Muscle-Ups: CrossFit’s Finest Move

Muscle-ups are tough workouts as they challenge your core and upper body. But going through its progressions in a sequence will help you master this workout and become skillful at it. And after that, it becomes a smoother run. In this article, we will describe tips and progressions to help you become more efficient with this workout, so read on.

What are Muscle-Ups?

The muscle-ups belong to the category of calisthenics and are an advanced training workout that uses upper body strength. During this workout, you demonstrate the strength of your arms and hands to lift your body weight. This workout starts similarly to a pull-up exercise. i.e., you hang down with your arms holding a pull-up bar. However, instead of concluding your rep at the chin height, you reach the waist height, fully extending your arms. Your legs remain dangling below the bar.

Importance of Muscle-Ups

Are muscle-ups worth adding to your workout regimen? The short answer is YES. How? Below are the reasons muscle-ups may be an important part of your workout routine.

Enhanced Grip Strength

Grip strength goes a long way toward your overall performance in the gym, ultimately enhancing your gains. Several CrossFit exercises like deadlifts, rope climbs, and pull-ups require optimum grip strength. With muscle-ups, not only must you pull yourself up but also put your entire body weight on your hands, enhancing your grip strength from different aspects.

Enhanced Arm Strength

The muscle-up tends to train every muscle in your arm. The two major arm muscles are the biceps and triceps, both of which are usually trained through different workouts. But with muscle-ups, you can train these muscles concurrently with a greater balance. As a result, the muscle growth in your arms remains symmetrical, and strength is enhanced in all muscle groups.

Core Body Training

Muscle-ups are primarily a workout to train your arms, but the rest of the body also plays a significant role. For instance, you may notice tightening in your upper body, particularly in the core muscles. This effect is pretty similar to that of planks. It contributes to fat melting and abs getting prominent. This workout also complements other weight loss exercises, helping you lose fat around the belly area.

Glute Muscles

Muscle-ups can be significantly beneficial for the glutes. This is because when moving up, your butt muscles get clenched. This tightening is followed by a healthy burn in the area, which makes your posterior muscles leaner and stronger.

Back Muscles

The back muscles close to your shoulders get pumped up pretty significantly during muscle-ups. This is why fitness trainers performing this exercise on a routine develop a prominent V shape of the back.

Variations of Muscle-Ups

There are four main muscle-up variations you can use to train your upper body muscles. Let’s have a quick overview of these variations.

Kipping Bar Muscle-Up

The Kipping Bar Muscle Up

Although this variation is the easiest of all four muscle-up variations, it still requires enough strength for chest or sternum-to-bar pull-ups and straight bar dips. You will need to create momentum to drive yourself through the transition by kicking your legs in the air. You can also allow your body to swing a little during the lower pull-up position and create momentum for the pull by swinging backward.

Additionally, instead of pulling the bar straight down, you must pull it in front of you slightly. This step will allow you to form an ‘S’ body shape.

The Kipping Muscle-Up

The Kipping Ring Muscle Up

Performing a kipping muscle-up with rings is understandably harder since rings are not stable like an overhead bar. However, this workout can be easy in the sense that it doesn’t require you to bend your body around anything, as done during a kipping bar muscle-up.

That said, you may need prior experience performing muscle-ups before you move to the rings. This is because this workout stretches the shoulders a bit too extensively. Hence, if you have issues like shoulder pain, you may choose not to perform this workout.

The kipping ring muscle-up works the same way as its bar-based counterpart – you will need to kick your legs in the air to create momentum to move up. To make this move convenient, you can bend your body a bit backward to create a power pull. You will need to make another fast-forward move when your chest is at the ring level. The final dip is generally completed by bringing the elbows back and tight to the sides.

The Strict Bar Muscle-Up

Strict Bar Muscle Up

This muscle-up workout is where things might become a bit hard since it eliminates the momentum to pull the body up. This workout involves a false and narrower grip than a regular pull-up grip. You can move your arms wider with time. This workout involves curving the body around the bar, creating an L-sit position in the air. But if you cannot do that, make sure to bring at least some part of your legs in front of the bar.

The Strict Muscle-Up

The Strict Ring Muscle Up

This advanced muscle-up workout involves a false grip and an understanding of using the body weight to assist the pull. The best way to accomplish this is to keep the overall movement tight and hands and rings close to the body when you pull yourself up.

To start this workout, you will need to go with a false grip and get to the lower pull-up position. It would be ideal to form an L-sit position as it assists the pull by creating helpful movement.

Muscle-Up Progression Tips

  • Basics: With your basics covered, you can progress with the muscle-up workout pretty well. Speaking of basics, the first thing you must pay attention to is your body strength, without which you won’t be able to accomplish a muscle-up. You can build this strength by performing pull-ups.
  • Straight bar dips: This progression involves getting on top of the bar and pushing it as deep as possible. After that, bring your body down and hit the bar with your chest.
  • Explosive strength: Once you have performed 8-10 pull-ups, now is the time to progress to explosive pull-ups. For this, you will need to pull yourself a bit upper than traditional pull-ups and try to hit the bar with your chest.
  • Swing: The exercise to improve your swing involves holding the bar overhead and moving your body forward as much as you can while keeping your feet on the ground.
  • Assisted muscle-up: This muscle-up workout involves exercising with the help of your partner or by using resistance bands. Make sure to bring your waistline to the bar level.
  • Full muscle-up: Once you can perform a few reps with resistance bands, try performing full muscle-ups. You may kip your knees to introduce some momentum into the exercise.

Wrapping Up

If you want to train a large number of muscle groups in the shoulders, arms, back, and core without performing several workouts, muscle-ups are a way to go. It is an exceptional upper-body workout to build muscles and optimum strength. The CrossFit muscle-ups are particularly more challenging and help build explosive strength.

That said, it is imperative to keep your workout on track by exercising under the watch of a professional coach. They will help you with the technique and speed of the workout, enhancing your prospects of gaining big.