The uneven parallel bars, or sometimes known as asymmetric bars, is made up of two bars of different heights, supported by a metal frame and metal wire cables. A gymnast mounts the bar, performs swinging elements, attempting to keep a flowing rhythm, and then dismounts.
Deductions are taken if the gymnast falls off the apparatus, fails to complete a skill adequately, breaks the continuity of the routine, or has form breaks.
Levels 5 and 6 have prescribed compulsory routines, composed of elements that must be performed in order and within specific allowed parameters. The optional-level gymnasts must compose and perform routines that meet pre-determined requirements. The best bar routines meet the requirements, flow smoothly from one skill to the next, showing power and amplitude while at the same time showing control and good form, and finally a stuck landing.
The various bars skills, as are skills for beam and floor, are divided into five categories, A being the group of the easiest skills, to D and E which are the most difficult. Bars skills are dependent highly on the strength of the arms and abdominal muscles.
Each bar's height can be adjusted to suit the gymnast, as can the distance between them. The bars themselves are made of wood and are held up by an adjustable metal frame. The frame is held in place by a set of cables tightly secured to the floor.
Gymnasts use chalk (magnesium carbonate) on their hands to reduce the friction between the palms and the surface of the bars. Gymnasts with sensitive hands or gymnasts who work out a great deal on bars may opt to use hand grips, which are leather coverings for the palms designed to reduce friction and provide a more stable grip on the bar.