Global Bodyweight Training
The Band-Assisted Muscle-Up is a great step in progressing toward your Non-Kipping Muscle-Up
The Band-Assisted Muscle-Up is the next step in our Muscle-Up tutorial series, where we’re working toward achieving the incredibly challenging and super-impressive Slow Muscle-Up. Our ultimate goal with the traditional Muscle-Up is to get to the point where you can perform the exercise slowly, without requiring any momentum. Practicing with the Assistance Bands can get you that much closer to the final version, helping in several ways. For the novice exerciser, the Assistance Band can provide support as they learn how to get used to transitioning from the “pull” to the “push” phase of the Muscle-Up. For someone who has already mastered the Kipping Muscle-Up, the Assistance Band can help them advance to the more difficult Non-Kipping Muscle-Up. If you’d like to catch up on the first parts of this series, covering the lead-up exercises to the Kipping Muscle-Up, you can find it all here.

We use Assistance Bands all of the time at the GBT gym in order to teach more advanced BW moves, and the Band-Assisted (non-kipping) Muscle-Up is a perfect example. Once the student has gone through all of the lead up exercises and is now proficient at the Kipping Muscle Up, it’s time to challenge them to stop using their legs as assistance. By using the Assistance Band, they can train the correct pattern biomechanically while only taking a limited percentage of their bodyweight. We can then progress to lighter bands until we no longer need any assistance at all. As you know from all my previous posts, I believe that form is everything in bodyweight training (and all fitness for that matter), so I love being able to use bands to make sure complex new movements are learned correctly from the beginning.

Using the Stretch Reflex

Global Bodyweight Training - Mike Fitch
The assistance band helps you create even more elastic energy in the "pre-stretch" component of the muscle-up
As I mentioned above, our ultimate goal with the Muscle-Up is to perform a slow Muscle-Up, which requires a tremendous amount of strength and proper timing. With the band-assisted version, we are getting close to that, but are still using a bit of momentum which relies heavily on the “stretch reflex” of the muscles involved. This stretch reflex is a component of a plyometric movement, where force is generated by a quick lengthening of the muscles, followed immediately by a quick and powerful contraction. In the video, you’ll see that I step off of a box to achieve the “pre-stretch”. The bands, of course, further increase the amount of elastic energy created with this pre-stretch movement. This can also be achieved by just stepping forward and extending the entire body at roughly a 45 degree angle (without letting the toes touch the ground). Each rep should start and end here.

The Pull to Push Transition

Global Bodyweight Training
With the Non-Kipping Muscle-Up, the goal is to use your own strength, rather than momentum from kicking your legs, to get over the bar
Global Bodyweight Training
The transfer from push-to-pull uses the same muscles whether you are using the Assistance Bands or not.
From the pre-stretch position, while keeping the entire body tight and rigid, look up at the bar, and forcefully pull with the upper body. As you begin to travel upward, maintain some space between your body and the bar. Maintaining this space helps you move your body in the necessary arc around the bar. Your hands should begin to rotate around the bar as your chest rises above it. As soon as the lower chest travels above bar line, rotate the elbows upward and pull your upper torso over and forward. From here, simply extend through the elbows and push the body up as if you’re getting out of a pool. Once you are stable here, drop back down to the starting “pre stretch” position. Note that the muscles you are using to pull yourself around and over the bar are the same as with the Kipping Muscle-Up, except that you are relying less on the momentum from kicking your legs to execute the movement.

Once you can achieve 8-10 reps with perfect form, you may want to try using a lighter band. Eventually you will need no band at all!

This movement does require the hands to rotate around the bar, so if you are not used to doing a lot of bar work, your hands may become raw or damaged. In this case, I would recommend using a pair of genuine leather baseball batting gloves. Out of all of the gloves I’ve experimented with, they seem to work the best. You can later ditch the gloves as your technique improves – that’s really up to you.

This is a great exercise and I guarantee you’re going to love it. Check out this video on how to do it, and keep an eye out this year for our full length video on using assistance bands for advanced bodyweight training! (See more below the video about choosing a band, and to catch up on the previous chapters in this series).



Global Bodyweight Training
The width and length of the band will determine how much assistance it provides

Choosing A Band

When choosing a band, the width and length will vary depending on how much you weight and much assistance you need. In the video I’m using a 1 ¾” wide, 41” long band, which is a fairly standard size. You’ll probably want a set of several sizes so that you can decrease the level as you progress. Make sure there are no tears or blemishes in the band. If the band is starting to peel, that can be indicator that it is weakening and could snap. Be sure that the object or bar is smooth and doesn’t have any sharp edges or rust that may ruin the integrity of the band. If the support structure is rough, you may want to place a towel over it before placing the band.

You can find these types of bands sold as “resistance training bands” at some on-line sites. These Resistance Training Bands are similar to the ones I use. We’ll also be coming out with our own line of bands when we release our full length video later this year.

More About Muscle-Ups:

Want to start with, or just review, the Kipping Muscle-Up? Check out my four-part series with lead-up exercises that help you build the specific muscles and techniques you’ll need to achieve and then perfect your Kipping Muscle-Up:

Or, check out just one of the
sections you’d like to brush up on:


Published by Mike Fitch

Mike is the founder of Global Bodyweight Training. He has more than 12 years as a fitness professional encompassing a wide range of disciplines which he draws upon to create the GBT system.

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8 Comments

  1. Fantastic tutorial! You’ve really broken it down very well and made it naturally progressive and easy to follow and understand. Well produced video too with the slow motion and freeze-frame segments. Bravo!

  2. Mike,

    This is an excellent article! I actually just came across your kipping muscle up tutorial series yesterday, as this is a move I’ve decided to work towards. I’ve been working on my pull ups and straight bar dips in preparation for this, but I am not quite there yet. Unfortunately, I think I’ve been overtraining lately as I’ve felt much weaker doing exercises that I usually don’t have as much problem with. I do a maintenance workout at work 5 nights a week (right now it’s 3 sets of 6~12 pull ups [trying to bring bar to chest], 10~15 straight bar dips, 8~15 Lalanne push ups, and 6 shrimp squats on each leg), so I’ll probably just do that and just skip my regular scheduled workouts at home for about a week or so.

    I listened to your interview with Al Kavadlo about his new book Raising the Bar, and I actually just purchased both of his books. Truly excellent material. I’ve seen some of your older stuff, and to me it seems like you’ve seriously stepped up your game since around the time you’ve met Al. Is this a fair observation? He’s a very inspiring man in terms of both watching him do his thing and also getting motivation from him.

    It’s great to see guys like you and Al really getting the word out with such a positive and helpful attitude. I think the late greats like Jasper Benincasa and Jack Lalanne would be very proud of what you guys are doing.

    1. Hey Robby, thanks for the great comment! First of all, if you feel like you are over training, then you probably are. Remember, we make the most progress when we rest, not when we are working. You need to be careful not to do the same workout each night. Typically you want to have at least one day between working the same muscles, groups or patterns.
      Thanks for the kind words. As far as my own progression goes, I’ve been trying to step up my game since I started, and always strive towards improving my practice each day. I’ve made some great personal progress over the past two years (since I started bodyweight training) and hope to continue to grow every week, month, year, etc.
      Keep me updated on your own progress my friend!

      1. Hey Mike,

        I am proud to say that I got the slow ring muscle up about a month ago. I still found it bothersome on the elbows, so I was doing the exercise cautiously until about a week or two ago when I decided to focus primarily on one arm chin up work. I would occasionally do ring muscle ups in these workouts, but never felt comfortable doing more than 4 in one set. Well, the other night I decided to give the slow bar muscle up a try. I didn’t expect success but when I got stuck at the transition I just focused on flexing my upper back and shoulders and the next thing I knew I was in the bottom of the dip! I was elated! Although I haven’t been able to do another one yet haha. I have one of those free standing towers so a ripping muscle up is impossible since it makes the bar wobble too much and could possibly cause the tower to fall over…but that’s ok because I think the slow muscle ups are better anyway.

        1. Nice work Robby! That’s awesome man. The slow Muscle is the ultimate goal, especially for strength. The kipping Muscle Up can still be a great tool for explosive strength. Keep it up my friend and good luck with the single arm pulls!

  3. Dude, thanks for the great instructional! This is a very difficult move to master. I know because I have been trying for a long time to get it! With your instruction, I think I will be able to now! You give away great info for free where others charge money for it. Your followers appreciate this. I look foward to supporting you and your website in the future. Down the road, maybe you could teach us how to do a planche pushup. Anouther tough one!

    1. Hey Charles, thanks so much for the great comments. Let me know how your progress goes on the Muscle Up!

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