How To Muscle-Up

How To Muscle-Up

The muscle-up is like a pull-up but instead of stopping with your chin above the bar, you pull up until your hips are at the bar.

The muscle-up involves an explosive pulling phase, a transition phase where the body shifts from hanging beneath the bar to supporting its weight on the hands above the bar, and a pushing phase which involves the positive portion of a dip at the top of the movement.


1. Proficient pull-up!

Although many recommend being able to perform 10-20 pull-ups before attempting the muscle-up, there is no golden number of repetitions you must be able to complete. What you need is at least one very explosive pull-up. It is not adequate to just get your chin above the bar; you should at least be able to get your chest to the bar and aim to pull up to your pelvis. Performing the positive phase of a pull-up as fast and high as possible is an effective way to develop this power.

For the muscle-up, as with all pull-ups, remember to pull your shoulder blades down during the pulling portion to increase the height potential you can achieve.

2. Straight bar dip.

You must be able to complete a dip at the top of the movement. Usually, if you can clear the bar to reach a bent-arm support position, the dip is relatively easy and rarely the limiting factor. Being unable to complete the transition due to lack of technique or pulling power is what usually limits people from achieving their muscle-up.


A muscle-up does not travel in a pure vertical plane. If it did, you would hit your head on the bar. Rather, the body travels in an arc around the bar, with the chest passing behind the bar during the pulling phase, and moving forward slightly during the transition and the pushing phase.

Grip the bar roughly shoulder width apart. Whether to grip with your thumbs around the bar or not is personal preference and will be explained in more detail in the transition section.


To allow the body to clear the bar; start a little behind the bar, jump to grip the bar and let the body swing forward slightly at the start of the movement. As the body begins to swing back, initiate the pulling phase of the muscle-up as explosively as possible. This will allow your body to move back and over the bar.


During this phase, the chest and shoulders move from hanging under the bar, to being above the bar. You can perform a larger swing at the start of the movement and lift your knees to assist you to complete this phase. As you become more competent with the movement, minimize any knee lifting and swing.

When you hang from a bar, your fingers support your weight, but when you are in a support position above the bar, the weight is supported by your palms, closer to your wrist. To account for this, your grip must be adjusted and the hand needs to rotate slightly around the bar. The placement of your thumbs is a matter of preference. However, gripping with your thumbs around the bar will usually require greater adjustment of hand position during the transition phase and is better suited for thinner bars.

To avoid the need to adjust your grip, you can start the muscle-up in a “false grip”. This means hanging with your wrists over the bar in the same position they would be if you were in a support position above the bar. You will be supporting the weight with your palms rather than your fingers. As a result, there is no need to adjust your grip during the transition phase.


Once you are above the bar, straighten your arms to complete the muscle-up. If you find this phase difficult you can practice straight bar dips as an exercise to build strength.


To assist your progress, perform the negative phase of the movement by climbing or jumping to a support position and performing the negative phase of the movement. Try to control the movement on the way down; this will help train the path of movement the body will travel through.


If you are close but still unable to perform the muscle-up, you can practice the technique with the assistance of a resistance band. To perform, start standing on a box or object positioned on the floor slightly behind the bar. Attach the band around the bar and grip the bar so the band is hanging between your hands, then secure one foot in the band. From here, step off the box and propel yourself forward slightly as you lower. The feet will drift in front of the bar at the bottom of the motion. Commence the pulling phase as soon as your body starts to swing back. As you begin the pulling action, the band will assist to pull you back and over the bar.


Once you can complete the muscle-up, train for repetitions, with varying hand placements and even weighted muscle-ups.

To view a video tutorial click here

Good luck!

  • David Chea
    Posted at 18:27h, 18 November


  • Casper Friis
    Posted at 09:20h, 02 December

    Very good tutorial!

    Posted at 00:37h, 07 February

    Simonster, this tutorial 👌