How to Achieve Your First Muscle Up

After saying to myself that I was going to do it for over a year now, I finally took the time and practiced until I was able to do my first muscle up. I had forgotten what it’s like to do an exercise you never were able to do before – and I will tell you it feels great.

What makes the muscle up so fun to learn is that most people can’t do it. It’s the same idea behind getting really good at the butterfly stroke for those of you who swim. It’s not really necessary for a good workout…but you look sweet doing it. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little showing off here and there.

What is a Muscle Up?

A muscle up is when you do a normal pull up, and then continue to go up pushing your arms down into a dip like movement. At the end, you’re straight on top of the bar when your arms back down. Here’s a video demonstrating how to do it:

Working Your Way Up to Your First Muscle-Up…

You’re probably not going to be able to watch a video and then go out and do a perfect muscle up. If you are able to – well, that’s impressive. But for the rest of us – you need to work your way up. Both strength and technique are involved, and you need both to get the exercise.

Building Strength:

Building strength for this is pretty straightforward. You’ll want to focus on pull-ups, dips, and some lower leg lifts for your abs (not necessary but helpful). Once you can do all of those exercises for more than 10 repetitions each, you’re strong enough and just need to work on technique.


This is how I learned how to do it.

Part 1:

This may have been ugly and it may have hurt a bit – but you’ve done your first muscle-up! It only gets easier after this.

Part 2:

Start with a normal pull up, kick your legs for momentum, try to get a little swing going. While in the swing, kick up and get to the top of the bar, bend one elbow up quickly and push yourself over the bar. Now bring your other arm up, and do the dip. You’re starting to look good now, and it’s time to reach the final stage.

Part 3:

Swing back and forth on the bar, kick your legs for momentum mid swing, reach the end of the bar and bend both elbows up, push yourself over the bar and down and complete your first, beautifully done muscle-up. Good work!

Here’s a really nice video tutorial:


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