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10 Steps to Master the Power Up (AKA Muscle Up)

The Power Up (aka the “Muscle Up”) is an advanced climbing technique that is is one of the most difficult and rewarding challenges in the MovNat curriculum.* Many people struggle with this movement, including very fit athletes, not only because it requires a relatively high degree of conditioning, but significant skill as well. But with proper training and the right progressions, many people can work up to this complex movement.

Apart from the practical benefit of being able to rapidly climb on top of a horizontal surface (e.g. tree branch, pull-up bar, fence, cliff, etc.), the Power Up also delivers many physiological benefits when it is performed properly. By practicing this movement and the many progressions leading up to it, you can expect significant improvements to your strength and conditioning, particularly in the muscles of the arms, shoulders, back, and core. But remember, when done correctly and efficiently, the Power Up is actually a full body movement which requires not only strength and power (particularly pushing/pulling power and core strength), but also coordination (e.g. sequence & timing), the proper use of tension and relaxation, and mindfulness.

We designed the following 10-step plan to help you learn the key technical components of the movement, but also so you can safely and progressively develop the specific conditioning required for this technique.

Progressions

  1. Assisted Squat Get Ups – 5 easy reps
  2. Dead Hang – 30 seconds
  3. Horizontal Foot Pinch – feet to surface 2x
  4. Pull Up (Negative Only) – 5 slow reps
  5. Pull Ups – 5 easy reps
  6. Explosive Pull Ups – 3 reps
  7. Power Up (Negative Only) – 5 slow reps
  8. Power Up, Starting at the Top – 1 rep
  9. Swinging to Power Up – 5 reps
  10. Dead Start Power Up – 1 rep
  11. Open Hand Power Up – 1 rep

While it’s true that the Power Up requires a high degree of skill and conditioning, here at MovNat, we believe this movement is within reach of most people who follow a progressive approach to Natural Movement over the long term. So, the Power Up is not some unattainable movement reserved for the “elites.” However, for most people, especially those with less upper body strength and/or muscle mass, this movement does not come easily. And trying to rush the process increases the likelihood of injuring yourself either from a failed attempt, or an overuse injury.

So, if you decide to pursue this goal, respect the process and earn each movement progression before moving onto the next one.

Next Steps

Real world fitness that is both practical and adaptable requires a wide spectrum of movement skills, strength, and other physical conditioning, mental qualities. That’s what Natural Movement is all about. If you want help working up to high-skill movements like the Power Up, we recommend starting with the basics to lay a proper foundation from the ground up. Your best bet would be signing up for a MovNat Level 1 Certification and working your way through Levels 2 and 3. Or, you can get started at home with our MovNat Level 1 Fundamentals e-course.

*The Power Up is covered in the MovNat Level 3 Certification.


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