Sunday 6.10.12


Armando got his first muscle ups the other day and joined the Muscle Up Club.  Congrats!  Many of you are right there to getting your muscle up. So those of you who are close, here is a great article I had laying around to help you get serious about the muscle up in a 3-week progression.

The Muscle-Up (From Power Athletes Magazine, Issue 5, 2003)
     by Tyler Hass

What if I told you that there was one upper body exercise that reigned supreme? You have probably heard that one before. But it's true, there is an exercise that does it all. Try and guess what it is: the pull-up or the dip? Wrong, it's both. A muscle-up is a pull-up immediately followed by a dip. It includes a difficult transition between the two that makes this exercise greater than the sum of its parts. Is it functional? You bet. The muscle-up is pure climbing for Tarzan strength. Can you imagine the king of the jungle training with lat pulldowns and tricep pushdowns? No way, leave the "toning and shaping" for Jane.

The Muscle-Up is truly a hidden gem. You sometimes hear of them, but you rarely hear about people doing them. Why is this? First, the mainstream fitness crowd does not like to be challenged. The muscle-up requires patience and dedication to master. Second, they require rings (note: they can be performed on high bar, but it's a bit different and harder) and rings have not been a part of the mainstream training community since the early 1900's. Back then, gymnastics was not just for kids and professionals. In fact, the old training gyms of the past looked like gymnastics facilities with weights.

New York Sports Club, 1927, with four sets of rings hanging in the far background. Several kettlebells are in the foreground.
In the past few years though, the muscle-up has come back in a big way. Training programs such as CrossFit make regular use of the muscle-up. According to the CrossFit Journal, written by Greg Glassman, "The muscle-up is astonishingly difficult to perform, unrivaled in building upper body strength, a critical survival skill, and most amazingly of all, virtually unknown." In fact, the muscle-up is so important to the CrossFit program that they have a muscle-up club. To join the club, you must distinguish yourself by performing an unassisted muscle-up. It is not as easy as it sounds, but it is attainable for just about anyone. The general recommendation is that you should be able to do 15 pull-ups and 15 dips before you begin practicing the muscle-up. If your technique is solid you can get by with less, but it is hard to learn the technique without the strength.

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