How To Do A Muscle Up

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If you are looking for new upper extremity, bodyweight movements to incorporate into your training then consider none other than the muscle up. The muscle up is a relatively basic bodyweight movement that incorporates both a pushing and a pulling action of the upper extremity all into one movement. Also, the muscle up is a good option for someone looking to become all-around more explosive. The following video, and the remainder of the article, takes us through the steps of how to do a muscle up.

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Mastering the Pulling Action

If you are unable to do a pull-up, the muscle up will be virtually impossible. It is therefore essential for us to start out by building up enough strength to complete a pull-up, and hopefully be able to do them in a continuous fashion one after another.

Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t be discouraged if you are unable to do a simple pull-up. There used to be a time in my life where I couldn’t do them either. I viewed a pull-up as something that had no purpose and wouldn’t help me reach my goals as a power athlete. Of course, there are some who say that if you cannot lift and control your own bodyweight then you are in no place to be lifting external resistance. I have come to agree with this logic.

Explosive Component

The second step once we are able to do the pull-ups repetitively is to then make those pull-ups explosive. Only through explosive action will we be able to get on top of the bar and move onto the next component of the muscle up—the pushing phase.

The Pushing Phase

The next recommendation would then be to try and push ourselves up with just one side of the body. In the video, they describe it as simulating the action of jumping over a fence. Get the one side up, and then allow the other side to follow. The same concept applies to the muscle up.

If you are unable to do that, then there are two areas that we need to work on: either the pull-up portion is not explosive enough or there is not enough strength to finish the pushing phase.

In the case of needing to be more explosive in the pulling phase, we need to go back to square one and work on repetitively doing more explosive pull-ups.

On the other hand, if the pushing phase is where the weakness lies, there are a few options we can use to strengthen this phase—all of them involving a pushing action. The best and most efficient way of learning how to do something is by actually doing it. Hopefully that’s not too much of a news flash for anybody…

The following pushing movements will help in strengthening the musculature needed to power us through the pushing phase of the muscle up:


Hopefully, after following these steps on how to do a muscle up and putting them into practice, you will be able to actually perform the movement after a period of hard work and determination. Again, the muscle up is a great bodyweight movement for building explosive strength in the upper extremity.

Greg Pearson is an exercise science major at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania with minors in biology and coaching. He is also a lifelong athlete – involved in the sports of basketball, baseball, football, track & field and volleyball growing up. Competed at Shippensburg University in the shot put, discus, and hammer events as a Division II Track & Field athlete. You can contact Greg via e-mail: [email protected] or his  linkedin profile.

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