muscle up

The Supermove Series: Muscle-Up

This 5-move routine will help you clear the bar.

Muscle-ups are arguably the most brag-worthy move you can do in the gym.“Saying you can do it is a big deal,” says Brian Robbins, a Tier 3 trainer at Equinox Darien in Connecticut. “It’s a great thing to have on your fitness resume.”

The exercise requires you to move your body in two distinctly difficult ways: You have to pull yourself up to the bar and then push yourself over it.

First, the pull-up phase: It hones the lats, biceps, glutes, and deep-lying core muscles including the transverse abdominis and spinal erectors, Robbins says. Since the muscle-up doesn’t end once your chest reaches the bar, you need to be able to forcefully pull yourself toward it with enough momentum to complete phase two: the push. Here, you use your delts, traps, and triceps (while keeping the core and lower body engaged) to extend your shoulders and elbows until your torso is over the bar.

To master the muscle-up, Robbins suggests reverse-engineering it, working the muscles and movement patterns that, when strengthened, will help you clear the bar.

The exercises in the slideshow below do exactly that. Complete the routine two to three times per week on nonconsecutive days. Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps of one exercise before moving on to the next. Rest for 90 seconds between sets.

“Take it to fatigue, not failure, and don’t be afraid to use assisted pull-up machines or adjust angles to make these moves less intense,” he says. Note: The last three moves are variations of one another, ranging from beginner to advanced. Choose the one that best fits your ability level.

If performing 12 reps of these exercises feels easy, strap on a weighted vest or belt—or give your first muscle-up a try.