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7 Best Transition Drills to Finally Nail your Muscle Up

Learning a skill in calisthenics is all about progression.

Just because you can do pullups and bar dips doesn’t mean you can already do muscle ups. While they do prepare your muscles for the strength requirement, they do not teach you the proper technique to connect the 2 exercises. 

Muscle up is quite a complex movement; a combination of a pullup and a dip. You don’t normally combine both of the exercises that is why it’s going to be awkward and difficult at first. You need to fill in the gap where you are lacking.

Lacking  transition from the top to the bottom and vice-versa of the movement. Fill in those gaps with progressions. How can we fix that?

Here are the step by step transition drills you need for your muscle up journey.

Ring muscle ups are more difficult than bar ones, but you’ll get more out of it! You train your core because of the stability needed for the requirements at the same time.

Here are the step by step transition drills you need for your muscle up journey:

Feet Elevated to Low Dip - Transition Drill

WHAT IS IT

Feet elevated to low dip is a lateral exercise that is a transition drill. This exercise strengthens the latissimus dorsi, teres major, biceps, and abdominals. This is the most basic step for the transition.

The move might be awkward for you at the beginning. Repeat until you get comfortable. Just focus on quality reps and you will be doing muscle ups for breakfast!

HOW TO PERFORM

  1. Grab rings while sitting under them, with feet elevated on box.
  2. Pull up on rings, rotating wrists around for shoulder extension halfway pushing up.
  3. Rotate wrists back down, extend elbows, and return hips to the ground.
  4. Repeat for specified repetitions.

COACHING POINTERS

Be aware of your form in each position of the movement. Maintain tension and think actively what you are doing. Don’t count your repetition if your quality is lousy and lazy as a sloth who just ate his dinner.

Starting Position

  • Grasp rings
  • Hips on floor
  • Knees bent
  • Feet on box

Movement Position

  • Elbow flexion
  • Wrist rotation
  • Chest up
  • Back straight

Finish Position

  • Elbow extension
  • Hips on floor
  • Hip flexion

Feet Elevated To Full Extension - Transition Drill

WHAT IS IT

Feet elevated to full extension is a lateral exercise that is a transition drill. This exercise strengthens the latissimus dorsi, teres major,biceps, triceps, and abdominals.

This exercise simulates a spotted half upper portion of the muscle up. The motion from the previous exercise should have prepared you for the technique required. It’s basically a heavier version of the first step.

HOW TO PERFORM

  1.  Grab rings while sitting under them, with feet elevated on box.
  2.  Pull up on rings, rotating wrists around and press up fully.
  3.  Bend elbows and return to hanging position below rings.
  4. Repeat for specified repetitions.

COACHING POINTERS

Similar as before but now with the added elbow extension at the top. Don’t forget to breath!

Starting Position

  • Grasp rings
  • Hips on floor
  • Knees bent
  • Feet on box

Movement Position

  • Elbow extension
  • Chest up
  • Back straight

Finish Position

  • Elbow extension
  • Shoulder flexion
  • Hip flexion

Muscle Up Linking Drill

WHAT IS IT

Muscle up linking drill is a lateral. This exercise strengthens the latissimus dorsi, teres major, triceps, and abdominals. 

This is almost the negative portion of a dip. The other half of a muscle up starts here.

HOW TO PERFORM

  1. Standing with rings at hip height, grab onto rings and push up tall with arms straight.
  2. With legs straight and together, bend knees while you bend elbows lowering chest toward rings.
  3. Swing down to a straight body position, on the mat, while still hanging onto rings.
  4. Repeat for specified repetitions.

COACHING POINTERS

Basically a negative move so maintain body tension through the movement.

Starting Position

  • Grasp rings
  • Chest up
  • Back straight
  • Elbows extended
  • Legs together, straight

Movement Position

  • Elbow bent
  • Knees bent
  • Chest to rings

Finish Position

  • Supine on mat
  • Legs together, straight
  • Hip extended
  • Grasp rings
  • Arms straight

L-sit Lift Off

WHAT IS IT

L-Sit lift off is a lateral transition drill. This exercise strengthens the latissimus dorsi, teres major, and biceps.

Let’s step up the movement and make it heavier for you. This drill will strengthen you even further. Excited for the muscle up? You better be because you’re halfway there.

HOW TO PERFORM

  1.  Start from a seated position on the mat, arms grasping rings and legs out straight and together.
  2.  Lean back slightly opening hips up, and pull up chest toward rings, keeping a straight, tight body.
  3.  Rotate wrists and press up extending elbows on the rings, standing up on your feet.
  4. Bend elbows, and lower back down to the seated position below the rings.
  5. Repeat for specified repetitions.

COACHING POINTERS

Focus! Focus! Focus! More pointers; hence, more room for error. Focus on every detail.

Starting Position

  • Grasp rings
  • Seated
  • Legs together, straight

Movement Position

  • Chest toward rings
  • Elbow bent
  • Legs straight
  • Hips flexed

Finish Position

  • Hips extended
  • Elbows extended
  • Feet on mat
  • Legs straight

Lower Body Kipping

WHAT IS IT

Lower body kipping is a lateral transition drill. This exercise strengthens the abdominals, biceps, deltoids, and triceps.

This drill trains more on your technique. Intense coordination is mandatory. After some reps, think about your attempt and focus on room for improvement. If you got this down, focus on memorizing the feeling of the movement.

HOW TO PERFORM

  1.  Start in a seated position on the ground and grasp rings.
  2.  Lean onto your back, still holding the rings and tuck knees into your chest.
  3.  Shoot legs forward, onto your feet as you pull chest up toward rings.
  4.  End in a bent over position with elbows bent and holding rings.
  5. Repeat for specified repetitions.

COACHING POINTERS

You might be thrown of by the momentum you will generate. Good thing you’ve prepared your body with strengthening exercises beforehand.

Starting Position

  • Grasp rings
  • Back on floor
  • Arms straight
  • Knees tucked to chest

Movement Position

  • Legs extend
  • Elbows bent
  • Biceps tense

Finish Position

  • Elbows bent
  • Rings at sides
  • Knees bent

Negative Muscle Up Legs Assisted

WHAT IS IT

Negative muscle up legs assisted is a lateral exercise. This exercise strengthens the triceps, pectorals, and serratus.

Time to combine exercises from 1-5. You’re very near achieving your fantasy AKA muscle ups.  Don’t give up now or ever.

HOW TO PERFORM

  1.  Stand in front of rings that are hip height, grasp rings and press up holding yourself off the ground.
  2.  Bend elbows lowering chest toward the rings, and slowly rotate wrists and lower down to the ground using your feet to assist.
  3. Repeat for specified repetitions.

COACHING POINTERS

You’re combining the previous exercises together so don’t forget about the key points.

Starting Position

  • Grasp rings
  • Press up, elbows straight
  • Abdominals tight
  • Legs together, straight

Movement Position

  • Elbow bent
  • Knees bent
  • Feet on floor
  • Abdominals tight

Finish Position

  • Elbow extended
  • Hips on floor

The Baby Muscle Up

WHAT IS IT

The baby muscle up is a lateral exercise that prepares for a full muscle up. This exercise strengthens the latissimus dorsi, teres major, serratus, pectorals, and triceps.

This is your final step before attempting a muscle up. You should have your technique down. It’s a matter of gaining more strength to hoist your body up with proper form and so as lowering down.

HOW TO PERFORM

  1.  Begin in a kneeling position holding onto low rings.
  2.  Extend hips, sitting up taller and pull chest towards rings as you straighten your legs.
  3.  Rotate wrists around and press up straight with elbows extended, using feet to assist.
  4. Bend elbows and lower back down onto knees.
  5. Repeat for specified repetitions.

COACHING POINTERS

Your final step is before the real test of trying out muscle ups. Give your best. Body tension, control and technique; KEEP THAT IN MIND.

Starting Position

  • Grasp rings
  • Knees Flexed
  • Hips flexed

Movement Position

  • Elbows flexed
  • Hips extended
  • Knees bent, on mat

Finish Position

  • Elbows extended
  • Knees extended
  • Feet on mat

You are ready!

You’ve prepared your strength, mobility and technique. Took every step and progression to fully understand each position of the movement. Finally, it’s time to bust some muscle ups!

Enjoy every repetition and set, you deserve it. 

If you want to keep a comprehensive track of your progress, download Movement Athlete’s mobile application. Check it out so you can maintain motivated as you train for your goal.

 

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