The Muscle up is an exercise that many young adepts of calisthenics look up to.

It’s absolutely not an easy exercise to do, as it demands a lot of strength and proper technique.

If you have been looking for a good tutorial, you couldn’t have found a better one!

In this article, we describe how to progress from absolutely nothing to a crystal clear muscle up.

            At first, we need to understand that this compound exercise consists of two major movements – pull & push – pull for a pull up, push for a dip.

However, the most difficult part is the transition, when you have to pull your body high enough to switch into pushing exercise.

The key to a muscle up success is a proper strength and a perfect form of the 3 aforementioned elements. If we break them down even more, here’s what we get:

  • Pull up
  • Passive hang
  • Active hang
  • Assisted pull up
  • Negative
  • Full pull up
  • Dip
  • Front support position
  • Assisted dip
  • Negative
  • Full dip
  • Transition
  • Dip low position (hold)
  • Pull up high position (hold)

Let’s treat these exercises as a framework for your muscle up progression.

You should work out at least 3 days a week, 20-30 minutes per each to see noticeable progress.

If you are able to do at least 10 repetitions of one element, you can move on to the next one.

Before we move on to a detailed description of each element, we would like to increase your awareness when it comes to a proper technique.

We wouldn’t recommend kipping, jerking or swaying in order to do a muscle up.

It might be tempting, but if you start doing it, you might gain an erroneous muscle memory that will spoil your form and impede your progress. So remember – stay away from bad habits.


The first essential element is a pull up.

It builds your strength, engaging your forearms, biceps and upper back. You can try this exercise on rings or bars, but we’d recommend sticking to the bar, as you get more stabilisation.

The start position is called a passive hang, where you mainly rely on the strength of your grip.

During this exercise, you should maintain a hollow body, raise your shoulder blades, keep your elbows locked out and head between the arms.

You can combine it and use interchangeably with active hang position, where everything remains the same, but you retract your scapulae and contract your lats; it will help you engage more with your back muscles rather than focus on the arms’ strength.

If you can handle both forms for at least 60 sec, you are good to move on to the next element.


The next progression is assisted pull ups and negatives.

There are plenty of different variations of this exercise.

One variation consists of doing feet supported pull ups (straight,  bent, one leg) or you can use resistance band that will take some of your weight off.

Once you get used to that, you can do some negatives – position yourself in the high position (head over the bar, full contraction) and slowly go down to a passive hang. If you can repeat it 10 times, you are good to do the full pull up.


When it comes to a full pull up, remember not to pull yourself to your chin, but to your chest.

It’s better to imagine as if you had to pull all the way up to your waist. It gives you the impression and mental capability of getting the most of this movement.

To summarize – start with passive hang, activate your scapulae and lats in the active hang, bring your body up to the bar so it touches your chest and lower down in slow, controlled motion until you reach the passive hang position again.


The second element is dips which engage delts, pecs and most importantly – the triceps.

That exercise increases your push strength required for a proper muscle up.

Front support position requires you to put your hands on elevation (chair, sofa, bar, etc.) while standing with your back to it (when on a bar you support your body on it; arms fully extended, straight hollow body). Place your feet (bent, straight, one-leg, elevated) and bend your elbows so they create a 90-degree angle.

Next, you can use a resistant band to do the same on a bar and eventually get rid of it by doing a full dip.

The whole point in this exercise is to engage your chest muscles by leaning forward and widening your grip.

When on a bar you won’t be able to fully rely on your triceps, but that doesn’t mean you have to neglect them. If you can do at least 10 full dips, you can move to the transition.


As we mentioned before, the transition is the most difficult part of the muscle up so you will probably spend some time on this element.

You need to bear in mind that your elbows will be subject to a lot of pushing force once you will try to get over the bar.

Start with the isometric hold with the bar at the chest level and try to stay there at least for 15 seconds.

After that move on to the low dip position and go as low as possible to get used to this position.

If you can hold it for 15 seconds, you are ready for the last element.


That’s how we got to the proper muscle up. The whole trick right now is to bring all of the elements together but in reverse order.

Start from the high position of muscle up (front support) and do the negative all the way down to the passive hang.

If you can repeat that 10 times, you are ready to do your first muscle up.

Each element of this progression has been carefully selected and structured according to difficulty level – from easiest to the hardest. The whole process is fun and you shouldn’t forget that. Being able to enjoy it, having little victories makes this sport worthwhile.

If you stall on one element – that’s normal, we all have been there.

Just keep pushing forward and eventually, you will get there.

Remember that we train not only our body but most importantly our mind.

Thank you for reading our article.

We hope that you found it helpful when it comes to a muscle up tutorial.

If something is not clear, feel free to ask us in comments down below and we will help you out. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *