A muscle-up is an awesome power move that can be done either on a bar or gymnastics rings. It is a compound movement which means many muscle groups are being worked at the same time to achieve a single movement. This skill will require a pulling and pushing motion to get yourself from a dead hang position to on the top of the bar.
According to research, the pull-up phase is a closed kinetic chain exercise that is designed to develop muscular strength and endurance of both the upper body and torso. When performing a muscle-up, you are targeting both the biceps and triceps during the pull and push phase, which creates a balance between the development of both muscles. The outcome will be symmetrical muscle growth.
There are three phases you will have to go through for a muscle up: the pull, the transition, and the dip. Several muscles in your upper body are required to work together in coordination. The primary muscles worked are the latissimus dorsi, biceps, triceps, trapezius, teres major, anterior deltoids, and pectorals. The secondary muscles worked are the abdominals.
The muscle-up is an advanced level exercise because you will require strong fundamentals, such as being comfortable with doing pull-ups, dips, push-ups, and hanging knee raises. But, don't worry about this too much as the muscle is easy to learn, it's more of a technique, rather than a strength-based skill.
To do a muscle-up, you will need to pass these requirements. This is to ensure you will have enough strength to perform this awesome skill. The requirements are:
If you can complete all of these this means that you have enough strength required to start learning the muscle-up. This is very important because many people try to do a muscle-up, and they could be comfortable with doing pull-ups but are weaker in other areas of their bodies such as dips. Once you have all these strengths checked off, then it will all fall to the technique.
Along with checking off the muscle-up requirements, you can also practice these 3 muscle-up progressions to fast track your progress and develop the strength, endurance, and technique required.
The fundamentals are foundation exercises that every calisthenics athlete should practice. Having strong fundamentals will enable you to achieve any calisthenics skill at a faster rate. These include pull-ups, straight bar dips, push-ups, and hanging knee raises. To do a muscle-up, you will need to pull and push to get yourself on top of the bar. This will also require core strength, along with some momentum to assist you in propelling your body upwards.
It is highly recommended that you superset these fundamental exercises together to condition your muscles for the muscle-up. A superset is a training method where you perform an exercise, one straight after the other with no rest. For example, in a single set, you will:
3 pull-ups, followed by 5 straight bar or parallel bar dips, followed by 8 push-ups, followed by 8 hanging knee raises, with no rest in between them. Once you have completed all of these, you would rest between 90-120 seconds before doing the following set. Do this for 4-5 sets.
You should pick a number for each fundamental that you will be comfortable with and make sure that it challenges you!
If you are a beginner and are not yet comfortable with doing these fundamentals, you can regress to easier exercise variations to develop strength and endurance. You can check out our Pull-Ups, and Australian Pull-Ups article to develop your pulling strength. Also, you can check out our Push-Ups to develop your pushing strength, and Leg Raises to increase your core strength!
The fundamental principle in calisthenics is the enjoy the process whilst you develop your mind and body connect. Don’t rush to achieve your goals, but rather enjoy the little things you have achieved from your workouts!
Negative muscle-ups are an effective way to develop strength, endurance, and condition your body the movement path of the muscle-up. This exercise utilizes the negative, also called the eccentric phase. To perform this you will:
The banded muscle-up is another great exercise to condition your muscles, and get you used to the technique, and transition for the unassisted muscle-up. You should start with thicker bands, and progress down to thinner ones as you get stronger. To perform this, you will:
Begin in a dead position with your arms shoulder-width apart, and hands in a false grip position (very important). Your feet are together, and above ground. Engage your core. This is your starting position.
Create a slow pendulum swing by lightly throwing your legs forward and back. Maintain a false grip and keep your core tight.
At the furthest point of the pendulum swing, kip your knees by tucking them in towards your chest, and subsequently perform a chest-to-bar pull-up. Kipping your knees will give you the momentum to propel your body up and around the bar to get to the top. Exhale as you pull.
Inhale as you return canto the starting position, and repeat this movement between 1-3 reps for 4 sets.
The muscle-up is a compound movement that targets many muscle groups in your upper body, especially your lats, biceps, triceps, and pecs. The pulling motion will improve your pulling strength and size in the biceps, upper back, and middle back. The pushing motion will improve strength and size in the triceps, chest, and anterior deltoid muscles. All of this will aid in your strength development.
You may ask, “can you build muscle using just your bodyweight?”, the simple and short answer is “yes you can!”.
Developing muscle and strength is a by-product of consistent training. You can create conditions in your training regiment to achieve hypertrophy. For example, higher reps and sets performed, and lower rest time. By altering these variables, you can increase the level of tension on your muscles which will assist in the development of muscle definition, therefore giving you a sculpted body.
The muscle-up is one of the first calisthenics power moves that you should learn. Once you have achieved this, it will open a pathway for your calisthenics journey. It will make you feel like you’re on top of the world, which could open up your curiosity and motivation in going for other calisthenics skills such as the handstand, front lever, and back lever.
Once you are able to do a muscle-up, your next goal could be a strict muscle-up which is a harder, and more presentable way to perform a muscle-up. The movement involves you keeping your legs together, without bending the knees, or swinging your legs forward to generate force. To achieve this you will:
The ring muscle-up displays incredible upper-body strength and technique. It requires the coordinated effort of most of your upper body muscles, focusing on the lats, biceps, pecs, front shoulders, and triceps. To achieve this, you will:
To do a ring muscle-up, you will:
This variation heavily relies on the swinging of your legs and hips to create momentum and speed and propel your body upward. You will require to have strong fundamentals before attempting this. To perform this, you will:
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.