Getting your First Ring Muscle Up is Easier Than You Think!

This year (thanks to bar muscle ups) athletes were able to avoid facing the Ring Muscle Up…What about next year, though? What about your next local competition? If you want to leave the scaled division behind and start hitting muscle ups- listen up!

‘All too often I see desperate, last-minute attempts to uncontrollably kip above the rings. It gets ugly. It gets messy. And as a coach, it makes me cringe.’

Muscle ups happen to be one of my favorite movements to teach because they require specific training, dedication, and persistence. They are a fantastic display of strength, coordination, and skill. However if one of those three requirements is missing, you might end up on the next edition of ‘Crossfit Fails’.

Ring Muscle Ups, before and after
This will be you! Before and After 🙂

Before getting into the nitty gritty, let’s ask some questions:

  1. Can you do 5 or more strict pull-ups unbroken?
  2. Can you do 5 or more strict ring dips unbroken?
  3. Can you do 10 or more kipping chest-to-bar pull-ups unbroken?
  4. Can you do a single, strict chest-to-bar pull-up?

If you answered yes to each one of these questions- you can do a muscle up 100% guaranteed. You just need a little coaching and some practice. If you are thinking “Hmm, I’ve never tried a strict chest-to-bar, but I can do all of those other things”…you are probably much closer to muscle ups than you realize.

‘As complex as the muscle up seems, it is simply a ring pull-up combined with a sit-up followed by a ring dip.’

Sounds simple enough, right? However despite its simplicity, many people sit and stare at the rings, wondering what kind of magic pill they can take to give them the gift of ‘muscle up flight’.

Here are the three keys to getting your first ring muscle up:


Ring Muscle Up Source: Photo Courtesy of CrossFit Inc
Ring Muscle Up false grip

You might be saying: ‘Ben, literally everyone says I need to learn the false grip, but NONE of the Games athletes use it. Why should I?!’

That argument is like loading a barbell and saying, ‘Froning can snatch 305lbs, so that means I can snatch 305lbs!’.

Remember, he started with a PVC pipe just like you and I. Learning the false grip is the FIRST step you need to take toward developing a muscle up. In fact, it is the ONLY thing I teach my online athletes for the first few sessions of muscle up training. If I can get an athlete to perform a strict false grip ring pull-up on week one, then I know they will have a muscle up within a few weeks.

Unfortunately many athletes say ‘I can’t hold on to the false grip!’ or ‘It really hurts my wrist so I don’t like using that technique.’

My response: When was the last time you specifically practiced in order to develop the false grip?

If you started treating the false grip like any of your major lifts (practicing on a consistent basis, hopefully), then my guess is that you would see MAJOR improvements. Too often people try to attempt the muscle up as a whole instead of taking time to work on the individual parts. That’s like trying to dunk a basketball without figuring out how to jump properly.

The reason the false grip is so important is because it puts your wrist in an optimal position to allow the ‘turnover’ to take place. It works like ‘magic’ to get you above the rings with little-to-no kipping required.


Transitions are the ‘sexy’ part of the ring muscle up. They are the link between the pull-up and the dip.

I said it before and I am going to say it again for emphasis:

‘Too often people try to attempt the muscle up as a whole instead of taking time to work on the individual parts.’

The best way to practice transitions is to do them! Understanding the way your body catapults itself from a pull-up into a dip takes time, so you have to make sure to get your reps in! After several practice sessions you’ll start to develop muscle memory for the Ring Muscle Up. I’ve found that there are some drills that work really well to train for the coordination and speed required to make the transition successful. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Floor Transitions
  • Box Transitions
  • Banded Ring Pull-Downs
Ring muscle up banded drill
Ring muscle up banded drill


I understand how frustrating it can be. You are close, yet feel so far away. Have faith! You are just a few positive habits away from leaving the “scaled” division behind. The key is making consistent progress, practicing the right drills, and trusting the process.

Realize this: if you only practice these drills a few times a year then you will see little to no progress. On the other hand, if you spend 45 minutes per week practicing, developing, and training your false grip and transition, you will see MASSIVE progress and ultimately success!


Last but not least, make sure you find an accountability buddy! Share this article with a friend or simply tag them on Facebook. Recruit them to perform the workout at least once a week with you. Having someone to train with through this process will make it even easier (and more fun!)

If you have any questions for me regarding muscle up training, please just leave a comment below! I will answer every single one!


Featured Image © Stevie D Photography

False Grip Image © CrossFit Bournemouth

All other Media and Images © WODprep

Image Sources

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