Ballistic bodyweight bar training for superior strength and stamina is exploding in popularity, in parks and outdoor gyms all over the world. An infinite array of intense exercise variations has fuelled a global phenomenon on the internet, with top bodyweight professionals attracting millions of views and inspiring a generation of fitness fanatics. Now you do it too. Fantastic!
One of the most impressive and famous bodyweight moves is the Muscle Up, a dynamic and intense extension of the ‘regular’ army-style pull up.
“The Muscle Up involves an explosive pronated-grip pull up to launch your torso high over the bar to height with a seamless transition to holding your body with straight arms on top of the pull up bar. “
Over the last few years, the modern Muscle-Up has rocketed to international fame as an iconic strength move due to the innovative You Tube training clips of American bodyweight masters such as the incredible Zef from Brooklyn and the shredded Hannibal from Queens in New York.
The current Official Guinness World Record for Muscle Ups is held by local Bondi boy (and ex – Special Forces soldier) Jarryd Rubinstein, who was sufficiently inspired to go out and bust out 26 fast, fluid Muscle Ups, smashing the previous record of 21 reps set by a Chinese Olympic gymnast. The Muscle Up World Record rules set out by Guinness are very precise and stipulate strict form, disallowing kipping or swinging the knees for momentum or resting at the top of the bar between reps. Jarryd’s World Record of 26 Muscle Ups is a now a YouTube sensation and has stood for three years, despite many concerted attempts to break it by amazingly strong crews from all over the world.
With such popularity within the fitness community and cultural recognition online, many fitness enthusiasts are now inspired to learn how to bust out a few smooth, strict Muscle Ups.
Of course, the Muscle Up is not only an impressive ‘trick’; it is a full-on example of body control and truly functional human strength that stuns people who have only ever seen or done ‘regular’ pull ups!
MUSCLE UP TRAINING PROGRAM AND TECHNIQUE GUIDE
So you want to learn how to do a Muscle Up? Great! Mastering the Muscle Up is not easy; it can take years for some people to achieve and it may elude others forever. Check out the exclusive Muscle Up training guide that myself and World Record Holder, Jarryd Rubinstein formulated. This guide has helped thousands of people to successfully perform Muscle Ups and comes in a simple, logical two-step program, outlined below.
Stage 1 – Developing dynamic and explosive pull up strength
First off, you will need to develop explosive and dynamic Pull Up strength. From now on you must train yourself to explode up from a dead hang position when you perform all your Pull Ups. No more lazy, slow Pull Ups to your chin; our goal is much, much higher!
To begin, place your palms in pronated Pull Up position (palms facing away from your body) slightly wider than shoulder width apart, and wrap your thumbs around the bar.
Then, take two deep breaths and PULL UP – as high and fast as you can go – NOT to your chin, but aim to pull the bar ‘down’, launching you chest past the bar and as high as you can go!
While you learn, it’s OK to just do two or three explosive Pull Ups and you can also swing/kip your knees up towards your shoulders with speed for assisted momentum.
When you start, you may only be able to explode up to your neck region. But after a while you will be able to get higher and higher! As you develop explosive Pull Up strength, you will be able to get the bar to your chest; then your navel; then your thighs! Not only will you feel the muscular intensity in your triceps, lats and rear delts, but your hand and forearm strength will also multiply.
Once you can do ten fast, explosive pull ups to your chest, then begin to aim your torso higher – aim to explode right up to your lower pecs. Shoot for at least tend good high, fast pull ups to your lower chest. If you can launch high enough to get bar to your abs, even better! You will now be ready to tackle Stage 2 of Muscle Up training. Excellent!
Tip: You can attach small weights (1-5 kg) in a weight vest or back pack to add intensity to your training, but only after you can do 5 explosive Pull Ups.
Stage 2 – Getting comfortable on top of the bar
OK, now to train for the second part of the Muscle Up movement.
Stand in starting position for a Pull Up, as above but with your feet on the ground. Then use just one foot to ‘jump’ your body up onto the bar so you are actually in final Muscle Up position. Your arms should be pushing straight down, holding you up on the bar.
Take time on top of the bar to get used to the balance and strength required to be up on the bar; experiment with your bodyweight – lean forward, lean back and side-to-side. Acclimatize to your limits and understand the physical dynamics of being up there on the bar, so that when you actually try your first ‘proper’ Muscle Up and launch yourself up on the bar, you are not ‘new’ to the position and know how to ‘handle’ your body up there.
Once you are comfortable on top of the bar, perform some dips – dip down as low as you can, down to your chest and then explode UP with a fast dip. Repeat as many reps as you can to fortify your ability of Stage 2 of Muscle Up training. Awesome!
“ALTHOUGH THE MUSCLE UP BEGAN LIFE AS A TOUGH, OLD SCHOOL STRENGTH TRAINING EXERCISE FOR OLYMPIC GYMNASTS, IT IS NOW THE RESPECTED STANDARD FOR PHYSICAL STRENGTH AND ABILITY ON PULL UP BARS AND STREEET GYMS EVERYWHERE”
Now you must work on the swift technical skill of seamlessly linking Stage One and Two together in order to achieve one full correct Muscle Up. It may be helpful to watch Jarryd’s World Record Muscle Up clip at the top of this page, to visualize the technique and movement.
Execute your explosive Pull-Up, slightly releasing your grip on the way up to transition you hand position to go on the bar and then, as you get to the highest upward trajectory point you can possibly achieve, flip your elbows forward and push down with your arms, pressing your body up onto and over the bar.
To ensure a higher ‘launch’ in Stage 1, try standing with your feet about 30cm behind the floor line of the Pull Up bar with elbows slightly bent; then, as you take your feet off the ground, you will swing forward. Go with the swing and as you begin to swing back, Pull Up explosively and kick your knees up towards your chin for added momentum. As you develop technique and become stronger, learn to use less momentum, with less swinging and kipping until your can perform a strict, World Record quality Muscle Up.
“THE MUSCLE UP IS NOT ONLY AN IMPRESSIVE ‘TRICK’; IT IS A FULL-ON EXAMPLE OF BODY CONTROL AND TRULY FUNCTIONAL HUMAN STRENGTH THAT STUNS PEOPLE WHO HAVE ONLY EVER SEEN OR DONE ‘REGULAR’ PULL UPS!”
Now, do as many as you can!
If you have any tips for achieving Muscle Ups, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!