Muscle Up: Mind-Blowing Exercise For Your Entire Back And Arms

If you’re looking to build upper-body strength, you’ve probably heard of the coveted “muscle up.” However, attempting to perform this advanced exercise can be intimidating, leaving many people feeling frustrated and defeated. Don’t worry, though – you’re not alone in your struggles. Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts struggle with the muscle up, but with the right guidance and training, anyone can learn to perform this impressive feat. In this post, we’ll provide you with the tips and techniques you need to master the muscle up once and for all.

Muscle Up Summary

  • Primary Muscles: Latissimus Dorsi
  • Secondary Muscles: DeltoidPosterior, Levator Scapulae, Pectoralis Major – Sternal, Pectoralis Minor, Rhomboids, Teres Major, and Triceps Long Head
  • Equipment: Pull Up Bar
  • Mechanics Type: Compound
  • Force: Pull
  • Utility: Basic
Graphic image of a fit man performing alternate cable triceps extensions.

Muscle Up Instructions

  • Jump up and grab a high vertical bar with a shoulder-width or a slightly wider.
  • Grip higher around the bar with your wrists flexed and palm positioned over the bar.
  • Swing your legs forward and then as your body swings backward, forcefully pull your body up behind the bar, and throw your knees up for momentum.
  • As your elbows clear the height of the bar from behind, lean over the bar and flex your back while keeping your knee lifted in front of the bar from below.
  • As your elbows are above the bar, extend your arms and knees straight while maintaining a slight bend in your hips.
  • To return to the hang, dip your body down toward the bar, then lower your body down behind the bar until your arms are straight.
  • At the bottom, repeat by swinging your legs forward to start the movement again.

Video Tutorial

How to Muscle Up (Full Tutorial)

Muscle Up Muscles

Target (Agonist)

  • Latissimus Dorsi


Dynamic Stabilizers

  • None


Antagonist Stabilizers

  • None
Image of the skeletal muscular system with the muscles used in the muscle up exercise highlighted in red and the rest in blue.

Benefits of Muscle Up

The Muscle Up is an excellent exercise to include in any strength training or fitness routine due to the number of muscles it targets, particularly the Latissimus Dorsi. The Latissimus Dorsi is a large muscle that is located on the back and helps with activities such as pulling, pushing, and lifting. By performing Muscle Ups, the Latissimus Dorsi is engaged and strengthened, leading to improved posture and enhanced athletic performance. In addition, the exercise also works a variety of other muscle groups, including the triceps, biceps, chest, and shoulders. As such, the Muscle Up can be used to develop overall body strength and power.

Tips for Performing Muscle Up

If you’re seeking to take your muscle up to the next level, then you’ve come to the right place. These tips will help you get more from of this amazing workout, and help you receive all the benefits it has to give. You will develop your lats muscles, and even reduce your chances of developing an injury. It is time to begin and explore how these suggestions will help you.

  • Start Slowly: Start with the basics like pull-ups and dips, so you can build up the strength and technique necessary to move onto the Muscle Up. This will ensure you don’t injure yourself while learning the proper form.
  • Keep Your Elbows In: Make sure to keep your elbows close to your body when performing the Muscle Up. This will help you maintain your balance and make it easier to transition into the move.
  • Take Breaks: Don’t push yourself too hard when first starting out with the Muscle Up. Take breaks when needed and give yourself time to rest between sets. This will help you stay focused and increase your muscle endurance over time.

Benefits and Tips Video


Frequent Mistakes To Avoid

When performing muscle up, avoiding common errors can be the difference to achieving optimal results and avoiding pain. Also, in order to maximize the benefits of the exercise, proper technique is required. Through avoiding common mistakes, you will improve your ability to achieve your desired results. Not only can preventing these errors make you stronger, but also can assist in you feeling more confident and inspired when you hit the gym. Thus, it is now your turn to optimize the impact of this exercise and enjoy the advantages of a successful workout.

  • Not building up strength in the arms: This mistake can lead to injury, as the arms must be strong enough to support the body weight during the exercise.
  • Not maintaining a straight line from shoulders to hips: Keeping the body in a straight line is important to prevent strain on the back and shoulders while performing the exercise.
  • Not having a spotter: A spotter can help ensure proper form and reduce the risk of injury during the exercise.

Find More Bodyweight Exercises Here

Variations and Complementary Exercises

For those looking to build up their strength in order to eventually perform a Muscle Up, there are several variations, complementary, and alternative exercises available. These exercises can help you develop the necessary muscle strength and coordination in order to eventually perform the Muscle Up. Below are some of the most effective variations, complementary, and alternative exercises for the Muscle Up.

Narrow Parallel Grip Chin Up

Graphic image of Narrow Parallel Grip Chin Up.

The Narrow Parallel Grip Chin Up is a great exercise for those looking to build upper body strength. It is an excellent complementary or alternative exercise for the Muscle Up. This chin up variation is performed by gripping the bar with a narrow parallel grip, and then using your back, biceps, and core muscles to pull your chin above the bar. The exercise works your lats, traps, biceps, and core muscles all at the same time. It is especially beneficial for those looking to increase grip strength, as the narrow grip challenges your grip even more than a regular chin up. With regular practice and good form, this exercise can help you develop the strength you need to master the Muscle Up.

Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown

Graphic image of Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown.

Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown is a great alternative or complementary exercise to the Muscle Up. It targets the lats and can be used to increase strength and size in this muscle group. The neutral grip reduces stress on the wrists and shoulders while still providing an intense workout. This exercise can be used as a substitute for a Muscle Up when the athlete is not able to perform the full movement. It is also useful for those who want to focus on developing their lats without having to worry about their overall upper body strength.

Rear Pull Up

Graphic image of Rear Pull Up.

Rear Pull Up is an exercise that closely mimics the motion of a Muscle Up, while using a slightly different set of muscles. It can be used as a complementary exercise to help build the strength needed for a Muscle Up, or as an alternative exercise for those who are not quite ready for the more advanced movement. The Rear Pull Up targets the latissimus dorsi, teres major, and rhomboids, while also engaging the triceps and biceps. To perform the exercise, simply grip a bar with a wide grip and pull your body up until your chest touches the bar. This exercise helps to build upper body strength and stability, making it a great way to prepare for a Muscle Up.

Check Out These Top Bodyweight Exercises

Underhand Lat Pulldown

Graphic image of Underhand Lat Pulldown.

Underhand Lat Pulldown is an excellent complementary or alternative exercise to the Muscle Up. This exercise is done with a lat pulldown machine and requires the user to sit down and grab the bar with an underhand grip, allowing them to pull the weight down to their chest. This exercise targets the same muscles as the Muscle Up: lats, biceps, and core. However, the Underhand Lat Pulldown is a great option for those who are new to the exercise, since it does not require as much upper body strength as the Muscle Up. Additionally, this exercise can be used to isolate and strengthen the lats and biceps, which can help prepare the user for progressing to more advanced exercises such as the Muscle Up.

Wide Grip Pull Up

Graphic image of Wide Grip Pull Up.

Wide Grip Pull Up is an excellent complementary or alternative exercise for the exercise Muscle Up. It helps to target the same muscles and can help you to become stronger and more proficient at the Muscle Up exercise. Wide Grip Pull Ups involve gripping the pull up bar wider than shoulder width apart, and then pulling your body up until your chin is above the bar. This exercise engages your back, shoulders, arms, and core muscles, which are all important for mastering the Muscle Up. By doing this exercise regularly, you can build strength in the muscles needed for the Muscle Up, helping you achieve your fitness goals faster.

Barbell Decline Bent Arm Pullover

Graphic image of Barbell Decline Bent Arm Pullover.

The Barbell Decline Bent Arm Pullover is a great complementary or alternative exercise for the Muscle Up. This exercise focuses on the latissimus dorsi muscles and involves you lying down on a flat bench with a barbell over your chest, arms extended. From this position, you lower the barbell towards the floor behind your head, allowing your elbows to bend as you go. You then push the barbell back up to the starting position, extending your arms completely. This exercise is great for developing strength in the upper body and is a great way to supplement or replace the Muscle Up for those who find it difficult to do.

Find More Back Exercises Here

Opposing Complementary Exercises

To complement the exercise Muscle Up, it is important to work opposing muscle groups to help develop a balanced body. Below is a list of exercises that work the muscles that oppose those used in the Muscle Up. These exercises will help strengthen the stabilizing muscles and increase your range of motion.

Dumbbell Palms In Shoulder Press

Graphic image of Dumbbell Palms In Shoulder Press.

The Dumbbell Shoulder Press is a great complementary exercise to the Muscle Up as it targets the opposing muscle group. This exercise works the deltoid muscles, specifically the anterior deltoids, which are the primary muscle group used to pull oneself up in the Muscle Up. By doing this exercise, the individual can ensure that their deltoids are strong and can help them to complete a successful Muscle Up. Additionally, the Dumbbell Shoulder Press also works the triceps and traps, which can help to stabilize the body during the Muscle Up and provide more power when pushing off the ground.

Dumbbell Push Press

Graphic image of Dumbbell Push Press.

The Dumbbell Push Press is a great way to complement the Muscle Up exercise by targeting the opposing muscle group. This exercise involves pressing two dumbbells overhead while simultaneously pushing off the ground with the legs. This helps to strengthen the upper body muscles, such as the shoulders and triceps, while also engaging the core and lower body muscles. The Muscle Up works the same muscle groups, but in reverse order, so combining the two exercises helps to create a well-rounded workout that strengthens all of the major muscle groups.

Dumbbell W Press

Graphic image of Dumbbell W Press.

The Dumbbell W Press is a great complement to the Muscle Up exercise as it works the opposing muscle group. It works the chest and triceps muscles while the Muscle Up works the back and biceps muscles. This combination of exercises allows for a more balanced workout, which will help improve overall upper body strength. Furthermore, the Dumbbell W Press is great for improving overall posture and stability in the shoulders, as it requires one to maintain proper form throughout the movement.

Reach New Heights with Muscle Up Mastery

Muscle ups are an advanced exercise that require a combination of strength, coordination, and technique to perform correctly. If you are serious about mastering the muscle up, then you should be prepared to put in the hard work and effort required. Building a solid foundation of strength is crucial as you will need to have a good base level of strength to work from. It’s also important to focus on your technique and form. With consistent effort and dedication, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the muscle up and reaching new heights in your fitness journey.

References: Wikipedia | | | Comprehensive List of Back Bodyweight Exercises

Pin image for muscle up post. With an image of a man performing the exercise on Top and a graphic of the exercise on the Bottom.

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