The muscle up is one of the most respected moves in calisthenics and fitness in general. To do a strict form muscle up requires an immense amount of upper body strength and technique.
In this tutorial, we’ll go over the necessary strength requirements you need for the muscle up and the several progressions you can practice to finally nail the move.
Although there is a skill component to the muscle up (mainly the transition) and it can be made slightly easier with kipping, the muscle up still takes a lot of upper body strength which is why not many people can do it.
Generally before you attempt to learn the muscle up I recommend you require the strength to do at least:
- 10 Strict form pull ups
- 10 Strict form dips
Why we need these 2 prerequisites is quite easy to tell – the muscle up is made up of both a pull up and a dip with a transition in the middle.
Getting strong at the 2 main movements is a MUST to achieving a proper muscle up.
After you have the necessary strength to achieve a muscle up we move onto the progressions.
Muscle Up Progressions
The Explosive Pull up
Always make sure you train the explosive pull up at the beginning of your work outs. You need to generate a lot of power to train them and it’s best to do so when you’re fresh.
The key to the explosive pull up is once your chin is at the bar (usually where you would end your normal pull up) you should focus on pulling your elbows down and back.
This will get the bar up to your nipple or even naval area (which is what we’re aiming for).
Try to do 5 reps and 3 sets. With 2 minutes of rest in-between.
The Negative Muscle Up
The negative muscle up will helps you get used to the movement from the top down. While it might look easy, trying to keep full control while going down will prove to be tough, trust me.
This works great if you have a smaller bar that you can just jump right into a dip on but if you don’t I recommend using a box.
Get on a box right behind a pull up bar and jump up into the top of a muscle up (the dip) and slowly in a controlled manner bring your self down to the very bottom.
Band Assisted Muscle Up
Band assisted muscle ups are a great way to practice the entire overall movement of the muscle up, and especially the transition from pull up to dip – which is the biggest challenge for people new to the muscle up.
Get a band and tie it to a bar, pull it down and put one foot (or two if you need it) on the band and begin practicing your muscle ups.
This is a great way to practice muscle ups and get rid of bad habits like chicken winging yourself to the dip position.
Kipping Muscle Up
You’ve got the strength and the general technique down, now it’s time to perform a kipping muscle up.
The general idea here is to swing back and forwards and on a good swing back you explode up using your knees and go right for the transition and into the dip.
This might look easy (and it is much easier than a strict muscle up) it still takes a lot of strength and technique to pull it off.
Strict Muscle Up
The grand daddy of them all. This should be every muscle up junkies goal in the end.
By now you should have practiced perfect technique and with all that practice from the previous progressions you should have built the strength to slowly ascend yourself from the bottom of a slow pull up into a smooth transition and dip.
Don’t expect to get the strict muscle up so fast – it can take months of practice!