Let’s talk ring muscle ups. Everyone wants to be able to string them together, yet getting there safely (keyword) can take some time and discipline. We’re here to help.
At WODprep, we really try to stress the importance of first learning a strict ring muscle up progression before you start stringing kipping muscle ups together. Not only does this prove that you’re strong enough to do a muscle up in the first place, but it also ensures that you have the right mechanics - and overall it’s simply a safer movement.
Ring Muscle Up Progression: False Grip
Let’s start at the very beginning: your grip. In order to even do a ring muscle up, you have to know how to do a false grip. A false grip is when you put the crook of your wrist (where it bends) over the top of the rings, with your hands draped over the bottom of the rings, knuckles over the top and facing in.
Before we even get off the ground, it’s pretty important to practice this grip regularly so that you become comfortable with it.
- Step one of practicing is to hold a false grip while hanging onto a pull-up bar; so that your wrists fall across the top, but your hands aren’t actually wrapping around.
- Step two is to hold a false grip on the rings, with your fists closed. This will help to develop the false grip hold. From there, wrap your thumbs around the rings, and holding that position in a dead hang.
- Step three is to transition from the hang, to doing false grip pull-ups. Pull yourself up towards the rings, all the way to your sternum. Keep your elbows close to your body while you’re doing this. Not only is this great for becoming comfortable with the false grip itself, but also helps with that pulling strength.
Completing the Ring Muscle Up progression
Step four is to then actually finish that ring muscle up. From the pull-up position at the top, throw your head and shoulders through the rings, finishing in a dip position and then locking out. A key here is to think ‘fast/violent sit-up’.
The transition can be the most difficult position of the ring muscle up, but if you’re able to start by simply mastering the false grip and pulling yourself up high on the rings, the movement will only continue to get easier.
Strict Ring Muscle Up Drills
Now, let's take a look at a great drill to help you work through the above ring muscle up progression: banded ring pull-downs (one of my favorites).
For set-up, all you need are two rings (wooden are best) and one band. Loop one ring through each end of the band, and throw the band over a pull-up rig, or any high up bar in the gym. The rings should fall low enough so that you can grab them (in a false grip) and then sit down on the floor.
From that position (sitting) you move from arms being fully extended, to pulling the rings downwards, tight into your chest, and then aggressively transferring your head through with your chest falling slightly forward.
The more the band stretches in this drill, the more the tension increases, which means that while you’re in transition (the most difficult part of the ring muscle up) you will have slightly more resistance (which is a good thing).
This is the exact same position that your body will have during a strict, suspended ring muscle up.
To step it up from here, you can make the band tighter (or use a thicker band) or if you need it a bit easier, try a band with less resistance. Scale it however you need - this is why it’s a great drill for all levels.
And remember NOT to let go of the rings while you are sitting on the floor.
The above drills are great starting points for you to achieve that first strict ring muscle up you’ve been seeking. If you're looking for a even more visual demonstrated, we have a video that walks through the ring muscle up progression below:
Last but not least - comment below, and let us know what you struggle with when it comes to learning ring muscle ups. We want to help!
Muscle Up Madness Magic
Laura, Ontario, WODprep Athlete - Muscle Up Madness
Finally got a ring muscle 5 weeks into the Muscle Up Madness program! Muscle Ups have been so frustrating to me forever, I never thought I’d be able to do. This program is magic, trust it!