How to Do Muscle Up: Everything You Need to Know

how-to-muscle-upIf you ask what is the hardest bodyweight training for me, without a doubt, my answer is the muscle up exercise. I have been in calisthenics training for over two years now, but I still suffer to make a few correct ones.

That is might be because I’m about 220 lbs, so a lot of power is required to perform such a move. (It is not complaining. It is my fault) But I will not give up! Never!

Since it is the exercise that is the hardest for me, I have spent quite a lot of time with researching tutorials and tips to prepare my body.

Here I gathered the best sources that have helped me to learn how to do a muscle up and share my experiences.


What is a muscle up?

It is a highly compound exercise that requires all the muscles of the upper body. Here is the definition from Al Kavadlo:

It’s almost like a combination of two of my favorite exercises: the pull-up and the dip, but way more intense than either of those on their own!

This definition cannot be better. Consequently, to perform it, you should be “perfect” at pull ups and dips. What does that mean? You should be able to make at least 15 consecutive pull ups and 20 parallel bar dips.

If you cannot yet, you know your job. Practice, practice, and practice, until you can reach those reps and be strong enough.

If you can already do such amount of reps, you have a good base, enough strength and endurance to start practicing them. Keep reading to learn the best tips and tricks.


How to Do It Correctly

Before talking about the steps, you should understand how a perfect bar muscle up looks like to know what you need to achieve. No kicking, no swinging is the aim. Just pure power you should use.


Did you see how he controlled his entire body to avoid swinging and used the power of his arms, shoulder and chest to push himself up? That is a clean muscle up. It is tough, but do not worry, just follow the next tips.


Muscle Up Progression

I have checked out quite a lot of muscle up tutorial videos, but the following one has helped me the most. In this video, you can learn several exercises that will prepare your body to have enough strength and the right skills. Include these movements in your workout routine.


One more important thing: how to grip the bar!

That is what I did badly for so long. I gripped the bar as if I do traditional pull-ups, but because of this, I could not pull and press myself up (my wrist and elbows were in a wrong position).


Muscle-ups are typically done using what’s called a “false grip” which involves putting your hand farther over the bar, so that your palms are facing the ground and your wrist is cocked when you are hanging. This allows you a smooth transition from the pull-up phase of the movement into the dip phase.

Image & Text Credit: Al Kavadlo

These are tips I followed, and they worked for me well. Although, since each of us is different what works for me, maybe not for you. So, you should test more techniques and exercises if these do not work.



This list could not be complete without mentioning the ring version which is well-known from gymnasts. Almost the same muscles are used, but the technique you need to perform the movement is a bit different. The next video will teach you how to do muscle ups on rings.



Which muscles do muscle ups work?

All the muscles of your upper body: your abs, shoulders, triceps, chest and back. It is an extremely beneficial calisthenics exercise to build strength and develop endurance.

Why is it so difficult?

Because it is a complicated move engaging several muscles at once. Plus, all these muscles should be aligned. And finally, you have to handle your entire bodyweight. It is certainly an advanced movement.

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