How to Perform Muscle Up Without Wrecking Your Shoulders: A Beginner’s Guide
The first thing you need to know is that there are two types of muscle ups – Ring and Bar Muscle Ups. They both require different skills and training methods.
For example, you cannot perform a ring muscle up without using your hands, while performing a bar muscle up requires your body weight. You will learn more about these differences later in this article.
There are many ways to perform a muscle up. Some people like to use their arms only while others prefer using all four limbs.
There are various positions that you can take during a muscle up, such as lying down or standing up from them. However, it is very important to start with the basics because they will make your workout much easier and more enjoyable.
Before we get into the details of each exercise, let us define some terms.
Ring Muscle Up: This type of muscle up involves placing one hand on top of another and then pulling yourself up using your other arm. This is done by holding onto something heavy (a ring, barbell, etc.) so that you don’t fall off.
It is usually performed with dumbbells or kettle bells.
Bar Muscle Up: In this case, you will be using a barbell. Your palms should be facing away from you, and your hands should be placed just outside of your shoulders.
From there, pull yourself up with the strength of your arms (this is similar to a bench press movement).
Muscle Up Tutorial
You can use either a barbell or a pair of rings to perform this exercise. However, if you are just starting out then it is highly recommended that you go with the barbell.
Pick a barbell that you can easily lift. Hold it with your palms facing away from you and your hands just outside of your shoulders.
While making sure to keep your elbows locked in place, exhale and then pull yourself up.
Once your chin is above the bar, hold it for a second and then slowly lower yourself back down.
Note: As you get stronger, you can increase the weight of the barbell that you are using.
Muscle Up Tip: Remember to keep your core tight at all times! This will keep your body straight and will prevent injury.
Muscle Up Progression #1 – Strict
Strict Muscle Up Tutorial
The first type of muscle up that you can try is called a Strict Muscle Up. This involves the same motions as in the tutorial, but with one big difference: your body cannot swing during the exercise.
In other words, when you pull yourself up, your elbows should not bend at all. This strictness will allow you to focus on your form and build up strength in your arms.
Muscle Up Tip: It is normal for your body to swing during the first few strict muscle ups. Do not worry about this; it usually goes away after a few reps.
Muscle Up Progression #2 – Kipping
The next type of Muscle Up is called a Kipping Muscle Up. As the name implies, this involves “kipping” or using hip movements to get yourself up to the bar.
This type of muscle up requires more strength than the strict muscle up, but is usually easier to learn.
Kipping Muscle Up Tutorial
Begin in the same position as you would for a strict muscle up.
When you pull yourself up, use your arms and torso to throw your knees towards your head.
Then use your lower body to throw your upper body up and over the bar. As you are going over, bend your elbows so that they can absorb your weight.
As you begin to lower yourself down, extend your arms so that you don’t hit the ground.
Muscle Up Tip: This type of muscle up is all about momentum. Do not worry about the perfect technique; as long as you are getting yourself over the bar then you are good.
Muscle Up Progression #3 – Australian
The next progression involves the use of a “false grip”. This involves using your thumb to grip the bar in such a way that it provides more leverage when you are pulling your body up and over.
This allows you to lift heavier weights as well. However, many people find the thumb grip uncomfortable and/or unnatural.
If this is the case, then you can simply use a regular grip.
Australian Muscle Up Tutorial
Use an overhand grip on the bar, just like you would for a kipping muscle up.
Instead of flexing your arms when you throw your knees up and over the bar, you are going to pull yourself up with your arms and then rotate your hands so that your palms are facing you.
Then, without dropping, push yourself up with your arms so that the palms of your hands are gripping the top of the bar. Bend your elbows and then lower yourself down slowly.
Muscle Up Tip: This advanced version of the kipping muscle up allows you to use more weight. However, it is harder to learn because you must “pop” your body up with your arms and then rotate your hands around the bar.
Muscle Up Progression #4 – Rings
Normal pull-ups and pull-ups on bars are great, but once you get strong enough, they can become a little boring at times. The next muscle up variation involves the use of gymnastic rings.
Rings are much harder to find, and they tend to be a little more expensive. If you have the money though, they are definitely worth the investment.
Rings can be used in a variety of ways. Here are just a few:
This grip type involves holding the rings with your hands in an uneven manner. This is accomplished by either having one hand over the bar and one hand under the bar or by having one hand outside and one hand inside the rings.
Muscle Up Tutorial – Uneven Grip
Begin by placing the rings low enough so that you can jump and grab them with one hand. Then, pull yourself into the position shown in the picture.
Next, pull your knees up to your chest as you would for a kipping muscle up. Then, throw your knees over the rings as you extend your arms.
Muscle Up Tip: This grip is great for beginners because it allows you to use your legs to help get yourself up. Just make sure that you keep your knees pulled in so that they do not hit the ground when you are going over the rings.
This grip type involves holding the rings with your hands placed on the rings in such a way that it makes the rings turn. This is a much more technical grip that takes some time to get used to.
Rolling Muscle Up Tutorial
With this grip, you are going to want the rings much higher so that you do not hit your head on the ground when you begin the roll. After you grab the rings, you are going to pull your body underneath your arms and then begin to turn the rings as you extend your arms.
Muscle Up Tip: At first, this movement is going to be very awkward. Keep working at it and you will get it soon enough!
Rolling with Knee Tuck
This is a combination of the rolling grip and the kipping muscle up. It takes some extra strength and flexibility, but if you are up for the challenge, then try rolling with a knee tuck.
Muscle Up Tip: This one is for the pros!
These are just a few of the MANY different ring grips and muscle up variations. The best way to learn them all is by going to a park or gym that has rings and working with a friend who is experienced in them.
Muscle Up Progression #5 – Free Standing Horizontal Bar
Another excellent piece of outdoor equipment that can be used for muscle ups is a free standing horizontal bar. These bars are very common in parks, so if you are having trouble finding rings, look for a park with this piece of equipment.
Muscle Up Tutorial – Standing Bar
This grip involves placing your hands shoulder width apart on a horizontal bar that is just above waist height. You can jump up and grab the bar or you can place one hand on the ground and use it to help you leap up and grab the bar.
From here, you will perform a kipping muscle up in the same manner as the rings.
Muscle Up Tip: These are some of the best pieces of equipment for muscle ups, but they are rarely found outside. You may need to travel some distance to get to one.
These bars are very sturdy and can withstand your weight, but you should still be careful when using them. Make sure that no one else is going to use it while you are there because it would be very dangerous if someone jumped on the bar when you were in the middle of a muscle up.
Always perform a safety check to make sure the bar is solid and will not break before jumping up to grab it. If you find any weaknesses, do not use the bar and find another one.
Sources & references used in this article:
Do psychological factors predict changes in musculoskeletal pain?: A prospective, two-year follow-up study of a working population by AM Estlander, EP Takala… – Journal of occupational …, 1998 – journals.lww.com
How to fail in project management (without really trying) by JK Pinto, OP Kharbanda – Business Horizons, 1996 – go.gale.com
The Way of Chuang Tzu by T Merton – 2004 – books.google.com
” My Heart Couldn’t Take It” Older Women’s Beliefs About Exercise Benefits and Risks by SOB Cousins – The Journals of Gerontology Series B …, 2000 – academic.oup.com
A balanced approach: the Alexander technique by H Mayers, L Babits – Music Educators Journal, 1987 – journals.sagepub.com
Core strength: a new model for injury prediction and prevention by WF Peate, G Bates, K Lunda, S Francis… – Journal of Occupational …, 2007 – Springer
Flexing the tensions of female muscularity: How female bodybuilders negotiate normative femininity in competitive bodybuilding by L Boyle – Women’s Studies Quarterly, 2005 – JSTOR