Do You Make These 3 Muscle Up Mistakes

You are looking to get your first muscle up whether it be on the rings or the bar. You have tried and failed numerous times....

You have studied YouTube video after YouTube video, read progressions and downloaded or bought the latest eBook or program on how to do them

You need to read on because I have written this for you...

Having worked and trained in many CrossFit boxes and now owning my own I have been asked to teach the a wide range of clients with varying athletic abilities. The most highly requested and sexy skill everyone wants to do is the muscle-up. Countless athletes try and fail and I have seen the same athletes succeed after just one or 2 skills sessions. Flailing around on the rings by yourself will only get you so far and I have seen it lead to frustration, disappointment and in some circumstances injury because clients keep trying with bad form, no help and a point to prove...  

While it does not take athletes long to grasp the basic concept of a muscle-up, a pull up or a transition into a dip. It does take time to get good enough at these skills to do them under fatigue in a workout. It is awesome to get yourself over the rings or bar for the first time but the real work is getting good enough at the finer points so it becomes easy enough to do while fatigued during a workout. After doing 400m runs or lifting a barbell and then trying to get yourself over the rings or bar. Doing 1 at the end of a work out or the start of a session does not mean you’re an expert! That is just a cool party trick!


False Grip: Your key to a good transition!

The false grip is a GAME CHANGER! The more time you invest in practising this position and getting comfortable just hanging from the rings in this position the better your muscle ups will become. It gives you a major advantage during the pulling phase and once above the rings allows your hands to be better placed for a good solid press out (dip).

What about the bar muscle up you say?

Keeping your palms higher over the bar will allow for a stronger pull and your hands will be better positioned over the bar when trying to press out.  

How do you get better at the false grip?

Start by accumulating time holding the false grip. At first 10 seconds will be hard but it will soon become easy to hold for 30-60 seconds at a time.

I have my clients accumulate 2 mins in total every time they come into the gym for the first couple of weeks until it becomes a strong position. When doing this use as little sets as possible.

Sort out your setup

When holding the rings in the false grip clients have a tendency to squeeze the crap out of the rings. This is not ideal for a couple of reasons.

  1. When squeezing something you will actually fall out of the false grip and form more of a grip which you would squeeze the steering wheel of your car with instead

  2. The wrong muscles are being engaged and will make the movement harder and this is something you cannot afford when learning the muscle up

Focus instead on keeping your elbows slightly bent which will keep your forearms and biceps flexed and in turn keep the false grip locked in over the rings.

I also want you to note the position of my wrist in the pictures below. The point where my weight is being held is directly below the strap in image 1 and is the correct way to set up. If your set up is like that of image 2 you will find it difficult to maintain the false grip and needs to be modified to the position in image 1. 


Image 1

good grip.jpg

Image 2


Get your body weight forward

Think of the turnover like you’re trying to get out of the side of a pool without steps. Firstly you pull yourself as high as possible out of the water on the edge. Once your body is high and out of the water you transfer as much weight forwards as possible in order to get out.

Now that you have that image in mind let’s transfer it to a muscle up.

Once you have pulled yourself (with your false grip) to the peak of your pull from blow the rings before gravity gets a chance to take over you need to transfer your body weight forwards as fast as possible. This skill can be practised with many different drills. If you want more info on these enter your details below and I will send them to you.

There is no best cue to give to get you over the rings and you will have heard many so instead let's talk about the position you need to land in?

Image 3 shows a bad position and one that I see all too often when clients miss muscle up attempts. The is the position of someone who has not thrown their body weight forwards far enough. This is not always due to a physical inability but could be that the athlete is not prepared mentally or is freaking out and lacking confidence to get their weight forwards. More practice on the transition is required.


Image 3


Image 4 shows the position you should be aiming to reach after throwing your weight forwards. The forearms are at 90 degrees to the ground and your body weight should be well forwards of the rings. The faster you can go from pulling yourself from below the rings to reach this position the better and more efficient your muscle ups will become. This also now needs to become the depth you do all of your ring dips! If you practice ring dips and do not perform them to this depth you will find it very difficult to press out of this position. 


Image 4

These are the most common errors I see hold clients back from getting their first muscle up and can sometimes leave coaches stumped and wondering why their athlete cannot seem to get there… They are only minor fixes but make a MASSIVE difference in your ability and efficiency in the muscle up. 

Once you have got the basics sorted and can get yourself over the rings or bar the next step is to build some strength and capacity so you can perform muscle ups in workouts. If you want help creating a program that will help you then get in touch and I will be happy to help…

In fact I want to offer the first 5 people enter their details below my 4 week Muscle up capacity training program for FREE!

Why am I offering this for FREE?

My aim is to share my knowledge of health and fitness with as many people as possible while I have the opportunity and I want to reward those who are dedicated and take action because they will be the ones who will put in the work and get the best results from the program.

Enter your details below and if you are one of the first 5 I will send it to you instantly! 


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