The Muscle-up is one of those magical movements in the CrossFit world — everyone want to get their first. Use these training tips and you’ll get there in no time.

When you first start CrossFit there are a few things everyone wants to get their “first” of—pull-up, HSPU, rope climb, and of course the muscle-up.  The  drive to do your first muscle-up becomes the goal,  but at the expense of technique and ultimately endurance.I can’t tell you the number of athletes I have worked with who grab hold of the rings daily and try to magically kip themselves above them.  Even if they manage to get themselves above the rings,  they  either don’t have the strength to dip out of it.

Why does this happen?  It is because we are not refining the mechanics, developing the prerequisite strength and working on the two major skill components of the muscle-up.

Prerequisite Strength

To do a muscle-up you need to be able to do a pull-up (ideally chest to bar) and a ring dip. Coach Glassman says a minimum of 15 of each is necessary to prove you have the strength.  Of course you can kip yourself into your first muscle-up but a strict one will leave you less likely to get injured and and help you develop even better kipping muscle-ups. The muscle-up requires an aggressive, strong pull-up, and your deepest ring dip.

The Skills

The False Grip

You know that bony spot on your wrist just below the mushy meat of your hand?  That’s where the ring will sit.  Once you start working your false grip, that area will never heal, but it’s worth it.

The false grip does two very important things.  First, it shortens the distance you have to pull to the rings and it eliminates one lever.  Secondly, the false grip is an ideal grip to push and to pull from, making the transition easier.

The Transition

Moving from that pull to push is really where the magic of the muscle-up happens.  It’s a challenging and keeping the rings tight together is vital.

Some cues you’ll hear me say:

Fist bump like you are in New Jersey – keep those rings tight for as long as possible.

Tight rings are easy rings – just like a straight bar path is an easy bar path, the closer you keep them, the easier it will be.

Hulkamania is running wild – keep those ribs tight and trace your ribs as if you are ripping your shirt off.

The Drill

1 – Start by standing between the rings.

2 – Grab your false grip; send your knees forward, lean back.  It’s ok if your arms are not at full extension.

3 – Maintaining your false grip,  pull the rings to your sternum, not your chest, your sternum, the knuckles  of both hands should be touching.

4 – Hit the transition, an aggressive sit-up.  Remember this is a strict muscle-up, not a slow muscle-up.  I want you looking up and then  down as soon as possible.  It’s as if you are head-butting someone.

5 – Dip out. If you don’t have the strength to do the dip, use your feet to help assist.

Of course as with anything in life, practice makes perfect. Avoiding the following mistakes will help you get there.

Common Mistakes

Jack in the box 

We will often see people bypassing the low ring dip,  immediately moving from their transition to the top of the ring dip.  While you may see some high level athletes capable of this, it’s not how your first muscle-up will occur, be sure to move through each part of the progression.

Rings coming apart

As stated those rings need to stay close together, letting them slowly come apart makes the movement significantly more challenging.

Losing your false grip

The grip will be uncomfortable at first but necessary to develop if you are going to achieve your first muscle-up on high rings.

Use this progression, work on the skills, develop the strength, and it’s a matter of time before you hit your first muscle-up!

Want more ways to make the most of CrossFit? Read on:

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