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The muscle-up — a combination of an explosive pull-up into a dip — is one of my favorite upper-body calisthenic exercises. Muscle-ups are great for building powerful lats, but because of the speed required to complete the movement, I have seen even super strong "weight room warriors" fail at getting over the bar.
The reason? This movement hinges on two things: speed and technique. If you don't pull fast you're gonna have a tough time.
Technique-wise here are three simple tips to help you master the muscle-up:
Tip 1: False Grip
The way you grip the bar will make or break you right out of the gate. See the video for the proper false grip technique. If you have trouble holding in this position, start with 3 sets of False Grip Hangs for max time with 1 minute of rest between.
Tip 2: Pulling Angle
The pulling angle of a muscle-up is different than a pull-up. You are going to lean back and pull towards your hips. Fast. Practice pulling with the false grip at the proper angle. Work up to sets of 5 explosive pulls, or do sets of single reps to concentrate on the concentric pull only. If you lose your false grip at any time during the set, re-adjust or rest briefly before completing the set.
Tip 3: Transition
The transition is the trickiest part. You have to time it properly so that once your ribs or hips approach the bar, you "push down" with your feet to tip your chest over the bar to dip up. If you lose your false grip at any time during the movement you will get stuck on the transition.
Work on these three things and you will be hitting smooth muscle-ups in no time — perfect for building a powerful upper body and for showing off on your IG story. Get after it!
Coach Myers is the strength coach for the Ohio Regional Training Center at The Ohio State University. With the Ohio RTC since 2012, he served as Ohio State Wrestling’s primary strength coach from 2014-18, helping the Buckeyes win three Big Ten titles, their first-ever team NCAA championship, and two runner-up finishes.
A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), Coach Myers owns the Old School Gym in Pataskala, OH, and is a founding partner of top supplement company Max Effort Muscle. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook, and learn more about his strength and conditioning programs for wrestlers of all ages here.