About this Progression
In its most simply described form, a muscle-up is a pull up followed by a dip. That means that while hanging from a bar, your pull yourself up and then slightly adjust your and position to extend your arms above the bar pushing your whole body up.
The initial exercise is not for beginners and you may want to work yourself up to it by progressing through some other exercises. See our Pull Ups Progression and dips progression. Once you’ve achieved the strength component, you have to work on the transition between the pull and dip. It is the skill aspect which is also required and difficult to get down when starting.
The muscle-ups progression are a great bodyweight exercise for building strength and bodily control one of the key philosophies about the spirit of calisthenics.
Muscle up Progression Exercises List
Step 1: False Grip Pull Ups
In order to correctly perform a muscle-up, you must be able to adopt a hand position on the bar that allows you to push up from the bar once you have pulled yourself up. To do this you must practice pull ups with what is known as a “false grip”. Here, you grip the bar with your fingers over the top of the bar and your palms facing away from your body, but instead of putting your thumb around the bar, simply rest in to the side of your hand. Practice hanging like this before attempting to perform a pull up in this position. It may be slightly more difficult than a normal pull up, but it is the necessary hand position to be adopted to be able to work through the rest of the progression.
Step 2: Muscle-ups Eccentrics
The eccentrics of any exercise are known as the movements which are unique to that exercise to be practiced before the full exercise is put together. For the purpose of this progression the eccentrics are the second part of the muscle-up which involved pushing up from the bar. Balance on top of the bar with your hands and let your body drop until your elbows are near a 90 degree angle. Push up so that your arms are fully extended on the top of the bar before controlling on the way back down.
Step 3: Kipping Muscle ups
This is a gravity-assisted form of the final exercise in this progression. The kipping part gives you momentum to pull yourself up into the muscle-up position. This involves holding the bar and letting your body move forward under and in front of the bar before swinging back and using this momentum to perform the muscle-up. Keep in mind that we’re only keeping to get the feeling of the transition to the other half of the movement.
Step 4: Muscle-ups
Without the help of the swinging kipping motion, perform the muscle-up as described starting from static position below the bar. This is an impressive display of strength if you can complete this progression and will stand you in good stead to attempt some of our other upper body progressions available.
Here is a helpful video for the steps of this progression: