Muscle-up Training Tutorial: The Missing Workout Manual for Your First Bar Muscle-up

A muscle up training tutorial has always been something that I couldn’t find online. At least not something that would finally teach me how to do a proper bar muscle up. So finally this summer I got serious about training the muscle-up, among a few other exercises. This article is the result of my experience.

So the question is: why should you bother with the muscle up? Well, it is a complete upper body in itself – the only thing you need is a bar. Getting good at the muscle up will give you an awesome physique. I am convinced that the men with the best upper bodies are the ones that are freaky strong at bar or gymnastic type training.

Besides, mastering this bad boy is plain old fun. Fact is, very few people who workout will come close to doing the muscle up. It’s a shame really.

Here is a video we shot recently showing the muscle up and some tips. I had to do it on a soccer goal cause the pull-up bar was drowned by a recent rain storm. This made it more challenging, but the cool thing is that you get to see the exaggerated swing forward and the timing.

So What Exactly is the Muscle-Up

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The Sequential Muscle-up: A Missing Link in Your Muscle-up Training?

The sequential muscle-up is an important stepping stone towards achieving a true muscle up. Most people training in gyms nowadays have difficulty doing pull-ups, let alone muscle ups. If you are reading this site however, this is soon going to change for you. If you haven’t read it yet, you may want to start with the article on the sternum pull-up.

There are several reasons why I’m writing a tutorial for this exercise. The cool thing about the sequential muscle-up is that it builds confidence quickly – a thing that is needed when trying to achieve goals that seem “impossible,” such as the real muscle-up. The move also builds strength needed for the transition phase in the real exercise.

Here is a video we shot of the sequential muscle-up. You can clearly follow the three major phases: 1. pull-up, 2. shift of the weight and rotation of the free arm, another shift of the weight with rotation of the first arm.

Note: it is essential to train both sides in this movement – although the video doesn’t show this. As soon as you are able to do the move with the weaker arm (most people have a weaker arm), start practicing it this way.

Speaking of sequences, I chose this completely unrelated photo of a beautiful girl doing the moonwalk on a sandy hill at the beach. I’ve been into haiku lately and found this Basho haiku poem to fit quite nicely with the photo.

I recently finished the last level of my German language classes and was browsing in the German section of a bookstore when I stumbled on this book of haiku poetry translated in German. I was shocked that the translations were so good. Anyway – back to the sequential muscle-up.

So What Exactly is the Sequential Muscle-up

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Sternum Pull-ups Will Make You Explosive and Prepare You for the Muscle-Up

I first heard of the usefulness of sternum pull-ups towards improving muscle-up performance from my colleague Milko Georgiev, Bulgaria’s top conditioning coach. Here is a video I shot a few years back of him doing 9 muscle-ups with great form.

Prior to that, I had read an article by Charles Poliquin mentioning this exercise. Poliquin himself was inspired by the great Vince Gironda if I recall correctly. However I never found a comprehensive guide on doing the sternum pull-up, much less on using it to work towards muscle-ups. So this article is a first in a series that will help you do your first muscle-up.

Above you can watch a video I shot demonstrating the basic sternum pull-up. Again, the three keys to the move are using your back, exploding and pulling the elbows back once the upper arms reach parallel.

What is the Sternum Pull-up

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Push-up Strength Training: A Guide to Using the Hip Push-up for More Muscular Density and Definition

Push-up strength training? How can the hip push-up help with in your training? In order to train for strength, we need to achieve great muscular tension. In other words the muscles need to contract very hard. The traditional pushup can be used for this purpose, but once you pass a couple months of training, pushups become too easy.

Here is the video on how to use the hip push-up for strength training. Remember to stay tight, lean forward as far as you can, then pick a spot on the ground and watch it to make sure you only go up and down.

So to use them for strength training you need to do them to failure – the last few reps produce enough tension. But there is an easier way. A modified push up, such as the hip pushup which will be described in this article, is substantially harder and can be used for strength training even by more experienced athletes.

The cool thing is that the hip push up can be done anywhere, and will strengthen your wrists and fists. Last but not least – it is great way to work towards a planche push-up, where you support a hundred percent of your bodyweight.

Athletes such as gymnasts and b-boys like the guy above have a ridiculous strength to body weight ratio. Their great relative strength allows them to perform amazing moves. The hip push-up will help you increase your upper body relative strength.

So What Exactly Is the Hip Push-up

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Pushup Fitness Tests… Or How I Schooled The Competition and You Can Too

Pushup fitness tests and competitions are a great way to measure your upper body relative strength, not to mention that they are plain fun! A few years ago at our gym we had an athletic competition with all kinds of disciplines – pull-ups for reps, weighted pull-ups, sprints, long jumps and so on. The push-up fitness test was one of the disciplines.

People from all over Bulgaria were invited to join the competition. Many enthusiasts came – some were professional athletes, others were just fitness buffs or amateur bodybuilders. The competitors from our gym won most of the disciplines as well as the overall title.

I was the winner of the pushup contest, even though I wasn’t the strongest or most athletic one.  In this article I will share my secrets to pushup greatness. Here is a video we shot showing the first two push-up positions that you can use in your training. You can also see the elbows out push-up. Again – avoid this one.

Here is Why the Push-up is a Great Exercise

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Using the Lat Pull Down Machine to Get Strong for Your First Pull-up

The lat pull down machine is a great way for beginners and intermediate people to learn how to use their back muscles properly so that once sufficient strength is acquired, pull-ups and chin-ups can be performed with proper form. In my experience using the lat pull down machine is the fastest way to teach proper technique transition to make pull-ups quickly.

Here is a video we shot of the lat pull down in use. The cool thing about this particular machine is that the weight that you lift corresponds to the real force you exert. Sometimes machines use complicated pulley systems that actually halve the weight being lifted. This is not the case here.

Why the Lat Pull Down Machine?

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Wrist Roller – The Best Exercise For Increasing Forearm Strength


Wrist roller article with a picture of Bruce Lee? It’s not a coincidence. Besides being an overall health and fitness and martial arts fanatic, he put priority in training his abs and his forearms. The reason for this was that in martial arts power originates in the core or stomach muscles, but is transmitted through the hands.

Bruce Lee was not a “fitness freak” just for the sake of it. He had a definite major purpose –an idea he got from Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich. His supreme physical shape is a manifestation of his pursuit of excellence in order to achieve the life he wanted for himself and his family. He actually achieved his dream goal of being the biggest Chinese Star in the world.

The Wrist Roller – Fantastic for Forearm Strength

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How to Increase Biceps Strength without Biceps Curls

Biceps strength can be greatly increased with any pull-up & chin-up workout when you are a beginner. Problem is, the better you get at pull-ups, the more you learn to engage your back – pull with the lats or armpit muscles. This is great because you will develop a great looking v-shaped body. However your biceps strength will reach a plateau because your arms will get less and less stimulation.

One solution is to start heavily relying on direct arm training with barbell and dumbbell curls. Although this is a great approach, there is yet another way to train with a compound exercise for greater biceps strength. Compound moves allow for a more natural loading of the muscles.

Here is a video we shot in the backyard of a nearby school of the mix grip chin-up. Notice how I am leaning towards the under grip arm and trying to pull with this side of my back. Don’t just pull yourself up. Instead use the muscles of the under grip side of the body.

Enter The Mix Grip Chin Up

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Lower Ab Workouts – A Waste of Time?

Ab Muscle diagram

Lower ab workouts are often the subject of infomercials trying to sell you fat burning gizmos such as the Self Electrocution Belt ™ and the Low Back Killer Swing™. On a more serious note, what we often see on TV in those commercial breaks is a successful attempt to give people what they want.

We want to burn the fat around our bellies. We want it easy and we want it fast. So the marketing geniuses brainstorm and come up with an idea that *seems* to work the lower ab region. Then they get sweaty and fit fitness models to demonstrate the gadget and flex their six pack abs – and this is where the scam happens.

The Lower Six Pack Abs Myth

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Pull-up Exercise Variations: 6 Essential Exercises for a V-Shaped Body (Video)

The pull-up – an exercise that is possibly the most efficient in developing the back muscles for a v-shaped body. My fascination with chin-ups & pull-ups began when I was around 10 or so. There is a playground close to where I live and I would see the older boys train there, yet I couldn’t do a single chin-up.

Even worse, on my first PT test as high school fresh man I still couldn’t do a single pull-up or chin-up. This was one of the reasons I started working out (managed 10+ chin-ups at the end of that freshman year). This, and the goal of getting a v-shaped back.

On a side note – Tony Jaa, pictured above, is an excellent example of an athlete with a great v-shaped body. He has a very wall percentage of body fat which accentuates the small waist. At the same time his back, the latissimus dorsi is very developed and creates the appealing v-shape.

Tony is a martial artist, stuntman and actor from Thailand who has starred in a few explosive action movies already. If you are going to see a film with him – check out Ong Bak. My friend Rusty Moore has gone into great detail in his article about him ==> Is Tony Jaa the Next Bruce Lee?

1. Close Grip Chin-Up

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Handstand Pushups: How To Make Them Easier And Get Super Hero Shoulders In The Process (Video)

The reason I’m writing about handstand pushups is that recently I’ve been strapped for time and needed to find creative and fast ways to train. So I’ve been doing a two-part routine for my upper body along with some pick-up basketball for my legs and overall conditioning. The routine is really simple and saves me tons of time because I don’t need to go to the gym. Here is what I do.

I train with handstand pushups and dumbbells at home and do various pull-ups, chin-ups and dips at the playground in front of my building when I’m walking my lab Lucky in the evening.

Speaking of super hero shoulders, this weekend we went to see the new Prince of Persia movie. Jake Gyllenhaal really trained his ass off for the role and got into amazing shape. Actors tend to do two things for roles like these – they get to a really low body fat percentage and get very developed shoulders. Anyway – the movie was fun – I was afraid I would be disappointed because of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, but luckily I was wrong.

Here is a video we shot at the terrace of our gym of the handstand pushup. There were two trainer chicks who were peeking from the door to see what the hell the crazy Yavor was up to lol. Watch and note the four simple steps for learning the exercise.

What Is The Handstand Pushup?

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7 Easy Ways To Add Resistance To Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups And Dips

Pull-ups, chin-ups and dips are among the best exercises you can ever do. The reason for this is that because you are using your bodyweight, you cannot gain excessive weight and body fat while building strength. You can only get good at chin-ups, pull-ups and dips by increasing your relative strength – the ratio between your bodyweight and your strength level.

The cool thing is that by doing this you are simultaneously improving your looks. As I wrote in a an earlier post, the way to get a great body is to get strong and keep the bodyweight down so the waist stays small and the shoulder area gets bigger.

Plus, for both guys and girls, a chin-ups, pull-ups and dips work the muscles of the upper body in such a way that they create an athletic look – improving the waist to shoulder ratio for men and hips to waist to shoulder ratio for women. So here are the top 7 ways you can use to add resistance to pull-ups, chin-ups and dips.

1. Put A Dumbbell Between Your Feet

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4 Dangerous Mistakes People Make With The Full Contact Twist

In the last post I introduced to you the full contact twist and shared a couple of tips on technique and proper form. In this post I want to point out a few mistakes that I’ve seen people make when I teach them the full contact twist. Mistakes are a normal part of the learning process but it is important to learn a safe and effective technique for each exercise.

We don’t want to hurt ourselves. What follows is a selection of videos I found online with people demonstrating the drill. If one of these videos is yours, apologies for using it as a *bad example* – I only want to help people get strong and stay safe.

Mistake #1 – Extending The Arms

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