Due to popular demand, I’ve created this series on building to a strict muscle up on rings… This is as much for my members as it is for everyone else, so they can see why I program the things the way I do and why the insistence on certain things…
The muscle up is a fundamental movement and an incredibly important skill... - It gets us from underneath something to on top - very useful should the **** ever hit the fan - It develops strength in the full range of motion through the pull up and dip positions - It is the gateway to more advanced ring strength
Last two pieces have focused on the prerequisites, this piece focuses on what to do once the prerequisites have been mastered.
The false grip is achieved by shifting the hands up the side of the ring so that the crook of the wrist on the pinky side of the hand sits on the rings. The hand is then wrapped around the ring and held as tight as possible / necessary. The false grip is necessary (at least initially); with the wrists on top they are in a more advantageous position, offering more leverage during the transition. It should be used in all the following progressions.
Muscle Up Negatives:
These should focus on performing muscle up technique exactly in reverse. This is the trick to learning the movement before your strength allows you to perform it entirely. In addition, learning to control the movement will allow you link consecutive muscle ups together much earlier on.
- From the support position, lower down to the bottom position of a dip - Lean back slowly - Allow the hands to slide into the rings - Allow the wrist to make contact with the bottom part of the ring - Grip firmly (this provides the false grip…) - Keep the elbows tucked into the body as tight as possible - Slowly lower to the hang position
Common problem area: with the prerequisites dialled in, the usual problem encountered is poor wrist flexibility AND grip strength… This can be corrected with additional work in the warm up / cool down.
Assisted Muscle Ups:
A trick to reinforce the correct movement patterns and build strength through the whole range of motion using a method that lessens the intensity.
*Throughout the movement, keep your hands as close to you as possible and legs squeezed tight* - Hang position, false grip secured, knuckles facing each other, eyes looking up at the ceiling - Initiate the pull by driving the elbows down - At the top of the pull, shoot your hands to your armpits - Shoot your elbows straight back and look at the floor - From the bottom of the dip, push up while keeping the hands as close to the body as possible
Partner can assist by holding in a non-creepy area… Ankle / shin works well…
When the partner is offering next to no support, you essentially have your muscle up...
Common problem area: problems with this movement come from two main areas: 1/ Not pulling high enough to make it through the transition phase 2/ Missing shoulder extension - requiring an even higher pull to make it through the transition
To fix the first issue, return to the prerequisites. To fix the second issue, work more shoulder extension drills in your warm ups and cool downs.
By now you will have done a muscle up with your partner barely assisting you at all… You will have a fairly good handle on the technique and your strength and mobility should now be in place.
Go for it.
You will of course need to continue to build your strength in this movement… Single arm rows pulled to the armpit are excellent, as is continuing to work the prerequisites that most of you have probably skipped anyway…
Here's why I keep going on about prerequisites... Mr X has been doing CrossFit for about 4 years (not at my gym...)... Mr X could not do a muscle up despite fairly low body fat and an enormous amount of training hours under his belt. On the left is what I had him do once per week as of the 17th of January. I got the message on the right yesterday (20th of February), only 5 weeks later...
He did the work required and he got what he wanted... And it is well deserved!
All he had to do was build the right tool for the job - that is what working the prerequisites will do.
Your shoulders, elbows, wrists… Your joints do not care how long you’ve been “forging elite fitness” for, they only care if they have been properly prepared for the job you’re asking them to do… Like I said before, you should base your training on how all of the tissues of the body adapt, and if that means spending a few weeks, months or even years purely on ring rows and stretching, then that’s what you need to do in order to progress.