The muscle-up is an advanced strength training exercise, within the domain of calisthenics. In a nutshell, it’s a combination routine of a pull-up followed by a dip.
It may sound simple, but it takes serious strength and a lot of practice to master it.
Designed to improve and increase a variety of muscle groups, including your shoulders, hips, chest and triceps, the muscle-up is famous for adding significant strength to your core. Performed as one fluid motion, it essentially transitions your body from a pull-up to a dip. Once mastered with perfect form, you’ll feel like you have really achieved something. This article is designed to help you do just that, whatever your current level, by providing you with 6 great tips on how to perform the perfect muscle-up.
Also Read: HIIT Workout For Sexy, Sculpted Back Muscles
1. Personal Strength
To achieve the perfect muscle-up, you are going to need a lot of personal strength. Therefore, and certainly, for those relative newcomers, it makes sense to start at the beginning. That means basic pull-ups, with sets of repetitions. As you progress with this as an essential part of your fitness regime, you will begin to find it easier. It is at this point you should consider adding weights to your feet or back to increase its intensity once again. So, strap on some dumbbells or kettlebells to your feet or back. Before long, you’ll be feeling the benefit in your back, arms, and shoulders.
Once you gain that all-important confidence in the ability of your strength level, you can move straight into muscle-up basics. Initially, practice the required movements on the ground, with the bar or rings at around your chest level. The technique of the muscle-up using a bar is as follows:
- With your arms extended above your head, hold the bar with an overhand pull-up grip.
- Using more speed than a usual chin-up (momentum is key), the arms pull the body upwards.
- At around chest level, the wrists are then flexed and supinated. This allows the forearms to move above the line of the bar.
- At this point, lean your body forward and straighten the elbows – great for your triceps!
- The technique is completed when your arms are fully straightened and elbows locked (your waist should be level with the bar.
Note: At first, the temptation will be to swing (or kip) your legs up to assist with your momentum. That’s fine. At first. As you get stronger and more versed in the technique itself, there should be no movement of the legs. Thus, in time, you will be performing the exercise from a dead-hang with no kip.
2. Your Ring Grip
When the exercise is performed on the rings, it is important for you to learn exactly how to grip properly. The easiest method is known as the false grip. This is done by placing your wrists high on the rings as you grip them. With practice and your building strength, you will be performing the exercise with your wrists below this point (as in the dead-hang).
The false grip can be practiced initially by simply holding the rings as described with your feet on the floor and leaning backwards. Now pull your chest towards the rings, maintaining your grip. Additionally, you can practice the grip using the bar by using it as you do a set of chin-ups. Be warned; your wrists will hurt at first because of the tension exerted. This does, and will, get better.
3. Now For The Bar
You will know when you are ready to advance to the bar. Don’t worry, we’ll be back on those rings in no time. When using the bar, you’ll soon realize it’s again all about the wrist. They need to move with you. Initially, you can employ a swinging technique (think gymnast). This will assist your momentum. Before you know it, you’ll be well ahead in mastering the muscle-up.
4. Now For The Low Bar…
If, at any point, you feel yourself struggling, go back a few steps. In fact, it’s better to get lower:
- Position the bar at the level of your chest.
- Bend at the knees, extending your arms.
- Repeat this movement rapidly a number of times, checking your wrist positioning each time.
- Repeat but by pushing your knees forward and then back, creating the swing as described previously.
- Pull yourself upward in an arching movement.
Once you’re feeling more confident, you can then move on to the high bar.
5. Your Partner And The Need For Rubber
It’s now time for you to move into the realm of the real, full muscle-up. You will require someone to assist you and a simple rubber band. Your partner is there for your safety. The rubber band can be used to add force to your feet, pulling you downwards. Remember, the time for kipping your legs is long gone. By doing it this way, you will both confidence and power, as, without any leg movement, you’ll be a dead-weight. Once you’re happy, go the real thing.
6. Your Muscle-Up
You now have a choice – bar or rings. Practicing on both is recommended. Whatever you decide, you always need to keep the following in mind:
- Always warm-up and do a post-exercise warm-down.
- Always chalk your hands.
- Before you begin, raise yourself slightly, so you’re not a complete dead-weight.
- Pull both your shoulder blades and elbows in for more core stability.
- You can start with a little motion but the secret is slow into static.
Now Go For It…
So, there you go. These are your 6 great tips for performing a muscle-up: build your strength, practice that grip, master both the bar and rings and then…. just go for it. If you have any other tips you would like to share, please do so in the comments below.
All you have left to do is go and enjoy your new ultimate, muscle-up workout!