This is probably the best muscle-up tutorial online right now. In the video below, Matthew J. Simmons demonstrates a progression you can follow to go from a rank beginner to mastering muscle-ups.
There are basically three parts to the muscle-up: the pull-up, the transition, and then the dip. Those are the three parts we’ll be focusing on. Every exercise in the progression will be bodyweight to keep things simple. Do each exercise for several sets of 3-5 reps.
Learning the The Pull-up
Do you suck at pull-ups? Make sure you check out our article “7 Reasons Why You’re STILL Struggling With Pull-Ups!” for a bunch of tips to help you get on your way.
Exercise 1. Bodyweight row from the floor.
Exercise 2. Feet-elevated bodyweight row. This is more challenging than the row from the floor. You’ll do this until you’re comfortable enough to move onto the next exercise.
Exercise 3. Assisted pull-up. These feel pretty weird at first but they are going to make things easier.
Exercise 4. Basic ring pull-up. Once you can do a decent amount of these pretty easily, you might be ready to start working on the actual muscle-up.
Learning The False Grip
Now we’re going to look at one of the most important parts of the muscle-up: the false grip. As you can see, the heel of your hand goes on top of the ring. This is very different compared to a regular grip. A false grip puts you higher above the rings at the top of the pull-up because it eliminates the wrist joint. This makes the transition into the dip a little easier.
Once you have the false grip, you should use it for all of the other exercises we’ve looked into – the row, the elevated row, the assisted pull-up – if you can do ’em with a false grip, do it. The false grip is crucial to mastering the transition and learning it will speed up your progress.
Learning The Dip
Exercise 1. Basic push-up. I’m sure most of you can do these and probably won’t even have to do this step but if you can’t, start here and master push-ups before you move on.
Exercise 2. Decline ring push-up. This next one is going to be awkward if it’s your first time on rings – they can get pretty wobbly, but you’ll get used to it pretty quick.
Exercise 3. Level ring push-up. The deeper you go on these, the more it will assist your transition.
Exercise 4. Feet-elevated ring dip.
Exercise 5. Ring dip. This is essentially half of the muscle-up. Again, go as deep as you can and get your hands as close to your shoulders as possible as this will help out your transition a whole lot.
Putting It All Together
Now we’re going to put it all together.
Exercise 1. Assisted muscle-up negative. Start with your feet on a stool or a chair and support yourself like you were doing with the assisted dip. Just go backwards as slow as you can. When you do these, you should work on getting your hands into the correct position. You’ll see that once you get into the transition, they should naturally curl into the rings.
Exercise 2. Negative muscle-up (without assistance). Again, go very slowly – the slower you go, the more muscle you’ll build. This is what’s going to actually build your strength. These are pretty hard and they’ll tear your hands up quite a bit. It’s just something that happens, but tape can help a lot.
Exercise 3. Assisted muscle-up. Once you’re comfortable with those, you’ll go ahead and work on the assisted muscle-up. You’re just going to start at the bottom of the negative and go the other way. I find that these are more appropriate for building skill than they are for building strength. This exercise will teach you how it’s going to feel when you do the actual muscle-up.
It’s honestly going to take a long time of working on negatives and mastering the false grip before you can do your first muscle-ups. Once you get there, rock it out.
For extra motivation, check out this sweet video of our friend Anna Hulda Olafsdottir doing some L-sit muscle-ups.
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