Muscle Up-Day One Workout

It was a typical Sunday morning for your any near 50 year old….

muscle up

I woke up with the usual Sunday morning itch to do something challenging.  I thought about it all night. I decided it was time to learn the muscle up.

I’ve never seen anyone do a muscle up in person and because I’m stubborn, I decided NOT to look on YouTube or get any instruction from anyone. Oh boy, I know that sounds ox-like….

This is how I got it in my head. I imagined the move and thought about the movement pattern of what would have to happen to get me to the top of the bar. I can’t really put it into words. (I taught myself to drive a standard car this way – in my imagination that is. The person trying to teach me thought that it’d be helpful  if they just yelled instructions when at first I didn’t understand  them. Being stubborn as I am, I gave up on the loud-mouthed instructor and ‘slept on’ how to drive a standard.  I went through the motions in my head so I’d develop the movement pattern of gas, clutch, brake, steer etc. The next day I took the car out by myself and did fine.)

I knew there would be a learning curve to figuring the muscle up-move out. I knew that taking good advantage of momentum would be key. The term ‘muscle up’ implies a lotta muscle, but I figured a bit of finesse would come in handy too.  I grabbed some resistance bands and decided to give it a go.

First problem: I was going to bash my head into the ceiling of my gym.

Hmm…not good.

I decided to use my squat rack versus the pull up bar. I lowered the bar just enough so my head wouldn’t hit the ceiling, even though my feet could touch down. I added 200+ lbs to the bar so it wouldn’t move.

Safety first, I figured there were plenty of ways to hurt myself, I’d guard against the obvious.

I’m no Cirque de Soliel performer. Grace seems to elude me, but darn it, I got on top of the bar. I experimented with the bands, using them on my knees and feet. The band around the knees was a no go since I needed more momentum from the hip.

Here’s a video as to how I figured out step one…

Here’s the workout I put together using the beginner muscle up move, I did 45 seconds of work with a 10 second transition:

  • assisted muscle up (I only got about 5)
  • battling rope or jump rope
  • kipping pull up
  • handstand (active recovery – I know it sounds weird, but I like to do this to increase shoulder/tricep/core stability and just for fun 😉
  • DB row weak
  • DB row strong arm

I repeated this three times. Super fun 🙂



How’s your pull up power? You definitely need to be able to do a pull up before you can move to the muscle up, even an assisted muscle up. The fun begins once you’ve got the pull up under your belt.

Let me help, if you don’t have my program, that’s the first step. Click HERE to see if it’s right for you.