A full pullup -- or muscle-up-- is an extremely advanced upper-body exercise that uses almost all of the muscles of your upper body. While regular pullups are hard enough for most ladies, some all stars take it a step further by pressing their bodies up over the bar afterward. Essentially, a muscle-up combines an overhand pullup with the upward phase of a tricep dip. Originally a gymnastics move done on the hanging rings, full pullups have been adapted to a pullup bar so you can do them during your next circuit workout or sweat session. If you’re a lady who knows her way around a gym, give this beast of an exercise a run for its money.
Start the exercise as if you are going to do a regular pullup. Grip a pullup bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart and palms facing away from you. Hang freely before going into the upward phase.
Exhale as you point your elbows toward the floor and raise your body until your chin and chest are clear over the bar. For a successful muscle-up, it is crucial to avoid leaning backward as you pull up. If your chest and body swing underneath the bar, this exercise will not work. Imagine you are pulling the bar straight down in front of you as if you are standing and the bar is attached to pulley on the ceiling. At the top part of this phase, the bar should cross past your chest, and your elbows should be pointed down and back while being slightly flared away from your torso.
Quickly lean your chest forward over the bar as you kick and swing your legs back for momentum. Once your whole body is angled toward the bar, start to straighten your elbows to push your body up. This entire step must happen very quickly -- like a mid-air kip.
Finish extending your arms as your body falls into a vertical position. Take a second to notice the crowd that is probably watching your wondrous self by now.
Avoid letting yourself just fall back down to the starting position. Keep as much control as you can and lower yourself safely.
- If you can’t quite do this exercise, build up to it by working on each of the two parts separately before trying to string them together. Do unassisted pullups and dips several times a week to develop the necessary strength in all of your upper-body muscles. To help you understand the motion, give kip pullups a try. Kip pullups are primarily the starting pullup motion, but without finishing into an upward tricep press. Ask a knowledgeable fitness professional about correct kip pullup form.
- This is not an exercise for the beginner or the faint of heart. Do not try this highly advanced exercise unless you have participated in regular, vigorous strength training for years. If you want to get an effective upper-body workout, ask a fitness professional for exercise alternatives appropriate to your fitness level.
Jilana Dennis is a health and fitness writer based out of San Antonio, Texas. Dennis is a nationally certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise and holds a B.S in exercise science from Illinois State University.