How to do a Muscle-Up on the Rings

Muscle-Up Collage

The Muscle-Up.  It may be a beginner level skill for a gymnast, but for the vast majority of us, it is tough.  Some of us have the nack and get it almost immediately while others take forever and may not ever even see one.

Of course, most who do eventually manage a muscle-up do so after numerous (or hundreds of) failure attempts.  Like virtually everything, it’s practice that ultimately determines your muscle-up ability.  However, what I’d like to share with you in this post are 3 tips to the Muscle-Up that will help you get there.  They certainly helped me immensely.

Pre-Tip Tip - Prerequisites.  Unfortunately, despite the fact that a muscle-up has a huge technique component to it, you will not be able to attain one without first being comfortable with the ring dip or ring pull-up.  If you can knock out a bunch of consecutive ring dips, then you should be able to get a muscle-up.

  • Tip 1 - The False Grip.  This is huge.  Without the false grip, I guarantee you that you will never be able to do a muscle-up on the rings.  Bar muscle-ups don’t necessarily require a false grip, but ring muscle-ups definitely do (except for the elite few).The false grip essentially preps you for your support position at the apex of your muscle-up (the up position of a dip).  Think about how your hand would rest on the ring in a dip.  The ring lies under the palm of your hand, from the inner palm opposite the thumb to the “ball” of your index finger.  Grasp the ring in this way, such that the ring is diagonal across your hand.
  • Tip 2 - The Pull. Many people starting out with the muscle-up falter at this step. Your initial pull should be hard to the chest. Kip into it to help get the hard pull and pull right down to your sternum, or thereabouts. The hard pull will get you setup for the transition to the dip portion.
  • Tip 3 - The Transition. Once you’ve got yourself up as much as possible, you need to transition from the pull portion to the dip. Push your head forward and turn your wrists so that your knuckles are facing out. You will likely also find it more natural and easier to do this if you also kick out your feet a bit at the same time. Bringing your fee up changes the balance of weight to your front and assists in the forward lean. Once your head is through, start the push. And push hard.

So there you have it - Three not-so-secret tips for getting your first muscle-up. Good luck!

May 2008 Muscle Ups and Handstands

Progression on my muscle-ups and handstands is coming along. I’ve got about 5 consecutive muscle-ups now and I’m getting more and more comfortable going into a handstand and balancing (although I still can’t get my legs straight). I threw together a small video to show the to-date progress:

music in the video is by Kill Hannah - a Chicago band that’s somehow managed to stay out of the spotlight for years.

The Most Wicked Muscle-Up Ever

Check out this muscle-up.  The gymnast is Andreas Aguilar at the 1991 World Professional Gymnastics Championships.  Andreas makes it look so smooth and easy, it’s truly unreal.  The rest of his routine is also great, including the unusual dismount, but a muscle-up like the one at the beginning of the video would take an incredible amount of strength.  I can’t even imagine how much training would be needed to build up the strength to pull so smoothly.  The cheering crowd in the background seems to agree.

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The Elusive Muscle Up is Coming Out of its Shell

The muscle ups were hit and miss for a while there. I’d get one or two no problem one day and then the next, I’d have a world of trouble. This has been going on for a couple of weeks now. I’ve been trying to get in at least one good muscle up every day. Having the rings in my basement now makes that a little easier.

It turns out that my work is paying off. On Wednesday I managed to get 4 unbroken muscle ups in a row. It’s actually the first time that I’ve gotten more than one in a row without resetting my grip.

Here’s a vid of me making my PR, courtesy of Tracey.