How to Get Your First Muscle Up
Have you been chasing your first muscle up for a while now? If you've been swinging around on the rings for months, without much progress, this post is for you!
The muscle up is one of the most difficult movements to master in the box. It's not impossible, but it does require more thought and commitment than some of the other movements.
If you feel stuck, you need to get back to basics. Don't try to rush the movement, but break it down into its component parts and go from there. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Build Your Strength
If you're not comfortable with pull ups and ring dips yet, work on building your strength in these movements first.
When you think about it, in basic terms the muscle up is essentially a pull up followed by a dip - with the transition in between. So, if you're not confident with either of these movements, you're probably going to struggle on the rings.
Getting awesome at these two movements should be at the top of the list when it comes to preparing yourself for your first muscle up. Work on the strict movements, no kipping, to build strength and stability.
Include different pull up variations, and add some extra weight if you can. Don’t forget to practice on the rings, too.
Learn the Technique
Before you attempt your first full muscle up, drill the technique. This can be difficult to learn - but if you take some time to make sure you understand the movement, you’ll be rewarded later.
A lot of people seem to think they can just mess around on the rings and eventually a muscle up will happen. Whilst this may be true, to a certain extent, it’s not the safest way to get your first muscle up. Not only do the risks outweigh the rewards, but this approach won’t help you progress to the efficient movement you’ll need to tackle WODs, either.
Check out this video from Barbell Shrugged for some scaling options that will allow you to practice the technique:
Work on Your Shoulder Mobility
Shoulder mobility, or lack of it, is one of the biggest limiting factors when it comes to the muscle up. If you’re strong enough and feel confident with the technique, this may be what’s holding you back.
Good range of motion in the shoulders is essential for many movements in the box - so the advantages of regular mobility work will go way beyond your first muscle up.
Here are some ideas, from Breaking Muscle, to get you started:
Commit to It
Unless you’re one of those ninjas who picks everything up on the first attempt, getting your first muscle up is going to take some work.
This doesn’t mean flailing around on the rings for a bit every few months. Figure out where you’re starting from, and commit to working on it a couple of times per week. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes each time, it will make a huge difference.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Just turn up at the box 10 minutes early, and use the extra time to work on building your strength or improving technique. Do a little shoulder mobility work every couple of days. Focus on doing a little, and doing it often. This will be much more beneficial than short bursts of motivation, followed by months of procrastination.
This post is a really basic guide to get you started on your muscle ups. Of course, there are many more things you can try once you’ve got the basics nailed. What’s your favourite muscle-up tip?