Learning the Muscle-Up

By Jason Khalipa

In Exercises, Videos

February 19, 2010

Video Article

Most CrossFitters know Jason Khalipa as the 2008 CrossFit Games champ or the owner of CrossFit Santa Clara—but he’s also an HQ trainer.

In this video, Jason puts the barbell down and teaches the muscle-up to an athlete named Ranbir, who’s just new to CrossFit but has the raw skills needed for the difficult movement. After taking Ranbir through a series of progressions, Khalipa gets the athlete on the rings for an attempt at his first muscle-up on his second day of CrossFit.

8min 10sec

Additional reading: The Muscle-Up by Greg Glassman, published Nov. 1, 2002.

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55 Comments on “Learning the Muscle-Up”


wrote …

Wow! Thanks for posting this. Really clearly, detailed instructions from Jason.


wrote …

Good coaching with a trainable athlete. Well done.


wrote …

That shirt is awesome!


wrote …

Outstanding instruction! Really liked the use of the box to simulate the proper hip drive. Well done.


wrote …

that was cool Jason, I was rooting for Ranbir on the second try. I was feeling the same tension, it was like go go come on you can do it yes!!
Excellent video.


wrote …

that TMNT shirt is sick!


wrote …

Great coaching. If you can get someone to do a muscle up in a day that's saying a lot about your coaching skills. What I was wondering though, and I don't know if his is true or not maybe I'm wrong, if you're taught to get strict pull ups before learning the kip why not teach getting a strict muscle up before learning to kip?


wrote …

The combonation of a great trainer, a trainable athlete and a bad ass shirt inevitably will lead to success.



wrote …

Being new to crossfit this was a great step-by-step video. Thanks Jason!



wrote …

Awesome Jason & Ranbir,
Geat progression!Thanks.
Can,t wait to celebrate my first MU.


wrote …

Fantastic help with understanding the mechanics! Thank You Jason.


replied to comment from Mohammad Mohammad

Great break down. I know Tyler Hass might agree with Mohammad that the safest way to do the pull up is strict form. But I am going to practice this video approach as well to get the transition down. That is my sticking point as well.


wrote …

This came at a great time as I'm trying to learn the muscle up on my own in the garage!
Thanks Jason, Thanks Crossfit


wrote …

Excellent coaching Jason, its funny this is on today got my first muscle up yesterday. I was close over in Belfast @ my level 1 cert but messed up my elbow so have tried for a while, but have been using similar progressions as these.


wrote …

What is up w/the guy in the background doing terrible box jumps? lol. Great instructions on the MU.


wrote …

I'm always impressed by Khalipa-great athlete and great coach.


wrote …

ha yea that dude in the background couldnt of tried any harder to be in the shot!!


wrote …



wrote …

The use of the box to emulate hip drive is a great idea-that is the missing link for some of the guys at our box-looking forward to applying this with them.


Getting through the transition point with strict muscle-ups is much more difficult than with kipping. By learning the kipping muscle-up first the athlete can over time develop the skill and the strength to maybe eventually be able to do it strictly.

Kipping wasn't on the menu when I learned to do muscle ups, but 30 years (and almost 30 pounds) later I'm happy for any help I can get! ;-)


Dane Thomas wrote …

Love the idea of the box to teach the hip and head drive!


wrote …

I have been teaching people how to do MUs out of my garage for about 4yrs now and I use the same idea as Jason used with the plyo-box. How ever if you dont have a box to use at home just lower the rings and put you feet on the floor in front of you. Just make sure that your rings are not so low that your butt touches the ground when you are in the extended position. In other words when you lean back keep you hips up. The mechanics stays the same but your closer to the ground.
When training MUs remember that the transition from pullup to dip puts a lot of strain in your shoulders and elbows so make sure that you have properly warmed up.


wrote …

Isn't that smile at the end what it's all about? Great instruction!


wrote …

Loved the box to help portray hip drive! Can't wait to apply this tool with my athletes - Thx Jason!


wrote …

Watch video. Break out old Power Ranger tee shirt. Go to rings and give it a go. Great instruction.


wrote …

Jason, as many have said, great instruction. What do you recommend for instruction on the "hand turn out" portion? Do you encourage your athletes to learn to hang with or without the turn out? Also, what drills do you associate with the movement to ensure a maintained strong false grip?


wrote …

I watched this video Friday night and yestrday had a kid come in to our box to ask about CF. I showed him th MU and used this exact same progression and he did a MU on his first try. Thanks Jason this is mcredible! I can't wait to use it to get all our members doing MU's


Jason Khalipa wrote …

Thank you very much everyone for your positive comments!

In response to comment 26:

I do not encourage the turn out when an individual initially attempts/gets their first muscle up. The reason for this is that they already have enough issues going on with attempting to learn the muscle up, the last thing they want is a starting position that is more challenging to hold a false grip.

With that said, overtime I will most definitely encourage the athlete to attempt a turn out at the bottom for full ROM. Initially though, achieving the muscle up movement is the primary goal, overtime I will get them full ROM without a question.

I encourage athletes to hang with a false grip and get comfortable with the unconfortableness of the false grip. We practice this often, it's really the only way. In addition, when an individual first is attempting the muscle up we will start them with a slight bend in the arm to help them maintain the false grip. Overtime we get those arms fully extended as mentioned before.


wrote …

Thanks Jason! I can not wait to apply this to my own efforts of getting my FIRST MU. Great job with explaining and demonstrating the movements.


wrote …

Great video, I'm going to go home and give these progressions a try today.

Watching the guy in the background doing those box jumps was painful. Stand up at the top!


wrote …

Great instructional video! Thanks a lot.
B.A. t-shirt too bro.


wrote …

Great Job Coach Jason and Ranbir!
Gettin' my set of rings today!

Jason and all the CF HQ coaches and trainers are the real deal.
Just did my level one cert at CrossFit Marina in HB, CA.

Go get your level one... it's worth it.



wrote …

Really good work here all around. Second day of CF and an MU, too--it took me two years to get an MU.

Lots of good content and excellent progressions here. Two cues I use that help me are keeping my hands close and looking at them throughout the bottom piece of the MU. This helps me drive my head and shoulders through the hole.

You might also consider teaching the end of the movements first, so that the athletes know where they are heading. I got that from the great American ski mountaineer Bill Briggs. Google him if you want to know about extreme athletes and visionary accomplishments.

Last suggestion: less talking, more doing by the athlete. Show a small piece, do it, show another, start linking them together. Why? Accomplish more in less time. Words load people with a lot of extra meaning they don't need. And, athletes especially, must do the action to learn it.


wrote …

I plan on watching this video everyday until I get my first muscle up. Awesome video.


wrote …

Awesome video.

By far the best breakdown of the muscle up I've seen to date.

I've yet to do a muscle up myself and after watching this tutorial I can't wait to pound one out.

Think I'll be taking the rings to the gym tonight!!

Again, great vid Jason.....not only are you an outstanding athlete but obviously a great teacher as well.


Frank DiMeo wrote …

Great coaching, thanks!


Rob Davis wrote …

Fantastic and simple progression! Great Vid...way to go!


replied to comment from Brad Downton

As an update, just wanted to let you know:

Went to the gym with my rings last night and worked through Jason's progression and used his coaching tips. End result, did my first muscle ups ever!! Couldn't keep the false grip after (to complete multiple reps), but did about 5 muscle ups, and didn't miss one once I got the hang of it (no pun intended).

Thanks a whole bunch Jason!! I'm stoked!!



wrote …

Thanks Jason!!! I have been working on my musscle up for about 6 months and was just so close and not making any progress following the progressions in other videos. Once I watched this video and used the techniques to improve my coordination(coincidentally one of the ten general physical skills) I was able to fire out my first muscle up and then do about 15 more with relative ease. I Think that all those muscle ups kept me from PRing my shoulder press during the CF total WOD yesterday but I was pretty excited about the muscle up. I love crossfit at 37 years old I am stronger and can do more than I could in my twenties.


Jason Khalipa wrote …

Great to hear all of the positive feedback! I am extremely happy that several of you were able to get your first muscle up.




wrote …

Jason, like Colin wrote, I was working in my MU for about two months, follow you instructions I did my first MU. Great instructional video, Thanks a lot.
You are the best!!!!


wrote …

That's sweet. I also can't wait to celebrate my first MU with.... MORE MU's!!


wrote …

Thanks Jason,
Watched the video. Went to the gym and got my first muscle up today. I did 15 of them and even doubled up on a few. I had been working on muscle ups for months and just couldn't get is. I think the key for me was to see the violence of the pull and the head drive keyed on in the instruction. Thanks again.
34/ 5'8" 168


wrote …

Just wanted to say thanks Jason! I as well got my first muscle up the day after watching this tutorial, it was great and I love your enthsuiasm.



wrote …

Great Video!!! I got my first Muscle Up this morning.


wrote …

First Muscle Up yesterday. So Stoked. I spent three days after my regular workout doing a little prep work. I did 3 sets of 10 strict ring pull-ups, 3 sets of 5 ring dips with toes on box, 3 sets of 5 muscle up kips with feet on box (as in video), and 3 sets of 5 muscle up kips with feet on box and finishing with head pulled through to bottom of dip (as in video). I rested for a day and then came back to the rings. First try I popped right up with a strong kip and found myself on top of the rings. With an easy push out of the bottom position I had completed my first muscle up. I could not believe how easy it actually was. Today I will see how many I can do in a row.

Thanks for the awesome video that finally made it work for me.


wrote …

Dude, thank you for this video.


wrote …

THANK YOU for this video!! I got my first muscle up today! Been trying for almost a year (off and on). The band-assisted methods came out a bit too late for me, as I already had the strength, just couldn't connect the pieces. The plyo-box drill was a great way for me to understand the necessary hip movement needed to get through the transition. Great instruction! Thanks again!


wrote …

This is a great video. Thanks for this - I'm going to try these steps when I get a chance... you guys break it down into simple steps -- something our coaches should work on better.


wrote …

This is a great video. Thanks for this - I'm going to try these steps when I get a chance... you guys break it down into simple steps -- something our coaches should work on better.


wrote …

This is a great video. Thanks for this - I'm going to try these steps when I get a chance... you guys break it down into simple steps -- something our coaches should work on better.


wrote …

Jason, bought my first set of rings and hung them up in the garage. First night tried to do a MU couldn't do it. Watched the video and did my first one on the 4th attempt. Thanks for the great coaching!!!


wrote …

Just wanted to say thanks. I am crossfitting on my own for about 1 month and bought a set of rings a couple of weeks ago. I had been working dips and pull ups from the rings and decided to begin training the muscle up yesterday. I videoed my first attempt and failed but compared the footage to your instruction. Next attempt kept elbows in on the pull and got it. Did four without failing.


wrote …

Thanx, useful vid. Great and clear coaching!


wrote …

I have been watching MU videos all morning and this is my FAVORITE!!!

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