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Muscle Up

What is the Muscle Up?

In the world of calisthenics, the Bar Muscle Up is regarded as the gold standard, with many athletes picking up bodyweight fitness in the hopes of achieving one. Performing the Muscle Up demonstrates tremendous pulling and pushing strength as well as upper body power.

If you've been working on your Pull Ups and Straight Bar Dips, then you're already on your way to achieving your first Muscle Up. It's recommended to be able to perform 10 of each before attempting the Bar Muscle Up. A popular alternative to the Bar Muscle Up is the also impressive Ring Muscle Up. The Ring Muscle Up is recognised as being the easier of the two.

In addition to the two types of Muscle Ups, there are also two additional variations for each; kipping and strict. The kipping Muscle Up means swinging during the hang to generate momentum. The momentum is used as a way of generating power which assists in transitioning over the bar. The strict Muscle Up removes the swinging, and is a much more controlled and challenging variation. Mild swinging can be used when learning the Strict Bar Muscle Up, as a regression, but this page doesn't focus on kipping.

Muscle Up demonstration

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How to perform the Muscle Up

To enter the starting position, hang from a straight bar using a False Grip, which helps with the transition. The False Grip is a more challenging grip that places your hands further over the bar. Ensure that you're comfortable hanging with the False Grip before taking on the Muscle Up.

Begin the exercise by performing an Explosive/High Pull Up, a variation of the Pull Up that brings your lower chest/waist into the bar. This helps better position your body to make the transition into the Muscle Up easier.

When your chest comes over the bar, pull the bar into your waist to make the transition. The transition is the most difficult part of the movement, so ensure you're confident with your Pull Ups, High Pull Ups, and Muscle Up Negatives.

After completing the transition, perform a Straight Bar Dip by pushing down into the bar. Finally, lock out your elbows to complete the exercise. Bring your chest back into the bar, and bring your body down around the bar. Keep your elbows tight to your body, and retain the false grip. Finish the exercise in the starting position.

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