The Ring Muscle Up Progression You’ve Never Been Taught

Written By Ben  |  Ring Muscle Ups 

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.

false grip RMU

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.

ring muscle up progressions

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 best ring muscle up progression

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.

RMU progression

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!

  • I have a tl:dr story about my Rings MU and the happy ending started when I joined the Muscle-Up Madness program! 🙂

    • Simone it was amazing watching you go through the program and come out the other side with amazing results! Great work, buddy! Proud coach right here.

  • Thanks Patricia 🙂 Let us know if you have any questions about the false grip. Try practicing it if you have time before or after your workouts.

  • I’m surprised how hard it is to even just hang with a false grip. I was also surprised how much closer a proper false grip got me to a RMU.

    • It’s pretty crazy the difference it can make! When you have time, try just doing short sets of false grip hands – it will help to build that strength and you’ll get more comfortable in the position 🙂

    • Absolutely. This is easily the #1 “aha” moment that people realize after getting some direct feedback from us.

      When we say “false grip” we REALLY mean it 😉

    • Thank you so much Coach Ben! I downloaded the cheat sheet. WODprep really is so awesome <3 Please keep posting useful blogs like this. I'm a huge fan.

  • Long time follower, thanks for all you do Ben! I started with BMU and struggled with kipping RMU for a while until I took a step back on worked on strict as you suggested and it all clicked. Now my issue is stringing them together, I don’t know what I am doing wrong but I just cant seem to keep the momentum going. Any suggestions?


    • Hey Zak!

      Great work getting strict in check, now you can start crushing the kipping.

      Since you mentioned “cant seem to keep the momentum going”, it sounds to me like you might be struggling with what we call the “dead drop fault”.

      Basically, instead of pushing away and re-kipping into the hollow body position, you are probably dropping straight down from the rings and don’t have any momentum into the next rep.

      We have a few drills that help fix this inside of our Muscle Up Madness coaching program. If you are interested and looking to increase that unbroken PR – shoot us an email at [email protected] and we can let you know the details!

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