Perfecting your Grip and Arm Positioning during Muscle Ups

The muscle up is a major event in any Crossfitter’s career. Whether you are working towards your first, or you rep them out without a care in the world, here are a few technical aspects to consider.

Maintaining control over the bar or the rings is vital when you are working on Muscle Ups.

There are two options:

You can establish the grip control as you are swinging / pulling, or during the ‘catch’ phase of the exercise, as you lock into position before you perform the final push. Both of these are important when it comes to effectively

mastering that perfect Muscle Up technique. You need to experiment to find what suits you, and everyone is different, but concentrate on finding the point that works best for you to establish your grip.

You need to experiment to find what works best for you
You need to experiment to find what works best for you

There are 3 main types of grip that people generally adopt during the Muscle Up.

The first is the full false grip. This is an over the top grip, with the wrist locked into position.

The second is the pseudo false grip, where the meat of the palm of the hand is over the ring, but the wrist is not locked into a straight line with the arm.

The third is to just grap the ring and adapt your grip to the movement. This is the least advised, as it is always better to have a plan, and until you are confident enough that your training will ensure that you adopt a solid grip position naturally, you should concentrate on this developing this point. If this is what you naturally do, make a conscious effort to maintain a pseudo false, or full false grip position.

LEFT: Full false grip RIGHT: Pseudo false grip
LEFT: Full false grip RIGHT: Pseudo false grip

The pseudo false grip position gives you an active wrist, and is beneficial for many in that it is not as rigid as the full false grip position. In the latter, you gain no advantage over the apparatus that you are using.

Keeping a strong wrist position throughout the entire range of motion is important for completing a successful muscle up.

A good analogy is arm wrestling. Think about how you feel when you curl your wrist instead of keeping it straight, it gives you greater control and strength doesn’t it? This same principle can be applied to your muscle up. Tense your wrists, yet allow them to be adaptive enough to the natural movement of the rings as well.

Straps can also be a good idea during training to give you a touch of extra confidence and support, but try not to rely on them, think of them as extras rather than essentials.  Concentrate on keeping a strong position and focus on your grip and wrist and forearm positioning as much as you can. The muscle up is an advanced gymnastic exercise, and a milestone within any crossfitter’s journey.

Featured Image (top) by CrossFit Jääkarhu at Karhu Strength

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About The Author

Editor-In-Chief at BOXROX. I come from a background of rugby and weightlifting. Growing up in the English Lake District, I spent a great deal of time swimming in its stunning lakes and rivers. In 2015 my brothers and I became the first people to swim the 145km length of the River Eden, from source to mouth, in 9 days. We also swam the Corryvreckan whirlpool, the third largest in the world, and Crossfit is a huge part of my training for these events.

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