November 19, 2023

How to Do a Muscle Up

The muscle up is a highly-skilled calisthenics movement that requires a high level of relative upper body strength. As a result, many exercisers can perform flawless pull ups and straight bar dips but struggle to get their first muscle up. While the difficulty of achieving a muscle up is significant, there are some simple things that can be done to help improve your chances of success.

Muscle Up Progression

The best way to learn how to do a muscle up is by following an established progression. This approach allows you to practice the pulling, transition, and pushing phases of a muscle up before merging them into a single movement.

Begin by grabbing a bar with an overhand grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder-width. Hang from the bar, a position known as a dead hang, with your arms straight and together above the ground (A). At this point you should be comfortable performing a set of 3-5 reps of the high pull up. Aim to perform the highest number of repetitions that you can while maintaining proper form.

Once you’ve mastered the high pull up, it’s time to progress to the transition phase of the muscle up. When hanging from the bar, kip your knees up and tuck them into your chest to generate additional momentum for the chest-to-bar pull-up (B). As soon as you feel the necessary shift in momentum, kick your legs up to create a pendulum swing that will propel your body upward into the chest-to-ring hanging position (C). From here, call on the strength that you’ve developed during your progression work to press yourself downwards into a full dip.


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