Master the Muscle Up (Progressions and Mobility)

March 22, 2017 by VAHVA Fitness

Muscle up is an intense move that combines both upper body pushing and pulling. Here are advice on how to master the strict muscle up. 

Just a couple of years ago muscle up was the move almost everyone wanted to learn. Although the popularity of the muscle up has diminished, it's still high up in the food chain of impressive and effective moves.

Muscle up is a special exercise because it combines so many different aspects of the upper body. First of all, you need to combine both pulling and pushing with a hard transition phase between to complete the movement. 

Just pushing and pulling strength is not enough: many people can do heavy dips and weighted pull ups but they are still far away from being capable of doing muscle ups. The reason is lack of mobility.

Strength is only one element of the muscle up: your wrists, elbows and shoulder girdle also need to be strong and mobile. The mobility of your spine plays a major factor as well.

The transition phase of the muscle up consists of:

  • False-grip: a false-grip will make the muscle up much easier. The false-grip relies a lot on wrist flexion strength.
  • Elbow mobility: Your elbows need to be mobile because the transition phase puts lots of pressure on the elbow joint and requires tons of strength from the triceps.
  • Scapula: Your shoulder girdle needs to rotate and your rotator cuff (internal rotation) is placed under heavy stress.
  • Spine: The easiest way to do the muscle up is to first do a pull up with an arched spine and then round the spine (core - spine flexion) during the transition phase to a dip.

To start practicing muscle ups, you should already be quite good at doing many repetitions of basic pull ups and dips.

The progressions and mobility drills are covered in the video. You can also download a free 30+ page muscle up PDF guide from this link. The guide has all the exercise progressions and workout routines to master the muscle up. These tips apply for both bar and ring muscle ups.

Muscle up is a tough move but once it's mastered, it will build functional strength and mobility in the upper body phenomenally well. It's a hard skill but acquirable with enough hard work.

Train hard, stay safe.


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