can I design my own gym?

YES absolutely!  We love to see your designs. Sometimes it’s the parents that take charge but often it is the kids that have very specific ideas on what they require.

Take a look at the DESIGN YOUR OWN GYM section on the website when designing your own Xorbars gym. You can have a play about with layouts, dimensions and add varying accessories to get it exactly how you would like for your personal usage. This obviously varies from family to family depending on ages of users, the space you have for your garden gym and which type of workout you’re after. 

Remember you can use this for both an installation or DIY quote too.

Your design does not have to be perfect.  Once we have received your design/sketch/work of art , we can advise on stability and useability of your custom design and get you a bespoke quote specifically for this.

Q2: You don’t install in my area; do you recommend anyone or what are my options?

Unfortunately we cannot cover all of the UK. 

At the moment we can offer you full DIY kits of most of our products.  Some are shown on the website and some are waiting to be uploaded.  If there is a product you would like a DIY for which is not there, then please email in for a quote.

With our DIY kits you will receive everything our installers take on a job. 

These can be installed by yourselves (if you have moderate DIY skills). You can also give us a call beforehand if you would like any advice or guidance, sometimes a friendly chat can give you the confidence you need to get the job done.  We can book you a time slot with an installer too.  So you can go over any questions you may have. The DIY option does require a certain amount of work prior to installation, posts need to be sanded / planed and oiled. All bars come with coach screws and washers included within the kit and our DIY Option also comes with Postsavers to add longevity to your posts. Postsavers are designed to protect the bottom (ground level) from rot.

For a guide on installing a pull up bar, please see the guide to outdoor pull up bar installation.

Another option would be to find a landscape gardener or builder in your local area who would be able to install for you. Simply show them the design and explain that you will have everything on site (except for postcrete – 2 bags per post on average).  Most professionals will easily install our gyms to the same exacting standards as we do.  And we are also happy to speak to them too should they need any advice.

Q3: Which varnish/oil can I use to maintain my Xorbars posts?

Whilst all of our posts are treated by the sawmill and we offer further protection as part of your installation, we do recommend treating the wood regularly.  The simple fact here is that the wood is designed and protected to last – however by regular easy maintenance, you will prolong the life or your gym.

We do want to stress the importance of proper maintenance, which in short is making sure that you treat the posts twice a year with a wood preservative, stain or oil. We recommend that at the beginning of the summer and then at the beginning of winter you apply a coat of any wood preservative, protective oil or stain. This will help to continuously nourish the wood and maximise the lifespan. 

Will the wooden posts crack or split?

At times, as the weather heats up, the cracks can appear almost overnight and at first can be somewhat alarming. But this is the nature of wood. This is something that will most likely happen but it is not something to be alarmed about. Because the cracks often run down the centre of the wood it can look like the bolts that attach the pull up bars to the posts are causing the wood to split. This is NOT the case.

For further information please see our more detailed blog post on splitting wood.

Q4: What is the maximum weight of Boxing Bag I can use on your bracket?

We have had our bars tested to a static weight of 300kg so the boxing bracket itself can easily hold that weight. Ideally the boxing bracket would be best positioned on a central post and not one in isolation to main frame. This would provide the most structural support. It is recommended the you use the boxing bag (when part of an Xorbars gym) for conditioning training – personally we save the heavy duty boxing for the gym.

Q5: What is the warranty on installed Xorbars gyms?

Xorbars installed gyms have a 12 month Guarantee (Parts & Labour). All gyms also come with a 24 month Warranty on any defected parts (does not include labour). Both cover the functionality of the equipment and do not include chipped paint or checking of posts (see above for wood checking info). 

Fun Fact: we have been installing gyms for 7 years and to date have only received three maintenance calls.   

Well that’s the TOP 5.  I bet you are now thinking – well none of my questions are even there!  If that is the case or if you just have many more questions then head over to our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section here FAQ’s.​ 

Failing that, please email me using the contact us page.


Amy (Project Manager)