Guest Post: How To Do a Muscle Up

Guest Post from our friends over @ CRO Strength

The all elusive Muscle has easily become one of the most sought after exercises in the fitness world. It has undoubtedly become the one exercise that measures true functional strength. 

The reason this exercise is easily the most challenging body weight exercise is because it encompasses not only a regular pull up but incorporates the demand for pushing strength and tedious technique. 

I’m sure a lot of people have seen the “Crossfitters” on TV that are seemingly easily swinging themselves into flawless muscles ups one after another, then when you get your own pair of rings or the bar and find out far too quickly how difficult the movement is. 

You’re probably reading this because you’re trying to make the muscle up apart of your “I’m a badass Toolbox” ….To be that person that can show their friends how to do the Muscle Up….To most likely being the only person in the gym doing repeated muscles ups. 

Well you’re in luck. Today, I’m going to explain 3 things that are essential towards you becoming a muscle up pro. These three aspects of the muscle up will help you work towards becoming that pro and being able to teach your friends. 

If you put in the work…The results will show. 

First understand the 4 phases of the Muscle Up from beginning to end…





I will explain throughout the rest of the article what these phases are and how to use them. 

Let’s begin with the 3 things that will get you to “Muscle-up King” Status…

1. PULL UP EXPLOSIONS- Yes you will have to be able to perform dead hand pull ups fairly easily. If you can not do at least 5 pull ups easily you should first build a plan to get to that point. 

Now that you’re able to do 5 Pull ups lets take it a step further. Let’s start getting your full chest above the bar. You will need to be able to pull up far enough that the bottom of your chest clears above the bar. 

The only way to do this is by repeated strength building in your pull ups and practicing. 

Once you’re accomplished that with fair ease….lets go into the last part of the pulling progression…Pull up explosions. 

This is pulling yourself far enough above the bar that you’re able to release your hands, clap, then catch the bar again before your chin drops below the bar again. 

Working on this technique will build the power needed to pull yourself not only above the bar enough but the power you’ll need to work through the transitional phase of the muscle up. 

These pull up explosions are working the PULL phase of the muscle up, probably the most important. You need to have the strength and power to pull yourself up FIRST. 

So work on those three things first then we’ll move on…

2. JUMPING MUSCLE UPS- So now that you have the power to pull your body enough to clear the bar as needed to complete the movement we need to work on the transition phase. 

This is when you’re at the top of your pulling movement and you will rotate your wrists and elbows over to get your body forward of the bar into the final part of the muscle up which is the PUSH. 

So you will need to find an elevated stable surface that can support your weight and isn’t going to move if you jump off of it and land again. 

You will grip the bar with either your false grip or the progressive natural grip. 

You will squat down to generate enough power that you’re able to pull yourself into the transition phase of the muscle up after jumping. 

This is just practicing you developing the technique needing to get through that transition from pulling to pulling. 

This is the most common part of the movement that people get stuck at. This is where a lot of the technique is needed during this exercise. 

Practice, Practice, Practice…..Yes, I’m talking about practice. 

3. UNDERSTANDING THE MOMENTUM- Now we’re going to talk about the loading phase of the movement. This happens as you’re in the dead hang position with the pull up bar. 

Essentially we’re going to learn how to generate momentum with your body to make the muscle up easier. 

First I want you to practice swinging….learn how to just swing back and forth on the bar. 

**Start to think that as you swing back is when we will start our pull up. 

Once you’re good with swinging, let’s talk about the arch. 

You want to be able to arch your body in the forward swing. Meaning you will try to touch your heels to your head. 

More of an arch = more momentum

More momentum = MORE MUSCLE UPS

More muscle ups = Well I’m sure you understand the point. 

If you watch any of the Crossfit Games you saw all of these athletes with huge arches before they start there pull. 

That is part of the reason they are able to do so many in a row. 

So as we swing forward we make the arch with our body, then AS WE START SWINGING BACK we bring our legs forward quickly as we start to pull. 

This is the “KIPPING” Motion. 

This will generate HUGE amounts of momentum and more momentum = never mind I won’t start that again.

Commit the movements to memory then practice, practice, practice. 

That is the only way you’ll be able to do the muscle ups you want to do…Your body aches for experience, reading and watching isn’t enough. 

YOUR GOAL- Accomplish the muscle up using the kip, then move close and closer to not having to use the kip at all. 

I hope this was informational to you and hope you’ve learned enough to get out there and do the thing. 

In Strength and Health,

Keil Cronauer

CRO Strength, LLC


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