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Tips to perfect your Muscle Up

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Yerai Alonso

In this article we are going to see a number of tips that will help you in the process of perfecting your muscle up, assuming that you have already managed to do it but it still turns out very ugly. For example when you raise one arm before the other, what we usually call "elbow destruction" or "chicken wing muscle up". Or when you need to use a lot of momentum with your legs, bending your knees and so on.

Some of these tips will require work and effort, and others you can apply instantly to see improvements.

To begin, let's make it clear what is considered a perfected muscle up:


What is a strict muscle up like?



1. The range of motion should be complete, starting hanging completely with the elbows fully extended and ending up with the elbows completely locked in the bar dip position.

2. During the pull up part there should be no legs movement, the knees should not be bent nor the hip excessively flexed.


3. The arms must make the transition at the same time, without one getting ahead of the other.

4. The pause at the top before doing the bar dip should be as short as possible, avoiding spending a long time with the abdomen resting on the bar.


Step 1 to perfecting your Muscle Up: Strengthen your pull ups

Obviously the easiest way to clean up the muscle up is to strengthen your pulling capacity so that you can do a more powerful explosive pull-up that allows you to go up more easily, preventing you from having to resort to moving your legs or raising one arm before the other.


To carry out this strengthening, simply train explosive pull-ups a lot, trying to gradually increase the number of repetitions and their explosiveness. For the rest of the pulling exercises, such as other variants of pull-ups, Australian or rowing, seek to promote that power and speed of movement (while maintaining control), instead of making slow and controlled reps.


Step 2 to perfecting your Muscle Up: High Grip

One way to increase your muscle up ability instantly is to get a high grip. This consists of slightly raising your wrists compared to what would be a position in which you are completely hanging.

With this you achieve two things: first, to reduce range of movement by a few centimeters, and second, to facilitate the transition since you have your wrists closer to what would be their final position.


Be careful, do not confuse it with a false grip, which would be placing your wrists completely above the bar, since that would practically be another variant of muscle up and not a strict muscle up.

Step 3 to perfecting your Muscle Up: Look up


When we make the transition from a pull-up to a bar dip during a muscle up, our torso must pass the height of the bar, and depending on how close or far it passes, we will have to make more or less effort to achieve it.

Imagine an extreme case in which you pass your torso very far from the bar and how difficult that would be for you to stay on top, and then imagine a case in which you pass very close, millimeters, and how easy it would be to stay on top compared to the previous case.

By keeping our gaze up (looking at the bar) you facilitate this process of passing as close to the bar as possible, since we have the visual reference that allows us to adjust better than when we are looking straight ahead.

Step 4 to perfecting your Muscle Up: Master the Swing

There are different types of swing that can be applied in the strict muscle up, there is a more circular type of swing, in which the body swings forward and then when returning we describe a semicircle path to the rise. And there is a type of "arrow" swing in which when you lower yourself, your body goes straight in a diagonal forward and then you rise very vertically. And also there are many intermediate variants of these two extremes.

The key is that you try the different variants, record yourself, and analyze which one works best for you, since this information will be very valuable for you to progress quickly.


What I do recommend avoiding is the Crossfit "kipping" type swing or what in Calisthenics we call the Olympic muscle up (reserved only for freestyle combos). Since this type of swing is not considered strict and then you will have difficulty learning the correct version.

Remember that if you need help learning the muscle up, in Calisteniapp we have training programs, routines and all kinds of progressions so that you can perform and perfect it. Download it and check it out if you haven't.

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I hope it helps you a lot and that you share your progress with this movement on Instagram.

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