Calisthenics Bar Muscle-Up Technique

The muscle-up is an explosive movement which requires strength, technique and coordination where you pull yourself from a hanging position up and around the bar into a dip position. It's a common Calisthenics movement which helps you get from point A to point B in an effective way.

Muscle-Up Technique in 4 steps

Simply put, the muscle-up is performed using four steps. First, create momentum by swinging forward into a magic button press, then pulling yourself back using your back. Thereafter you want to lean over the bar and get the hip as close to the bar as possible, then push yourself up in a dip position to straight arms. In this blog post we take a closer look at each step of the muscle-up.

1. Magic Button Press

Put an object on the floor, about a large steg in front of the pull-up bar. Stand behind the bar and take a step forward while gripping the bar about shoulder wide with your palms facing away from you (thumb over bar). Take another step while in the air, lengthen yourself and imagine your pressing down onto the imaginary object with both feet. Think about having straight arms and legs throughout the movement.


2. The Pull-back

From the stretched out position in the Magic Button Press you want to pull yourself back and upwards by pressing the bar underneath you with straight arms. Make sure you activate the core and back by pressing the scapula down and back into the upper back. This leads to an arching pull motion along the bar. Keep your legs and hip infront of you, as straight as possible. If this is too heavy, start with your knees or hip bent to gain more momentum, like in the video.


3. Pull the bar to the hip

When you see the bar infront of you, pull the bar close to your hip and lean the upper body over the bar. At the same time, switch the grip from a hanging/pull grip to a supporting/push grip. It's important to pull yourself as high up as possible in step 2 in order to get the bar close to the hip, and not too far away. Practice step 2 until you get enough height and see the bar infront of you before moving onto step 3.


4. Straight bar dip

The final step of the muscle-up is performing a straight bar dip. Push yourself up with an even push and both elbows pointing back until you got straight arms and reach "support" at the top. Practice getting enough momentum from step 3 to the bottom of the dip position and the dip will feel easier to perform.


Important to think about technique

How you start training a movement like the muscle-up creates a pattern in your future training. You will gain a lot by practicing the correct technique right from start. There's a few common mistakes that you easily can avoid by being aware of them in your training, from get get-go.

Pull yourself up, around the bar

It's common that you look at the muscle-up like a up and down motion, which leads to you pulling from the bottom and hitting your chest right into the bar. While the muscle-up technique is more about going around the bar, in a curve. By taking a step in the magic button press movement you initiate a pulling motion at a slight arch around the bar that makes it possible go from underneath to above the bar. However, to perform strict muscle-ups without this movement, you would need a false-grip.

Stay close to the bar

Pulling yourself up and away from the bar makes it hard to go from step 2 to step 3, when you're at the correct height. Make sure that you're pulling up and slightly close to the bar to counter ending up too far away from the bar. You're the strongest when you are as close to the bar as possible and that's key for all movements on the bar.

Avoid Chicken-Wing Muscle-Up

It's easy to pull more with a dominant side and sort of lean over the bar with one shoulder in front of the other, also called "chicken-wing muscle-up". This can cause damages to the shoulder and you're getting used to a incorrect movement at the same time. This can take a long time to get rid of when you've gotten used to it. Make sure you mater step 1 and 2 before moving onto step 3 to avoid this.

To summarize

Muscle-up technique is about pulling yourself from point A to point B as effective as possible. By generating lots of power in the bottom position, activating and timing the right muscles at the right time you pull yourself up and around the bar, into a muscle-up. Practice and master each step before moving onto the next one to get the right technique and strength that is needed to execute clean muscle-ups.

If you want to speed the process of learning muscle-ups up we offer PT in Stockholm with focus on learning this and PT Online if you're located elsewhere.

Andra artiklar


Take your training to the next level, in whichever way fits you best. We offer both unlimited group classes and personal training with tailor made programming to your goals.