Muscle Ups & Crossfit

Muscle ups, whether done on rings or a bar, are a challenging body weight exercise that few people are able to do.  You may have seen Crossfit athletes or other members of your Box doing muscle ups and thought it would be a cool thing to try, only to find it impossible to haul your butt up over the bar!

Here’s our Top 5 Tips to get your first Muscle Up: 

Tip 1: First work up to doing 15 regular pull ups. 

Muscle ups require a good bit of upper body strength regardless of how efficient your technique is.  Save yourself some frustration and build up a solid base of pulling strength first.

Tip 2: Work the top half of your pull ups harder. 

Do some extra sets of pull ups where you only come half way down and then pull yourself back up, driving your chin over the bar.  This will strengthen your upper back muscles through the range of motion that is most crucial to doing a muscle up. 

Tip 3: Do chest to bar pull ups.  

Explosively pull yourself up until your lower chest or upper abs touch the bar.  Here we’re working on explosive power and strengthening the upper back muscles through their full range of motion.  Once you’re able to do 5-10 reps of these, achieving a muscle up is just a matter of working on transition strength and general technique.

Tip 4: Transition is everything!

Practice (on a set of rings or bar in the squat rack - depending on the type of Muscle Up you’re aiming for!) you're transitions. Practice getting your hips high (so that they’re almost touching the height of the bar/rings) then do the biggest, most explosive sit up you’ve ever done.

Tip 5: Technique! 

Be explosive, and have intent when you approach the bar. For newbies, you are going to have to pull harder than you’ve every pulled to get your hips high enough to turn over. This is not a glamorous movement - it requires intent and excellent timing.

Putting it all together… the Routine:

  • Explosive chest to bar pull ups – 3 sets of 3-5 reps

  • Muscle up attempts – give it a shot using technique tips

  • Regular pull ups – 3 sets of as many as possible.  On 1-2 of them, focus on the top half.

  • To finish off your upper back, do 3-5 sets of a rowing exercise (bar, cable, or machine)