Skills, Drills, and Automobiles with Coach Becky

Nah. This blog don’t actually have anything to do with automobiles. We will talk about skills and drills, though, and today we’re talking about ring muscle-ups. 

Ring muscle-ups are the ultimate, right? We all want to get one and post it on the ‘gram. I get it. I did it, too. Why do we want to celebrate this particular movement? Because it’s freaking HARD! And anyone who thinks otherwise is misinformed. 

Muscle-ups require two major components: strength and technique. A while back, McKenzie talked about bar muscle-ups, and offered a banded drill to assist with mechanics. However, it is recommended for the longevity and health of your own body that you achieve a strict ring muscle-up before you do kipping ring or bar muscle-ups in workouts, which require even MORE strength. 

Honestly, after going to The Gymnastics Specialty Course, I learned that what’s preventing me from doing some of the gymnastics movements I want to do is not some crazy formula I haven’t figured out; it’s actually strength. While that’s kind of hard to swallow, because it usually takes more time to develop strength than it does to correct a technique flaw, it’s also somewhat encouraging because the answer, for many of us is so simple: get stronger. 

So, here are some drills if you’re still trying to get your first strict muscle-up, so that you can also do lots and lots of kipping muscle-ups. If you’ve got a couple strict pull-ups, but not the strength to pull low enough to make the transition in a ring muscle up, try some of these (in addition to more strict pull-ups):

  • Toenail Spot Chest-to-Bar Pull-ups. Try 5×6.
  • Banded Strict Chest-to-Bar Pull-ups. Normally we don’t recommend these because the initial pull in the strict pull-up is the hardest, which also happens to be when the band has the most tension and is thus doing the most work. However, if you can do regular strict pull-ups, when you are doing the last part of a pull to complete the strict chest to bar, the band has less tension and is then doing less of the work. Try 5×5.
  • Strict Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups, if you’ve got ‘em. Try 5×3.
  • Ring Pull-ups, pulling as low as you can. Slow negatives after you do the ring pull-ups will also help. Try 4×3.
  • Legless Rope Climbs. Try 6×1.

Anyone who is doing higher volume of muscle-ups, so any time they’re programmed in a WOD, will tell you it is more efficient to rely on your pulling muscles than your pushing ones. So pull as low down to your ribs as you can (vs. high at your armpits) so that when you make the transition, you catch yourself in the most shallow dip possible. Your lats are anatomically bigger muscles and thus can handle more volume than your triceps and pecs, which are the main muscles working in the dip. However, if your pulling muscles are strong but your dips need work, try these:

  • Dip negatives. Start with box dips if you need to, and then move to negatives on actual rings. I would recommend doing 5×3, aiming for 8-10 second negatives each rep. If you can’t do that, start shorter and work up to 8-10 seconds.

There you have it! Go get ‘em, tiger.