Ring Muscle Ups: A quick guide for everybody.

Below, is a break down the Ring Muscle Up. It’s written as simply as possible, so we can get more of you flying through the skies of our gym when the time comes.

Firstly, for a gymnast, performing the ring muscle-up is the equivalent of a rally car driver opening the door of his car in order to start the motor and drive away. For us CrossFitters who want nail this skill we want to say it IS on the table if you put in the hard graft and give it enough time. 

Below are some bullet points, explaining where your body needs to be bolstered to achieve the ring muscle up. 

  • Upper body pulling strength: You need to be able to consistently perform chest to bar and even weighted strict pull-ups. If you come along to class on the regular the pull-ups will begin to happen. If you move your membership up a notch it will happen even faster. In the not too distant future we will look at adding some Skills classes. Any techniques you learn in WOD or Skills class can also be applied to your open gym practice.
  • Ring Dips: These things get worked quite often at Shapesmiths. Multiple deep and full range reps transfer over to the ring muscle up! If you don’t have Ring Dips, work box dips and variations including negatives and band assisted.
  • Scapular strength & experience of the ‘transition’: Scapular strength is developed in many ranges and planes at our gym. When we then get specific with something like our favourite Ring Muscle Up Transition Drill we start to cook on gas. One of the best videos to explain how to practice the transition is found here: https://youtu.be/wxzOrYbSf5k it’s also great for shoulder strength!
  • Poor mobility: This is what it is. Some of you come in with years of the sport, prior niggles and injuries and/or sitting at a desk. It is SO important that we get you looked after by the Livewell Clinic medical team. The usual culprits here can be lack of thoracic & shoulder mobility. 
  • The Wrist: For the strict ring muscle up and kipping, in most cases, you are going to need to develop your ‘False Grip’. Developing forearm and/or wrist strength, as well as flexibility, will be key here. A big tip is: whenever you ring row in a warm-up or WOD add in a false grip
  • Body Composition. An often non-discussed part of pull-ups and muscle ups in CrossFit gyms. Ultimately, if you are carrying excess body fat and have not developed the amount of useful, lean muscle mass you need to master your bodyweight and get up and over the rings/pull-up bar, progress may be slow. To focus on your power:body mass ratio it’s quite simple at Shapesmiths. Our own Nutritionists Liam Holmes & Chloe Salter (pH nutrition) offer a free 15min chat, on-site, about your nutrition and tailoring it to your goals.

What if you are set and have all of the above sorted? 

  1. The Kip Swing: This must be strong and well developed, with rhythm. Hit up both Hollow arch and hold positions on the floor then take them to the rings. The hollow body is LIFE. Or, use this brilliant towel drill.
  2. Use your legs & hips BEFORE pulling with your arms: This rule is true of many CrossFit movements. Push Press, Handstand Push Ups, Snatch, Clean and Jerk. The list goes on. Everything is everything.
  3. The Iceberg: Unlike an iceberg, where over 90% of its mass is below water and it STILL floats. You won’t have multiple muscle ups if 90% of your mass is below the rings. You’ll have struggle ups. Correct this by putting points 1&2 into action.

  1. Gripping the Rings to death. You need to look at allowing your hand to relax slightly as you transition between the kip swing and the dip. Developing to a hybrid grip may also help.

  1. Kipping the dip. If you are trying to link multiple reps, you must.kip.the.dip. There are two ways to do this and I or any of the coaches are happy to show anyone who has the rest of the above down pat and perfected. Simply drop us a message at [email protected]

BONUS LINK: Muscle Up Efficiency Tips with Chris Spealler