Why You Can’t Do a Muscle Up

Why You Can’t Do a Muscle Up


Muscle up is a great exercise that allows you to quickly get over the bar. It is an iconic move in street workout or calisthenics and it just looks awesome. A lot of beginners have a hard time learning it though so in this video I’m gonna tell you why is that and how get over that issue. So why can’t you do a muscle up? The answer is very simple, cause you’re a pussy. Ok, but there’s another reason that we can actually do something about. First of all you have to acknowledge that there are 2 types of muscle up. There’s a pure strength muscle up and there’s a dynamic or gymnastic muscle up. The strength one is based on the premise, that you generate so much velocity from the pull up that it shoots you vertically upwards to a point where you can throw your elbows above the bar and push up. I would show you a really good strength muscle up myself, but I have some pain in my ankle, so you know… I’m not gonna risk it. This kind of muscle up is quite advanced, because you must have a lot pulling strength. You have to be able to do very high pull ups, at least to a point where the bar touches your sternum. or preferably even lower. This can be practiced by doing explosive pull ups, but usually takes months of training to achieve. Now. let’s talk about the second type which can be called dynamic or gymnastic muscle up. It’s also a way to get over the bar, although using not pure strength, but a sequence of dynamic moves that eventually gets your body to the same position. Generally speaking you use your legs to create the momentum and then transfer it on your upper body to easily get over the bar pretty easily. This type of muscle up requires significantly less strength but you have to learn the technique, which also takes some practice. For a more detailed breakdown of the technique check out the tutorial I made for that skill. With that said, the muscle up can be shown on a graph where on the one end of horizontal axis you have the pure strength muscle up and dynamic on the other. Everything in between is a combination of those two. The vertical axis shows the difficulty of the given variation of the muscle up. Pure strength muscle up is the hardest, because as I already said you need a lot of strength to do it. Pure dynamic muscle up isn’t the easiest either, because it needs the perfect technique. However, somewhere in between those two you have your sweet spot, where getting over the bar is the easiest, where getting over the bar is the easiest, and a little bit of swinging technique. These muscle ups look like this. You use all the pulling strength you have and add just a little bit of swing to be able to clear the rep. A lot of beginners see those advanced guys on youtube doing pure strength muscle ups and just try to imitate what they’re doing, which is pulling up high enough to be able to get over the bar, but will most certainly fail. In theory you could get there by just doing pull ups trying to pull yourself up higher and higher until you’re able to throw your elbows above the bar, but that would take ages. The sad thing about the muscle up is, that you can’t do a half rep. You either do it or you don’t. If you’re not successful over and over again it’s very discouraging. On the other hand, if you do succeed even with a sloppy form, it’s highly motivating. So as a beginner you should be aiming at doing the easiest variations of the skill by learning the basics of the swinging technique to get to your first successful attempts as quick as it is possible. Then you can start improving the technique and building strength to steadily move towards the pure strength or pure dynamic variation of the muscle up, depending on your goals. Now turn off the computer and go practice. You’re not gonna learn it by watching tutorial videos over and over again.

96 Replies to “Why You Can’t Do a Muscle Up”

  1. I meant breakdown of the technique not breakout, but I think you know that. Breakdown is also something I had after noticing the mistake just before making the video public. Anyway, there you go, a calisthenics video that so many of you asked for. Thanks for being patient.

  2. I'm in the mix between dynamic and pure strength, trying to go for pure strength and no momentum, I'll get it someday

  3. Man i think you could have explained it better but it was good video, another problem is that the lenght was only 5 mins… Come on i ve been waiting days for the new video.😁

  4. I tried my first muscle up 3 days ago. Did it from the first time (No resistance bands) with your tutorial. It's easy if you are good at pullups, however I ripped the skin of my palm :/

  5. I just got my first muscles up 1 week ago. now i can do two in a row. But i think my way is different, i sort of bend my knees on the way up, have seen other peopl
    e do that to. I will try not too, next time

  6. Last year I ruined my elbow trying to power through it. I was in the teens with my pull-up reps and up around 20 deep dips, all on the rings. I struggled and struggled to put those two pieces together with no kipping. Three days a week, religiously for months.

    Now my (golfer's) elbow still won't allow me back up on the rings. So I stick to weight training and cardio, hoping that I'll have a strong enough tendon someday to try again. I should've learned about form like this video teaches first, but I thought non-strict muscle-ups were for pussies. Oops.

  7. Excuse me. I am not a pussy ;D
    I can do a muscle up, problem is that it's shit, I climb really hard.
    Meh.. I need to do weighted pull ups or be more explosive.. thing is I want to be able to do more reps before adding weight, currently at around 3×10.

  8. I can't do a muscle up because I am fatty who likes eating and watching videos about getting into shape.

  9. Cool video, though you could have mentioned the possibility of doing negative muscle ups, with either a jump or a pull over, the latter being a pretty cool looking move as well =)

  10. You're just great man. Eventhough i kinda struggle with myself because of lacking motivation in tracking my nutrition. I just watch that i get enough proteins and vitamins but i never look at how many calories i consume a day. I hate all this nutrition-topic to be honest. -.-

  11. 2:08 is the best moment of this video, great way to imagine idea of kipping muslce up, strenght mu -> kipping mu -> dynamic mu. The same thing is in l-sit to handstand press ?

  12. I like your narration, it's pretty natural when you are putting your sense of humour into your videos. Much more pleasant to watch than most of super professional calisthenics videos where every video looks the same.

  13. Important thing which helped me is scapula position, to pull high you need your scapula retracted and depressed, it is essential because some people like I did try to do it from dead hang.

  14. thanks for being brutally honest. That helps much more than trying to sell a wrong idea of calisthenics.

  15. I can hold a straddle planche, human flag, front lever, do pullups with half my bodyweight, 90 degree pushups, and I still can't muscle up :/

  16. I still remember the first time doing muscle up. That I felt I simply could rule the world. :D.
    Good video! Thanks

  17. Last time I made my first muscle up with resistance band. This style between strength and dynamic muscle up really works and makes it easier. Now I'm practising pull ups and dips to make my first muscle up without resistance band. Also thanks TrainnigPal for all videos, It boosted my motivation and helped to start streetworkout 🙂

  18. Gr8 video Dave. I want to know the genre of music you put in your videos or atleast share your playlist. They always have that Mass Effect games kind of feel to them…

  19. explosive pull ups are the key be sure you can do more than 10 regular pull up then practise explosive pull up and learn the technique

  20. Hey pal!Will you do an another travelling on budget video soon?I just love those types of videos so I would gladly love you do an another one!

  21. Stop slacking and make more videos! Doesn't matter on what topic, just do it, you, you brother from another mother!

  22. Been training for 4 months. I was able to pull myself high enough to throw the elbows over the bar and couldn't lock it in. The momentum mustle up just seems harder for me.

  23. Broski need to invest in a pair of under pants. Your Crown Jewels were hanging out there (on purpose?).Thought you were going to suffer a crush injury at around 2:03 on the old chuj. Safety First.

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