One of the coveted movements of CrossFit is the Muscle Up. It is coveted, because, well, it’s very hard for most people to achieve. In my opinion, it is the most difficult of all of the “meat and potatoes” CrossFit movements. While some can rip out twenty or more reps, probably 80% of the box cannot get one repetition. We’ll demonstrate through video two simple progressions that individuals who cannot get a real repetition yet can use to develop the required strength and movement pattern to achieve a Muscle Up.
What is it?
A muscle up is an advanced gymnastics movement that utilizes suspended rings. The rings are suspended at least arms length above your head. Muscle ups can be completed strict (no kipping ~ snapping the body to create lift and momentary lighter weight), and using kipping (which you will see simulated in the second video).
A muscle up starts with the athlete below the rings, normally with the rings parallel to one another when gripped, and wrists facing one another, (as opposed to the rings aligned to one another and the thumbs facing one another). The athlete basically does a pull-up, but then continues upward by pulling the rings down to the sides of the chest. At this point, the athlete is in a “dip” position, and simply pressed themselves out (upward), until the elbows are locked, and the hips are about ring height.
Basic Steps in a Muscle Up
1) Hang from the rings with a false grip, thumbs on top the ring, not around, and wrists (somewhat awkwardly), wrapping over the rings
2) Pull yourself up as if doing a chin up
3) Continue to pull up beyond the chin up, until the rings are chest height. You will also turn the rings 180 degrees during this section, called the transition, in order to bring your elbows above the rings and prepare to press out (this means that both under the rings and once you are on top, the underside of your wrists are facing each other).
4) The press-out or dip is then performed as described above.
Progression 1: Strict Muscle Up with Feet on the Floor
The following video shows a simple way to develop the requisite strength for this movement. As you are able, continually raise the rings allowing your feet and legs to provide less and less support.
Progression 2: Kipping Muscle Up Floor Routine
With this video, you will see how you can begin to develop your kip and your chest rotation to a position above the bar.
Muscle Ups come slow for many, if they come at all
If you are having trouble, don’t be dismayed. You are among the ranks of the majority that do not possess this movement as part of their bag of tricks. Instead of being discouraged, be encouraged. We all have peaks and valleys in our fitness. Where you are weak, in other areas you possess strengths. Keep working on the weaknesses and celebrate your strengths! The reason more people don’t have them is because they lack the patience for progression work.