Part 1: Muscle-ups
Muscle-ups require both pulling and pressing strength. Our fail-safe progressions will prepare your body for each element, so you’ll be ready to conquer the rig with a gymnast’s grace and power.
Chest-to-bar Pull-up: 4 sets of 6 reps
Your first step is to develop the strength to perform a muscle-up. This can be done with controlled pull-ups. Hang below a bar with an overhand grip, just wider than shoulder width, and your arms fully extended.
Keep your legs tight together and bent at 90 degrees as you pull your chest up to touch the bar. Hold for a second at the top, before lowering back down under control.
Straight Arm Pull-down: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Take tension away from your biceps and isolate your larger back muscles. Loop a resistance band around the bar and adopt an overhand grip on the band at hip width. Step away from the bar, so your arms are straight and your lats stretched. Pull the band down without bending your arms to bring your hands to your hips. Hold for a second, then reverse the move.
Hip-to-bar Pull-up: 3 sets of 3 reps
Generating enough power to bring your hips to the bar is hard to master. Start in the pull-up’s hanging position, then squeeze your shoulders back and down. Swing your legs to create a “kipping” motion.
As your legs move forward, raise yourself using the same movement as a straight arm pull-down, driving your hips to the bar. Push away and swing your legs back for rep two.
Straight Bar Dip: 4 sets of 6 reps
Not only will this dip upgrade develop your shoulder, triceps and chest strength; it will also teach you to keep your core tight.
Set a barbell in a rack at the height of your upper abs. Extend your arms and bring your shoulders over the bar. Dip your shoulders, then bend your elbows to touch your chest to the bar. Push back up to lock out.
Part 2: The Bar Muscle-up
The bar muscle-up is an advanced move, but follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll learn to execute it with tight technique. Soon, you’ll be able to string together multiple reps to accomplish this toughest of workouts.
Phase 1: First, create an “active” hang under the bar by squeezing down your lats and shoulders. From here, generate the kip swing by tensing your glutes and abs, while thinking about opening and closing your shoulders. Your legs should move in front (the hollow position) and behind you (the arched position), but your torso should stay centred. Now, it’s time to pull hard.
Phase 2: From the hollow body position, pull down on the bar using your back and shoulders, your arms straight. Lift your hips to reach your hands, then drive your head forward over the bar. Whipping your head is crucial if you want to generate enough momentum to carry you over the bar. Get in the swing of it.
Phase 3: With the trickiest part of the move completed, your muscle-up is only a press away. From the bottom of a dip position, call on the strength you built in the final progression move to press your body upward. Keep your core tensed and your legs in front. Take some time at the top to revel in how far you’ve come.