The muscle-up doesn’t have to be some mystical beast tamable only by the elite. Anyone can learn and perform muscle-ups using progressions and scaling. In this video series, learn how HQ trainer Pat Sherwood coaches his athletes through the gymnastics movement.
In Part 1, Sherwood takes it from the top, starting with a demo from one of the athletes who can perform a dead-hang muscle-up. Then he breaks it down: “There’s nothing more than a couple of pull-ups and a couple of dips and some technique in the middle.”
The first progression is a ring dip with a spotter to see proficiency. From here, Sherwood says he is able to separate the group into those who will ultimately get to the high rings and those who need to practice more on the low rings.
The second progression is learning the pull-up portion of the movement. First, he teaches the false grip. Once the athletes understand the grip, he makes the distinction that the pull-up for the muscle-up is “a much deeper pull down to the sternum.” He emphasizes that you need to get your body higher than it is even in a chest-to-bar pull-up. Finally, he drills the tight “inside-elbow” position.
To teach the muscle-up successfully, coaches need to take precautions to avoid injuring athletes attempting this shoulder-intensive movement for the first time.
“I don’t want to add velocity to something I can’t do slowly,” Sherwood says.
Additional reading: The Moves by Greg Glassman, published April 1, 2004.