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My friend asked me what the main difference between Muscle Up’s and (arms only) Deadlift’s are, and I found it interesting to think about as I had never bothered considering this before. She then went on to force me to write a blog about it because there isn’t much out there on this particular subject. So, for those who are interested, here we are!

First, let’s look at the difference…

Muscle up:


Of course, we have the obvious muscle groups… Yes, you use your arms and your core *bravo* but what I am interested in is what are the main big differences that could make one easier for one person but harder for another. Here are some of the major muscular differences. I have simplified this a lot to make it manageable for those with no anatomy background but want to improve these awesome big tricks! But feel free to message me with any questions.

Muscle up

Biases use of the posterior chain

We start folded at the hips and as we push and pull through the shoulders our hips open up and the posterior chain contracts. Some important examples are
Serratus anterior, trapezius, erector spinea, gluteus max


Biases use of the anterior chain.

We start open at the hips and as we push through the shoulders our hips fold and the anterior chain contracts. Some important examples are

Hip flexors, pectorialis major, rectus abdominis

This helps show the main differences of muscles that are primarily concentrically contracting (Shortening as they are used) in each of these movements. You are using all these muscles in both movements, pole is very much a whole body experience, but its more how they are being used that is important when it comes to conditioning off the pole.The concentrically contracting muscles are the strongest in that movement so we want to strengthen these areas to create a strong Muscle Up or Deadlift (or both!).

There are some areas where concentrically training will benefit both movements, such as Latisimus Dorsi, Rotator Cuff, and general lower limb to help with leg extension and toe point.

This explains why some people can be really good at one but not the other. For example, I love Deadlifting and found it easy to learn. But muscle up is literally SO hard for me because my posterior chain was shockingly shit, I have had to work very hard on my back muscles to mitigate injuries and in that process my muscle up became easier – who’d have thought it!

This is also an important factor to consider when thinking about injury prevention because if you have one chain weaker than the other, your risk of injury is much higher!

Thanks for reading… Happy conditioning!