How to do a Muscle Up


A “muscle-up” is a variation of the classic chin-up; whereas a chin-up stops once the arms are bent, during a muscle up, the movement continues into a dip. This makes it a very effective exercise for the upper body when done properly.

Deconstruction of the move

One can decompose the muscle-up into three parts:

  1. Complete a chin-up, pulling the body behind and not under the bar.
  2. Transition phase where the body passes over the bar
  3. Completion of a dip


Both a bar or rings can be used!

In order to complete a muscle-up, one needs strength and agility. The upper body is well solicited:

  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Shoulders
  • Forearms
  • …even abdominals!

A person usually needs to have some prior experience with strength training or a strength-related sport in order to complete a muscle-up. The move requires the capability of completing 20 or so pull-ups, a capability without which the movement will remain difficult to master.


To correctly execute a muscle up, one’s hands must be positioned slightly differently than for a classic pull-up:

  • The hands are pronated
  • The thumbs are above the bar (to facilitate the transition)

To successfully perform the move, one must explosively pull up, this is what will create the impulse and force that will allow the transition phase to be completed. To avoid going under the bar, use your chest and abs to help you.

If this does not create enough power, you can also used your knees and feet when you approach the transititon phase- this will facilitate the completion of the dips.


Check out this video for further help completing a muscle-up!


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