In order to try muscle-ups I am trying to do High pull-ups but I can't take my body above the chest level.I can do up to 15 normal BW pull ups.

3 Answers 3


To start learning a muscle-up you need to know how to use momentum.

You need to start doing explosive pull-ups, to get the momentum upwards. You can also use your legs to create even more momentum, pull your legs up (knees towards your chest, or towards the pull-up bar) as you do an (explosive) pull-up. This way you'll get so high, you'll practically be doing a muscle-up already.

Once you become better and better at doing explosive pull-ups, you won't need to use your legs as much, so you'll be progressing into a perfect explosive pull-up and eventually a muscle-up.

If you have any questions about this feel free to ask them, I've been doing calisthenics for a few years.

  • So you basically mean to say that high pull-ups are not essential to learn in order to do muscle-ups?And even so,I would like to learn to do a clean high pull-up with proper control and almost straight arms like Cris Heria does: youtu.be/BZU2oy9L4DU
    – S.D
    Feb 12, 2018 at 8:00
  • @sagnikdas Chris Heria is one hell of a beast. What I'm saying is you can work towards a proper high pull-up by using your legs to get momentum to go up. This will get you up high where you want to be, so your body gets used to the movement. Once this becomes easier, you can use your legs less and less untill you do a proper high pull-up.
    – MJB
    Feb 12, 2018 at 8:22
  • @sagnikdas I did not mean to say that you don't need a high pull-up, I meant to say that when you do it the way I explained, you'll almost be doing the same thing as a muscle-up because you get so high above the bar :).
    – MJB
    Feb 12, 2018 at 8:23
  • Next time I'll try to do it with help of momentum,but I still doubt I can take the bar below chest level.I think this movement is weak for me compared to my pull ups movement strength.Do I need to perform some straight lat pulldown in the gym?
    – S.D
    Feb 12, 2018 at 13:46
  • @sagnikdas That depends, how many pull ups can you now do in 1 set? I think the goal should be that you can do atleast 6 to 8 reps of pull-ups for 3 to 4 sets. Once you can do this you should be strong enough to transition in to explosive pull-ups and high pull-ups. You don't need to do any lat pulldowns. I would rather suggest doing pull-ups with a resistance band.
    – MJB
    Feb 12, 2018 at 14:09

I would not suggest to use momentum first (i.e. kipping muscle-up). I would suggest to master strict muscle-up first then learn how to do kipping muscle-up.

If one does not have the structure to support strict muscle-up, kipping muscle-up could mess up his shoulders.

I would suggest working on eccentric muscle-up i.e. starting from the end of the muscle-up position (so above the bar) and trying to slow the descent. Chris Heria has such a video on youtube and it is apparently (youtube, reddit) quite efficient to build strict muscle-up. I am working on it right now using a smith machine to have a bar at the proper height.


Pigmie's "How to do a MUSCLE UP in only 5 Minutes". I know that you said you're looking to start with the high pull-ups, but if your stated goal is muscle-ups, why not advise you that direction?

I will first state that I am not an expert, and I have not learned to do this myself. However, I have gone through other tutorials by this fellow and he seems to be pretty good at breaking down the progression to provide a sense of progress as you go through (although, in my experience, he more or less assumes physical ability to easily do the exercise, just ignorance of technique).

Pre-requisites that he lists are the ability to do a chest pull-up and the ability to do a dip at the top of the bar. You stare you can do the first. Hopefully, you can also do the second.

  • 0-2:00: Swing slightly back and forth on the bar. As you're on the back-swing, and just about to lose your backwards momentum to swing forward, you do the chest pull-up, getting used to lifting yourself up and around the back of the bar.
  • 2:00-3:00: Practice releasing and returning your grip at the top of the pull-up, letting go of the bar and then grabbing again. Part of the muscle-up is rotating your grip forward, and releasing briefly for the switch is easier for most people.
  • 3:00-3:30: Practice doing the pull-up while swinging back, but with the letting go and grabbing the bar again at the top. This is just combining the prior two steps.
  • 3:30-4:30: Practice the eccentric muscle-up, climbing up to the straight-arm dip position, pushing off a bit to free your hands up to switch your grip, and then swinging down through the muscle-up motion going down in as controlled of a manner as you can.
  • 4:30-5:00: Try the complete movement, going from swinging backwards to pulling yourself up, letting go of the bar, regripping, and pushing up into the dip.

As I stated before, I think this guy tends to assume basic proficiency from the beginning and five minutes is a bit optimistic, assuming that you're already at the level of fitness where you'll be able to do all of the progression with no rests in-between and that each progressing will take the short amount of time he provides (he's provided a few videos showing him learning a new technique, figuring out the progression, and he seems to average around 20 minutes doing progression steps on-camera and I suspect he's got recovery breaks in-between). That said, he does do a good job of providing each progression step if you don't mind the little 15-20 second ads he does for his workout program. He also does a number of funny little vignettes with him playing multiple characters which started as another way to advertise his program and have since become something of their own.

  • Learning a muscle-up isn't as easy as 1 2 3. I'd suggest first learning to properly do pull-ups and dips before moving into the muscle-up. All you need to do by then is combine the two and learn the transition from one into the other.
    – MJB
    Feb 12, 2018 at 13:06

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