Work on Ring Muscle Ups without Rings!

Written By Colette Wheeler  |  Ring Muscle Ups 

You can work on ring muscle ups without rings?!? Absolutely and all you need are a few items from around your home.  Here are 3 different drills you can work to improve dip strength, pulling strength, and those pesky transitions!

First, let’s gather the items we’ll need. Look around your space to find:

  1. Two sturdy surfaces, around hip height
  2. A backpack or duffel bag
  3. A water jug (or similar item with a handle), heavy textbooks, weighted items to put in a backpack or duffel bag
  4. A mop/broom handle

Now, with your materials in hand, here are a few drills to work on ring muscle ups while at home without any rings!

Training the Dip

For a successful muscle up, you’re going to need strong and reliable dip strength. Chances are when you hit that first rep (and many afterward), you will catch very low in the dip position. In the gym, it’s easy to sort of “bypass” this step, but at home you can target the deep dip with ease.

Use two stools to work the dip.

What you will need: 

Two sturdy raised surfaces set to your hip height. You can use stools, chairs, ottomans, tables, benches — anything stable!

What you will do: 

With palms flat on the surfaces, put your feet in front of you, slightly off the pground. Start with elbows locked out, send the shoulders forward and down. Bend at the elbows until your shoulders are in line with your hands. Then press back up! A good session will be 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

You can scale this movement by placing the feet on the ground, or even having the toes directly under you.

You can increase the difficulty by donning that backpack/duffel bag. Put as much weight as you can stuff in your backpack to make the dip harder!

Training the Pull

For a successful muscle up, you’re also going to need strong and reliable pulling strength. No pull-up bar? No problem! You can still get to work on your pulling strength

Use a study stick or bar to work the pull.

What you will need:

A broom handle and the sturdy raised surfaces you set up in your dip station. 

What you will do:

Grab that broom handle, place it across your sturdy surfaces. You will be a row or Australian Pull-up position. Place your hands just outside of shoulder width and pull your body up to contact the “bar” or broom handle. The more parallel you are with the ground, the more difficult this becomes! Level up the challenge even more by elevating the feet and/or wearing that backpack/duffel bag.

A good session here will be 3 sets of 8-10 reps. The best reps will be slow and controlled. It’s important to be very sure of your station’s stability here. If you’re worried about that broom handle snapping, use a hockey stick or a shovel.

Training the Transition

Lastly, the most skillful part of the muscle up is the transition. For a successful ring muscle up, you’re going to need to get up and over the rings. We can achieve this skill by working through a drill like Russian Dips.

For transitions, let's make a Russian Dip station.

What you will need:

You can use your dip station from your dip and pull-up drills. You may have to ‘beef it up’ a bit. Make sure your full forearm has contact with the raised surface.

What you will do:

Set up like you did for dips, between each raised surface. This time, start with your palms and forearms flat on the surfaces. Feet will stay in front of you, or toes just under you if you need a little assistance to achieve the movement. Quickly shift forward from your forearms up onto your palms. Your head and torso will come forward. Practice this by imagining a sheet of glass in front of you. Drive your head through and ‘break the glass’.

Again, a full session of practice will be 3 sets of 8-10 reps. 

Give these muscle up drills a try and let us know how it goes in the comments below. Need more explanation? Watch our full YouTube video here. What other creative drills have you been doing at home to hone in your CrossFit skills?  

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