Last updated on May 16th, 2022 at 07:09 am
The strict muscle-up is one of the holy grail skills in calisthenics. This movement is no easy task, as it requires a tremendous amount of upper body strength and flexibility to pull, transition, and push up to get on top of the bar. The key component to a strict muscle-up is lower body tension.
If you’re not yet able to do a muscle-up, I suggest you check out this complete muscle-up tutorial where I break down the requirements and progressions to unlock this skill. But if you’ve already made headway in your muscle-up progression, here are four simple and effective strict muscle-up drills to take your abilities to the next level.
First, you will need strong pulling and pushing strength. If you find strict pull-ups and dips difficult, it should be your priority to work towards developing these two fundamentals before aiming for strict muscle-ups.
You should be able to do at least 5 strict chest-to-bar pull-ups, where your upper chest comes in contact with the bar no further below than your collarbone. If you’re stuck at this phase, check out our pull-ups tutorial to build the foundational strength for a muscle-up.
Then, you need to make sure you have strong dips. You should be confident doing at least 5 strict straight bar dips. Having a strong dip will help with the transition to get on top of the bar. This dips tutorial will provide you with some tips and a training plan to strengthen your pushing phase.
A muscle-up is considered an advanced-level skill in the eyes of many. When you train to obtain this skill, you’d train the calisthenics fundamentals which are your pull-ups, dips, and push-ups. A 2022 study concludes that after 16 weeks of training calisthenics consists of 3-5 sessions a week. They observed a significant reduction in visceral fat, fasting glucose, and fasting insulin, which intervenes with diabetes.
Just like everything in fitness, knowing the right cues and techniques will allow you to perform each rep more effectively. You’ll have a better understanding of movement paths and the muscle activated.
When I tell my students to squeeze their glutes hard, they can grasp the strict muscle-up. This is the main cue. Of course, there are other factors that you need to take into consideration, here are four important cues for a strict muscle up
In this section, you will work on all components of a strict muscle-up: pull, transition, push, and body tension. There are four drills that I’d like you to do in this particular order, they will help you to exponentially develop your power and endurance.
Remember the important cue? Squeeze your glutes. This means that for every single drill you must squeeze your glutes and always refer back to the important cues that we’ve covered to remind yourself of the techniques.
The box muscle-up drill is designed to reduce the overreliance on kipping your legs. Keep your feet together, legs straight, and don’t bend the knees. As you get stronger you will kip less and use more upper body strength to do a strict muscle-up.
This drill will increase your pull and push explosive power and train you to get used to having lower body tension throughout the movement. It will be a superset of the chest-to-bar pull-ups and explosive straight-bar dips. Remember to look back at the cues.
Men’s Health agrees that chest-to-bar pull-ups and straight bar dips are necessary components for the bar muscle-up. Master these two exercises and you’ll fly through your muscle ups with ease.
Weighted pull-ups will increase the intensity which helps tremendously with the explosive pulling power needed for the strict muscle-up. It helps to recruit your back muscles to develop mind and body connections. When you take the weight off, you’d feel almost weightless.
One of my favorite pieces of equipment for calisthenics is a weighted vest. Personally, I use my Kensui Weighted Vest when I do weighted calisthenics. I recommend you check out my Kensui Vest Review to see if this vest is right for you.
Ideally, you’d want to start with a weight that is approximately 30% of your body weight and gradually increase it over time.
This is a superset of pull-ups and isometrics pull-ups. Isometrics is an underrated training method because it is associated with a “beginner’s level” exercise. But when you superset this with pull-ups, it will further increase your muscular endurance in your forearms, core, and lats due to longer time under tension.
Try out these four drills to fill in your gaps and you’ll have strict muscle-ups in no time. Remember to keep your glutes tight as this is the key to a strict muscle-up. This is a tough skill, and you may encounter plateaus in your progress because progress is not linear.
But when you work on these progressions consistently, you’ll be rewarded with a strict muscle-up. Do all four drills 2-3 times a week and then your gains will start piling up!.
Looking for more strict muscle-up help? Check out this blog: 4 Calisthenics Exercises To Build a Big Back. It will help you condition your back, biceps, and forearm muscles for the muscle-up.
Our online coaching program offers a personalized plan that tailors each progression according to your strength and regularly applies progressive overload to ensure that you are advancing in your strict muscle-up journey. Register for online coaching here. We look forward to meeting you!
My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.