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The Definite Guide to the Muscle Up

by ryan pitts January 25, 2016


Whether you are doing your very first muscle up or has been trying to do it without any luck of success, this definite guide is for you. Muscle up is one of the most desired exercises of athletes despite its difficulty. For most athletes, getting their first muscle up are definitely a memorable experience.  If you haven’t done it yet, you will surely remember the place and time you first do it. Most of all, you will also remember how great it makes your body feel.

A muscle up is basically a fluid and seamless body movement where the body successfully transitions from the highest pull up to the deepest dip. Doing your first muscle up is comparable to climbing fences and walls. It will truly test your upper body strength. There are two main types of muscle ups: ring muscle up and bar muscle up. A ring muscle up is basically done with the help of two hanging rings while the latter is with a concrete bar.

Preparing for Muscle Up

  1. Do your straight pull ups

A muscle up is a series of body movements that require strength. It is a combination of pull ups and dip. If you develop your strength with straight pull ups, there is more chance of succeeding. It is very important to practice pull ups because it is what will bring you to the dip. If you are not strong enough to pull yourself up, you are never going to get to that dip and momentum.

Exercises you can try are strict pull ups and chin ups. You can even make them more challenging by adding some weights on your feet. Remember that you need to develop you upper body strength and power most especially to your arms, shoulder, and back.

  chinup picture

  1. Practice your dips

Since a muscle up involves dips, practicing this movement individually will help your muscle stronger. It would also improve movement speed. Practicing dips means developing your strength, stability, and range of motion. It is important to know how to perform dips since they would greatly contribute to your skill improvement. You may practice with push ups, overhead press, and assisted dips too. Bench dips are also a great way to develop your strength. You can also make this drill more difficult by adding dumbbells and barbells between your thighs.

Credits: Oxygen Magazine

Getting Your First Muscle Up

A muscle up mainly consist four movements: hanging from a pull up bar with a false grip, pulling oneself up, rolling the chest over the bar, and pressing the hands down while driving the body upward. For anyone who is not used to the movements and techniques applied in muscle up, it may feel a bit unnatural and difficult. Check out the video below to see the each technique and position closely.

Muscle Up on Rings and Bar Tutorial

This tutorial by Iron Forged Athletics on ‘Kipping to muscle ups and butterfly pull ups’ will guide you on the step by step key positions and movements for both ring muscle up and bar muscle up. Having the knowledge on the key positions will make you more successful in doing your first muscle up.

Muscle Up Progression with Carl Paoli

Now that you have an idea of the key positions, it is best to practice muscle up progression. This video features tips and tricks from Carl Paoli, a gymnast expert who is also heavily involved with the CrossFit community.

Doing muscle up is a hard physical activity, however, with the determination, hours of practice, continuous drills, and correct techniques; you will be able to get over that seemingly elusive obstacle. Drinking supplements and eating the right food would also be helpful. At the end of the day, we hope for your success! This may even be your new favorite WOD. Don’t forget to share your success story with us.

ryan pitts
ryan pitts

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