Learning The Basics Behind A Muscle Up

Learning The Basics Behind A Muscle Up

You've heard of a pull-up and a dip, but now bodybuilders and CrossFit fanatics everywhere are opting out to incorporate another chest involved exercise to their daily workout regime which is called a muscle up.

A muscle up is simply a pull-up that is followed with a dip motion, so it's a combination of a pull-up as well as a dip. You can either use a bar or a set of rings to perform a muscle up, so you can conveniently perform this at home or the gym.

Out of the three motion mentioned above, muscle ups are hands down the most difficult to accomplish since a lot of individuals find it difficult to transition between a dip and pull up without having their arms give out.

How To Do A Muscle Up?

Before you figure out how to correctly perform a muscle up, you'll need to train your body so it can support you while you attempt to do a muscle up.

Muscle Up Progression: Training To Expert

  • Perform Strict Pull-Ups: You’ll need to have a strict pull-up underneath your belt before you can go on to a harder exercise such as a muscle up.
  • Strict pull-ups play a role in developing your trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and other muscle groups located around your chest and arms, which come in handy when you're doing a muscle up.
  • As a side note, when you practice by performing a strict pull-up, it’s recommended not to use the suicide grip which consists of curling your thumb next to your fingers, but instead to grip with your thumbs placed underneath the bar.
  • Develop Core Strength: You shouldn't forget about improving your core strength since a muscle up requires more than just arm and chest strength to achieve a single rep successfully.
  • Core exercises that will help to strengthen your abdominal muscles so you can easily perform a muscle up consists of crunches, push ups, planks, and deadlifts.
  • Perform a Kipping Pull Up: Other than strengthening your muscles as part of your muscle up training process; you'll also need to develop your skills and movement techniques, so you don't risk injuring yourself by incorrectly performing a muscle up.
  • To perform a kipping motion, two elementary skills that are ideal to start honing are the hollow and arch since they’re two movement phases involved in the kipping motion.
  • You can start practicing the hollow and arch on the ground and make sure to position your legs as you would if you were performing a kipping pull up on a bar. Specifically, your legs will be glued together in a straight and tight fashion and will stay this way while you transition from a hollow position to an arch position.
  • You'll know you'll have mastered kipping pull-ups when you can perform ten or more of them back to back with no problems or strain.

Step By Step: Performing A Muscle Up

Now that you have an idea of the amount of training involved that will lead up to you expertly achieving a muscle up, you can use it as a guide to help you incorporate muscle ups to your exercise routine.

  • To get yourself into position, you’ll need to use a pull-up bar and hang from it with a false grip, which consists of your thumbs being placed on top of the bar and not around it.
  • Once your hands and arms are locked into place, you’ll want to use all that arm strength training to pull yourself up to the point where your chin is bar level.
  • The moment your chin is on the level with the bar, you'll have to use the bar as support to roll your chest over so you can transition from a pull-up to a dip.
  • After the rolling motion is complete, all that's left is the press your hands in a downward motion and continue to push your body upwards, which is the "dip" part of the muscle-up.

Range Of Motion In Muscle Ups

Since a muscle up consists of a pull-up and a dip, it's no surprise that you need to separately master hot to perform a clean pull up and dip with a full range of motion.

A full range of motion exercise helps to keep your joints flexible, so you don’t endure any injuries to your elbows and knees, which is common with muscle ups.

By performing exercises stressing full range of motion movements, such as Russian dips, you're allowing your body to gain the muscle strength it needs to apply one hundred percent control over your ability to perform a muscle up.

List Of Exercises To Consider That Improve Your Range Of Motion

  • Isometric Chin Up Hold
  • False-Grip Pull Ups
  • Russian Dips
  • Forearm Push Ups

Muscle Ups Vs. Pull Ups

When comparing pull-ups to muscle ups, the latter is considered to be more of an achievement since they are harder to achieve and only a handful amount of people can do so.

You'll notice that individuals who partake in hiking expeditions, as well as parkour, find muscle ups to be a much more useful exercise since it consists of complex transitions and movements. In fact, muscle ups combine difficult transitions with strength building movements to result in the ultimate workout experience.

Muscle Up On A Bar

Pull-ups are much more of an isolated action that doesn't require any transitional skill, so you shouldn't expect your parkour abilities to improve if you solely dedicate your time to performing pull-ups as part of your training regime.

Bodybuilders to professional athletes all agree that muscle ups are the optimal exercise that will ensure you improve on all physical activity related facets of your life without having to wait months at a time for results.


Now that you have a thorough understanding of what a muscle-up is and how it can enhance your physical capabilities, you should begin training now, so, within a month's time, you can show off at the gym and have everyone asking you for tips.

You can’t go wrong incorporating muscle ups since not only do they strengthen your muscles but also improve on your transition motion skills when it comes to moving from exercise to exercise without having to lock your joints into place.

In regards to a muscle up, you’ll know you can call yourself a master when you can effortlessly transition from a pull up to a dip without breaking a sweat, which is harder than you may think.



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