The Best Muscle up Progression Exercises

So you went to the park, and you started doing pull ups and dips, and you saw some kid doing something like a combination of pull up and dip, this exercise is called Muscle up, and you thought to yourself, that this move looks cool and easy and you try it, but you can not bring yourself above the bar.

And you try again few times probably(that is what I did), and you failed. And let me tell you something, it took me quite some time to do it, with both arms above the bar(because it is easier to do it with one hand above the bar and the other one after that). And here is how I did it.

Those are the exercises you need to master to achieve the muscle up:

  • Muscle up negatives.
  • False grip explosive pull ups(I will explain later what is false grip)
  • Very low straight bar dips
  • One arm first muscle up
  • Clean muscle up.

Your focus here is to gain strength, so focus on 1-8 reps on every exercise. Add this exercise to your workout or you can make a single workout with these exercises.

Muscle up negatives

negative muscle up progression exercise gif

A negative Muscle up is the lowering part. The pull up and the dip of the muscle up, that is the positive part, the negative part is you lowering yourself to passive hang.

Slow controlled negatives only. Perform the reps slowly. Don’t rush it.

At first you can perform this exercise on a lower bar, because it is easier to get above it.

Grab the bar with a shoulder width apart grip, and start lowering your body, with a slow and controlled movement. Hold your legs in a L sit, so you don’t hit the ground at the pull up negative.

False grip explosive pull up

So this grip is mostly used on rings, because the transition from pull up to dip exercise on rings is easier to perform with this type of grip and it is not just for the rings, the same goes for the bar too.

false grip muscle up

As you can see on the picture the grip is simply putting your wrist on top of the bar. You have to flex your wrist a little bit and point the fingers inwards.

Now we get to the pulling part. Perform this type of pull up with your hands shoulder width apart. Pull up as high as you can and as fast as you can.

Don’t swing yourself just pull, because the point of this exercise is to gain the explosive strength needed for the muscle up.

Straight bar dips

Straight bar dips

The purpose of this exercise is to teach you to dip as low as possible, because at some point you will have the explosive strength to get above the bar, and you have to be ready for this low dip.

Find a low bar(the parallel bars) and if you don’t have any you can use the pull up bar, by getting yourself above the bar with a pull over.

Every time you perform it, try to touch your lower pecs. Also bring your legs forward so you can balance yourself above the bar.

One arm first muscle up

So this is not a muscle up, but it will help you a lot for building the explosive strength needed for the clean muscle up.

You can do this exercise instead of the explosive pull up(I don’t like that option because later you can work on the explosive pull up to touch the bar with your upper pecs, lower pecs and eventually abs).

Before trying it, work on your swing/kip, by swinging your legs back and forth. It may take couple of trial and errors to find the right time to pull up while you are kipping.

one arm first muscle up progression exercise

Simply said, from passive hang, pull as high as you can, and put one of your arms above the bar.

In the picture I did it on the low bar, with my feet on the ground, but on the bar you have to balance yourself by bringing your legs in front of you.

And after that bring the other arm above the bar(you may not do it on the first try, do it again) and push off the bar(the low straight bar dip will come in handy).

Clean muscle up

Muscle up progression exercises

I am still learning this part of the workout, currently I am capable of doing it with two hands with a kip/swing. But every time I am at the pull up bar I am working on it. I added the swing muscle up and the negative muscle up to my workout.

I added both of these exercises at the beginning of my workout, because I tend to put the exercises I like the most(and in most cases the hardest for me) at the beginning of the workout, when I am full with energy.

Later during my workout, my muscles get tired and my strength decreases.

If you have a fitness band you can put it on your foot, which will take some weight off of you and will help you to learn the transition from pull up to dip faster(you can order fitness bands here).

If you don’t have a pull bar near you I’ve found some of the best home pull up bars, some of them you can mount on your doorway. Best Doorway pull up bars.

Always warm up before workout!

What exercises are you doing to help you with the muscle up?

By | 2016-02-13T17:33:57+00:00 June 1st, 2015|Blog, Exercises, Explosive, Pulling, Workout|2 Comments

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  1. Johan Myers June 3, 2015 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    I love the step by step technique that you are suggesting, that you should master each basic exercise one by one before trying out the muscle up! If one practices an activity enough, one will eventually master it. That’s important to remember! Great quality content!

    • Lyubomir June 3, 2015 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      Yes, I tried to put exercises for people who are patient and for people who are not. Because for those who are patient they will follow these exercises and for those who are not, they will probably perform only the one arm muscle up. Either way the success is guaranteed.

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