Learn How To Do a Muscle Up

If it's not on your to-do list for body weight exercises then you're not trying hard enough
The pull up, the transition, the dip. Simple, yeah?
The pull up, the transition, the dip. Simple, yeah?

The muscle up is the mutant love child of the pull up and the dip. With it’s roots as a basic gymnastics move, the popular exercise is a staple of the crossfit world and a cornerstone of freestyle calisthenics. There are essentially three parts to the muscle up: the pull up, the transition, the dip. Mastering this with good form is a kind of rite of passage for anyone serious about body weight fitness training. But like a lot of things in calisthenics, it’s not just strength but technique.

This article covers the technical basics of how to do a muscle up with bars. So if you only have a set of rings then there are tons of tutorials out there for muscle ups with rings (here, here and here). Also, make sure you understand the concept of the ‘false grip’. Essentially, the false grip is a challenge in of itself to achieve but it actually allows for easier muscle ups once it’s learned (learn here) because it allows you to kind of cheat through the ‘transition’ stage of the muscle up and it also allows for easier slow muscle ups. I’ll let Ed Checo from BarStarzz explain here. Some other ways to make the muscle up easier is to use a ‘kipping pull up’ to get the momentum to gain height and get your chest over the bar. Remember – if you want to build strength then your ultimate aim should be strict slow muscle ups (i.e. no kipping, straight legs, regular grip).


An In-depth ‘How to Muscle Up’ from ‘George Workout’

Although the rest of the videos are great as well, I decided to put this one up the top because George Workout has really broken down the basic physics of the muscle up. In his tutorial you will get a real understanding behind the technique. So before you watch the others, watch this one for a good understanding of what your body will be doing throughout the stages of a beginner muscle up.


Frank Medrano Methods

Here Frank Medrano gives some good intermediate level tips on how to do a muscle up including:

  • Starting with a kipping motion to get up past the transition point into the muscle up.
  • Do a pull over and performing the muscle up in reverse (otherwise known as a negative or eccentric training).
  • Practicing high pull ups (clean form, straight legs) to tidy up your muscle up.

Also props to Eddie, the owner of Metroflex (Long Beach California), for trying his best not to injure himself. Favourite quote from him when doing a pull over – “Wow I almost squashed my dick” – haha…


California Calisthenics Methods

California Calisthenics has some great pointers to working out the kinks in your muscle up technique. If you’ve been struggling at a few points in the exercise then you should definitely watch this video.

Corey Hall (Bar Brothers Florida) Methods

Corey Hall from Bar Brothers Florida lays down some good tips in reaching your goal of achieving a muscle up. Explosive pull ups, arm/grip rotation (no-false grip), low-bar training using jumping etc. Check it out below.


Bar Brother DK Methods

From the Bar Brother DK, this tutorial is a good intro into the muscle up including using resistance bands as a great tool to build the technique if you’re struggling a bit with strength. Check it out below.


No False Grip Muscle Up Tutorial (BarStarzz Methods)

Finally, no ‘How To Calisthenics’ would be complete without a video from the peeps at BarStarzz. Check out their video on how to do a slow muscle up without false grip. Plus heaps of great exercises to get yourself up to scratch.

If you’ve liked our article or if you’ve found some glaring errors then please leave a comment below.

Intermediate Calisthenics
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