The Muscle-Up: The Single Best Upper-Body Exercise
Yes, I said it. What other exercise trains virtually every muscle in the upper body? None! By combining the two most foundational upper-body exercises for relative strength – the pull-up and the dip – the muscle-up is a super exercise.
The main issue? Most people lack the basic strength required to do it. To competently perform this movement, you need to have a solid foundation of relative strength and low body fat. Even then, the transition phase gets tricky.
So, if you're relatively lean and want to unlock this elite exercise, here's where to start:
- Build a solid strength foundation in both strict pull-ups and strict ring dips. Strength before skill! Once you can easily perform 5 unbroken, false-grip ring pull-ups and 5 unbroken ring dips (externally rotating the thumbs at the top of each dip), you should be strong enough to do a muscle-up.
- Master the transition. The transition is the skill of getting your head and shoulders from below the rings to above the rings for the dip portion. The transition phase can prove elusive for many, even if they possess the requisite strength.
Use the Toes-to-Rings Technique
Start in a dead hang with a false grip on the rings, then lift your toes before you pull with your arms. Lifting your toes first forces your hips to follow, thereby raising your center of gravity and allowing you to get your upper body on top of the rings more easily.
While this isn't exactly a "strict" muscle-up, this technique will allow you to perform many more "strict-ish" muscle-ups. Incorporating the toes-to-rings technique is the best way for beginners to master the strict muscle-up because it allows them to accumulate more reps. The more reps you get under your belt, the more your technique improves.