It’s ABOUTTIME you got your first Muscle Up.
Learning your first muscle up is a different process for everyone. Some will get it on their first try and for others it will take months or years.
When I first started crossfit I had been a gymnast for over 20 years and had no idea what a muscle up was. Many assume that with my gymnastics background I would be able to do it on my first try, but that was not the case. As a female gymnast, the rings were not one of our competitive events and we never touched them because they were the men’s equipment. Instead we had the uneven bars which we did a movement called a glide kip that looks similar to a muscle up, but is actually closer to a bar muscle up.
The first time my coach introduced the muscle up I jumped on the rings and tried to swing on them like I do on a static bar, but they were going all over the place. I thought to myself, how am I supposed to get to the top of the rings when I can’t control them? The answer was I could control them, I just didn’t know how to do it yet and it would take some time! On my next turn my coach told me we’re going for a muscle up and he would spot me. So with his help I got on the rings, did a big swing and somehow got to the top with a huge spot, but I had no clue how it happened. I thanked my coach every time for keeping me safe! After a few more turns he told me to go on my own, so I did a large swing and pull but didn’t know how to turn over and I was nowhere close to making my first muscle up.
I didn’t yet know how to control the movement and put my body in the positions needed to accomplish the skill. Over the next month my coach continued to spot me and I continued to become more comfortable on the rings by doing drills, and soon after got my first muscle up on my own.
Through this process I started to realize there were three keys to doing a successful muscle up!
1.Large Swing: to perform a muscle up your body needs to hit specific shapes that will generate momentum upward!
- Arch position: Start hanging on the rings and push the rings forward and kick your feet behind you, at the end of range your shoulders and feet will be behind the rings!
- Hollow position: After the arch position you will swing the feet forward and lean the shoulders back ending with the toes in front of the rings and shoulder right below or in front of the rings. Similar to the shape of a banana! The higher you bring the toes the the more swing you will get however there is a fine balance so make sure they do not come above the rings and you can always see them!
Swinging on the rings is so tricky because unlike a static bar you are swinging on a pendulum and you must balance it out with your body!
2.Arm pull: After you hit the hollow body position you will feel a moment of weightlessness and at that point you will pull with you arms. Since you feet are in front of you and you will need to turn over and land in the dip position. Next you want to pull the rings to your chest.
3.Turn over to land in the dip: After the arm pull you kick you feet to your bottom and complete the fastest sit-up you have ever done and you will turn over and land in a dip position. As you do the sit up make sure you keep the feet high so you keep your body in a small ball. If the feet drop the momentum will pull you down and make it more difficult to land in the dip position!
Yes, there are more detailed tips that can be used to perfect the muscle up, but without these three things the movement won’t happen. And when you are first learning a skill, if you are trying to focus on too many things you will overwhelm yourself!
In my gymnastics days, every skill I learned took months of trial and error and it was an endless task trying to perfect it. Some days the skill was easy, but the next day it felt like I had never done it before. So being patient and enjoying the process is critical to learning any new skill.
If you are trying to get your muscle up, or any new skill for that matter, embrace the process, identify what you need to work on and find some cues to focus on! But make sure not to over-complicate things and in time the skill will come, I promise! Through practice, muscle memory and awareness is built, and when you pair that with strength and you have a winning combination!