There are certain strength training exercises that are impressive. There is one more than any other that leaves no one indifferent: it's muscle-up. Strength training exercise but very comprehensive, it requires strength, speed and coordination. It is a full body workout: back, shoulders, pecs, arms (biceps and triceps), forearms and even abs. Follow our tips and technical advice for doing muscle-up training.
This month's challenge: successfully perform muscle-up, a strength training exercise that requires strength, concentration and especially... a few training sessions.
What is muscle-up?
It's a combination of pull ups and dips: Instead of stopping at the top of the movement, follow up straight away with a dip. The exercise breaks down into 3 movements:
- pull-up: pull your body upwards behind the bar (and not under the bar like a standard pull-up)
- transition: raise body over the fixed bar
- dips: push on arms to reach the top
Who can measure up to muscle-up?
Before trying muscle-up, certain pre-requisites are essential. To have the required strength to perform the movement, you must be capable of doing fifteen pull-ups as well as a twenty bodyweight dips. Use this as a point of reference, but it does not mean that you'll necessarily be able to perform muscle-up at this stage. Even if your level of strength is sufficient, mastering the technique of movement and speed of execution will be decisive in successfully performing muscle-up.
Before you start
All strength training exercise requires a prior warm-up … and especially for muscle-because it's a full body workout. The risk of getting an injury from doing this movement is quite high, especially during the transition phase (shoulders and Supraspinatus muscle) as well as when lowering yourself (elbow and shoulder joints).
- Targeted muscles: lats, Teres major, Teres minor and secondarily arm muscles (biceps, brachialis, long supinator), trapezius, rhomboid and posterior deltoids. Pecs, anterior deltoids, triceps, back (lats), trapezius, abs.
- Performing exercise: position arms out stretched, suspended to fixed bar, hands placed slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Arms are nearly fully extended (avoid fully extending arms to protect joints), legs parallel. Raise and pull up your body: place your hips at bar level then push on arms to fully extend body (dips). Return back to start position with extended arms.
- Breathing: breathe in when rising and breathe out as you come down.
- Safety instructions: keep straight throughout exercise, and don't arch your back. Perform controlled movement especially when lowering yourself. Do not perform any unnecessary movement with body, maintain core stability and push on arms on lift.
How to successfully perform muscle-up?
Before starting, step back 30 to 50 cm away from the bar. This will allow you to benefit from backward pendulum motion, when taking hold, making it easier to lift body. Bar hold is different compared to standard pull ups: here the palm of your hands must be facing downwards (pronation) with thumbs over the bar to make transition between pull-ups and dips easier.
What you must remember
The muscle up should be performed fast, with explosive strength, so that you can change grip during the transition.
During the movement, use your chest, abs and shoulders as much as possible to keep your position behind the bar (and not underneath).
To help pull up, you can raise your knees.
If you perform several movements in a row, push your legs forward when coming down for more momentum and to keep the swinging motion.
To perform a successful muscle-up, stay patient for a few sessions… There really is no secret: to get there, you’ll have to practice. Work slowly and stay motivated... keep going!