How to: Muscle ups

The muscle up is one of the most fun, challenging movements you can do in a gym. Fitness First PT Ben Young explains how to train for it.

The muscle up is the gateway exercise to performing more complex skills on the rings. It has exploded in popularity because it challenges the traditional model of training for upper body strength, and has a cool, impressive new skill set that many are keen to learn.

It’s the only movement that requires pulling and pushing strength in one sequence. To perform the move correctly, you must overcome the most crushing part: the transition. This requires two very challenging components you need to train for: first, you must have the strength to pull yourself up, and second, you must have the shoulder extension to push up through the rings. Here’s how to train for it.

 1  The German Hang

It might seem strange to train for the transition first, but trust me, this is where you should begin. You might be strong, but if you don’t have proper shoulder mobility, you can easily injure yourself. As you get stronger with this exercise, challenge yourself by taking your feet off the floor, holding in the stretch and resisting the pull of gravity. This creates load on the tissues you want to grow to help you get into the position of the transition.

 2  Muscle up Eccentrics 

Lowering from the top of the rings down

We’re always stronger in our eccentric lifts (lowering phase) than in our concentric lifts (lifting phase). With this exercise you can use eccentric repetitions to improve strength and help overcome the plateaus in achieving your muscle up.

 3  Banded MU Transitions

If you want to hit goals, use the most effective tools for the job. This exercise isolates the difficult transition move, loading the position with a healthy dose of tissue adaptation and strength building. It can be integrated back into the muscle up movement later on, giving you great progress in strength and ability. Be aware that bands are only useful when the tension on the band remains the same. Try not to fall through the band, and always return to the bottom of the transition movement with your hands constantly touching your chest.