So you’re looking to finally get that muscle-up, eh? Been working at it for a long time, but still can’t seem to get yourself up there? Maybe it’s your technique or a strength issue, either way, we’re here to guide you in the right direction. Keep reading for tips on finally attaining your goal of getting on top of that bar.
1. Prerequisite Strength
Make sure you’ve built up strength in the proper muscle groups to perform a muscle-up. Let’s break the muscle-up down to a couple of different important movements—the pull-up and the dip. These are both challenging movements on their own, but perfecting these can help you perfect the muscle-up. Before attempting a muscle-up, work up to 8-10 STRICT pull-ups and 12-15 STRICT dips. If you aren’t quite there, spend some time building up your strength. Safety is the biggest reason. If you don’t have the strict strength to perform these movements, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk of injury.
2. Breaking It Down
Now that you’ve established a solid base, let’s talk about the muscle-up itself. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as just pulling yourself up there. There is a bit of technique behind it, and you don’t want to run before you can walk. Start with actually being able to pull yourself into the proper position to get yourself up over the bar. Carl’s useful drill below can help you start practicing getting your body into the proper position. Notice how he focuses on getting his hips up to the bar, and his eyes and chest over the bar before attempting to get himself over it.
3. Learning To Properly Kip
The kip (or the swing) is a very important part of the bar muscle- up. This is where the momentum is created to help get you up over the bar, and this needs to be done in a safe and effective manner. It comes from tension throughout your lats – those muscles that run from the bottom of your armpit to just below your rib cage. Think about pulling down on the bar using these muscles while keeping your arms straight. Your shoulders and lats are going to be doing a good chunk of the work in the kip. Squeeze your feet together and pull your ribs down toward your belly button to keep your core tight. Your body should look like a banana on the backswing, and in an arched position as you come through. Watch Pamela’s drill below to work on your kip. Notice how she keeps her arms straight and focuses on using her shoulders and lats to initiate her swing. She is essentially in those two positions we talked about earlier—the banana shape on her backswing and an arched position when her head comes through.
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4. Putting The Pieces Together
After you’ve spent some time building up the proper strength and mastering the banana and arched body positions, it’s time to put the pieces together. You now know how to kip and understand you want to have your hips up by the bar, with your chest and eyes just slightly over the bar. Once you’re confident you can get yourself to that spot, now it’s about doing the fastest sit up you’ve ever done in your life. Then get your arms locked out and bam—you’ve finally hit that goal of doing a bar muscle-up! After you knock out your first one, keep working at making them better.
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If you’re looking for more tips on training, check out How To Walk On Your Hands – A Beginner’s Guide.