There are many functional movements in the fitness world, but not many are as flashy and fun as the muscle up.  For a lot of people doing a pull up or a ring dip is hard enough, so having to put it all together with coordination on the rings makes the muscle up the “holy grail” of functional movements. It is rare to see someone get a muscle up on their first try, or even their second or third. This is a movement that requires diligent practice, determination and lots of patience!


The first thing I would recommend is getting comfortable on the rings. Play around! You will find that the rings like to swing. When you start to learn the kip, practice swinging your body while keeping the rings in the same place. Try to make the kip on the rings as similar as possible as the kip on the bar (hollow body to superman).

  1. Play around
  2. Keep rings steady and practice kipping


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Once you have mastered the kip, and gained some awareness on the rings, it is time to get comfortable with the false grip. I will preface this by saying that the false grip is not the most comfortable way to hold onto the rings, but it is a crucial part of the transition in the muscle up. When you grab the rings, push your wrists through until the crease of your wrist makes contact with the rings. Hang from the rings, and/or the pull up bar in this position and see how long you can maintain your grip. I would recommend using a good amount of chalk and/or tape to help with your grip and avoid tearing your wrists. [highlight]A great drill that I use with my athletes is reverse Tabata false grip holds: 10 sec hold, 20 sec rest x 8[/highlight]. Once you are comfortable holding he false grip, practice kipping and pulling your hips to the rings while maintaining your grip.

  1. Grip rings normally
  2. Push wrists through rings until crease of wrist makes contact with rings
  3. Practice hanging from rings or pull up bar in this position
  4. Use chalk or tape to avoid tearing


The next progression to start training is the transition. First, lower the rings to a height that you can sit on the ground and have a slight bend in your arms. Start out by using a fairly heavy band so you can get the feeling of the transition. Hook a band on the rings like you would for a ring dip. Set your false grip (you will have to hold onto one side of the band) and have a seat on the band. Your palms should be turned in/facing each other and keep them as close as possible. Practice pulling the rings to your hips and doing the fastest, and most aggressive sit up you have ever done! I like to tell people to whip your ponytail forward (guys pretend like you have a pony tail) and look for your toes. Your elbows will flip up and you should land in the bottom of a ring dip. Decrease the strength of the band as you strength and control with the movement increases. Keep practicing until you can complete the transition without a band and without using your feet. If you can do this, you can do a muscle up!

  1. Sit on ground or band
  2. Set false grip
  3. Palms turned in and hands are as close as possible
  4. Pull to hips
  6. Land in bottom of dip


chelsea ross gymastic workshop

The last piece of the muscle up is the dip. The most efficient way to get yourself to the top of the rings is to kip out of the dip. The kip out of the dip may be the trickiest kip of all. It feels like you should push up when you kick your feet down, but that’s not the case. When you get to the bottom of the dip, hang your legs straight down. When you pull your knees up to your chest it will give you just enough lift to press out of the dip easily. Make sure you keep your elbows straight back and externally rotate the arms at the top (elbow pits forward and back of the rings touch your sides).

  1. Kip the dip
  2. At bottom of dip, hang legs straight down
  3. Pull knees up and push
  4. Externally rotate arms

This movement may seem frustrating in the beginning stages. With consistent practice and focus on form, you are bound to put the pieces together.

Remember, by focusing on quality over quantity, you will get further in the long run!


chelsea rossChelsea Ross is the founder of Technically Applied Gymnastics #TAG. Following nutrition and general metabolic conditioning, gymnastics is the next most important aspect of functional training. The TAG program is geared at improving your gymnastics skills as well as your overall performance as an athlete.

For more videos, articles, upcoming workshops and other questions, be sure to connect with Chelsea at TAGymnastics online, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (be sure to use hashtag #tagymnastics)

… and of course, email at [email protected]


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