Muscle-Ups!!

Muscle-ups are one of the most intense body-weight exercises ever. They work so many different muscles and will get your heart and lungs pumping as well.

What is a muscle-up, you may ask? It’s almost like a combination of two of my favorite exercises: the pull-up and the dip, but way more intense than either of those on their own!

Muscle-ups are a pretty advanced exercise so I recommend that before you even try to work up to one, you get to the point where you can do 15 consecutive pull-ups and 20 consecutive parallel bar dips.

Close up of the false grip.

Close up of the false grip.

When doing a muscle-up it is important to note that the most effective grip is different than a traditional pull-up grip. Muscle-ups are typically done using what’s called a “false grip” which involves putting your hand farther over the bar, so that your palms are facing the ground and your wrist is cocked when you are hanging. This allows you a smooth transition from the pull-up phase of the movement into the dip phase.

If you want to work towards doing muscle-ups, it’s helpful to practice trying to get as high up over the bar as you can when doing pull-ups. Explosive pull-ups where you let go at the top can also be used as a precursor to doing muscle-ups.

When you perform a muscle-up, think about moving your upper body away from the bar on the way up rather than pulling straight towards it. Once you clear the bar, move your chest over it as you press yourself to the top of the movement. The arc of the body will create an S-shape pattern.

See my other muscle-up tutorial and check out the video clip below for more!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9w-xS2AudA

And if you’ve already got the hang of muscle-ups, check out my article on advanced muscle-ups.

32 thoughts on “Muscle-Ups!!

  • By Erica -

    Dang, diesel.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Haha thanks :)

  • By Marc -

    I showed this to a buddy at work, and he is intrigued by the guys in the background. Is there a TS Park playground gang?

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Tompkins is one of my favorite places to work out, not only because of the setup, but also because of the characters. I have met a lot of interesting people there over the years and picked up some good pointers along the way. I'm not sure if you're using the word “gang” in a violent sense or not, but I think the neighborhood is a lot safer than it used to be.

    • By Anonymous -

      I used to live in the Jacob Reece Projects up the block. The neighborhood has become much friendlier. I do miss living there, and I used to do calisthenics right where you do your instructional videos. I may visit just to get in a (wuss-type) workout during this spring. Maybe I’ll finally do a kipping pullup into a muscleup,…who knows!!! 😉

      • By Al Kavadlo -

        Right on!  And yes, TSP is a definitely friendlier than it used to be!

  • By Marc -

    I showed this to a buddy at work, and he is intrigued by the guys in the background. Is there a TS Park playground gang?

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Tompkins is one of my favorite places to work out, not only because of the setup, but also because of the characters. I have met a lot of interesting people there over the years and picked up some good pointers along the way. I'm not sure if you're using the word “gang” in a violent sense or not, but I think the neighborhood is a lot safer than it used to be.

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  • By Erica Cooksey -

    “I recommend that before you even try to work up to one, you get to the point where you can do 15 consecutive pull-ups and 20 consecutive parallel bar dips.”

    Is that 15 consecutive dead-hang pull-ups, or 15 consecutive pull ups with partial ROM/momentum?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Try not to over-analyze that part of the article, it’s just a guideline. If you can do 15 pull-ups of any variety, feel free to start training for muscle-ups. I’ve known a few guys who could do 20 dead-hang pull-ups but couldn’t get the timing right to get a muscle-up. I’ve also known guys who could manage a muscle-up but could barely do 10 kipping pull-ups.

  • By Bill Pairaktaridis -

    I love your videos and your smile always at the end! Keep up the awesome work, Al!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Bill!

  • By Fatih -

    How about horizontal muscle-ups for beginners?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Hey Faith – Look for a new muscle-up tutorial coming soon in which I will further break down the learning process.

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  • By Anonymous -

    The one mistake I’m making,…not doing a false grip. Now I know better,…thanks!!! Your #1 bro!!!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      There’s more to doing a muscle-up than just using a false grip.  Give it a shot though!

  • By John Dorry -

    Great stuff as always Al !

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, John!

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