Meet the experts – How to do the perfect muscle-up

Meet the experts – How to do the perfect muscle-up

Keith Hahn, VPT at Gymbox Bank, shows us how to the perfect muscle-up.


5 Key Movements and milestones

Mastering the basic body weight movements (press-ups, squats, pull-up, etc.) in calisthenics can be challenging enough when performed properly; however the pinnacle of these type of high-level exercises is the muscle-up. Quite simply put, the muscle-up is made up three exercises combined in a progressive sequence: pull-up, back-swing (transition) and dip. It's very important to remember to crawl before you walk, and one will need to consider some key individual movements and milestones before attempting this gravity-defying exercise. For the first time ever, I unveil the five key movements and milestones to achieve the muscle-up:

1. Bar work, bar work, bar work!

Even performing a basic pull-up (pulling your full body weight up- chin to the bar) requires a significant amount of muscle recruitment/engagement. As the first phase of the sequence, the pull-up must be mastered by training on the bar at least 3-4 times a week to build a solid base.

2. Hands, wrists, forearms, core, legs, ankles, toes

As with any physical movement, proper form and technique is essential to truly maximise the full range of motion of the movement attempted in a controlled state. Hands/wrists/forearms work together to establish gripping to hold onto the bar, and stability to move vertically (Not forwards and backwards!). Activating your core muscles aid to this upper body stabilisation whilst hanging. Legs are straight with ankles together, with the toes facing downwards to make the rest of your body a solid board.

3. Unbroken reps

Once the form is mastered the most important milestone that needs to be met is 18-20 unbroken (continuous reps without coming off the bar) reps with controlled form to ensure that muscular strength and endurance are at sufficient levels.

4. Back-swing

This is arguably the toughest component that people struggle with when performing the muscle-up as this is the transition of getting over the bar and requires swinging backwards (utilizing your latissimus dorsi muscles) in a diagonal manner.

5. Wrist rotation

The final component is reaching the height of the back swing to elevate your entire upper torso over the bar and then rotating your wrist over the bar (base of the palms over the bar) into a dip position with the arms locked out.

**To improve on the muscle-up or overall body weight strength and conditioning, please email Keith at [email protected] to get a free consultation.