The Moby Dick of Fitness… (The Elusive Muscle Up)

By Marcherry Garnica
Oct 10 2015

The Moby Dick of Fitness… (The Elusive Muscle Up)

The muscle up…the Moby Dick of Crossfit movements that most Crossfitters have on their bucket list. What is so magical about muscle ups that everyone feels the need to get just even one? It is the fact it literally looks so beautiful when executed or the fact you know it takes so much determination to make it happen? Some days, I wish it was easier and someone would just sprinkle unicorn fairy dust and I would just float up those next to those rings

I have read countless blogs, watched countless tutorials, had many coaches work with me but yet I’m still not there! During my search I came across a blog by Crossfit Invictus about how to get your first muscle up. What really hit home for me was the two different groups they use to classify athletes. I definitely fall into Group A.

Group A : You have the requisite strength (5 Strict Pull-Ups, 5 Strict Dips, but can’t get a muscle up)

  • Learn what the transition feel like by having a qualified coach show you how to perform them. Or, at the very least, watch and see what a good strict muscle up looks like. The transition is why most people who may be strong lack the ability to get above the rings.
  • You need more time working on technique and flexibility. This group is definitely the minority. Stay with it and be patient working on the skills and drills and you will have your first muscle up in no time.

Group B : Everyone Else

Most people will fall into the group that just flat out need to get stronger. These people will need to practice strict dips and pull-ups. A great way to get stronger in these simple gymnastic movements is to build volume. The pull-up and dip are some of the most basic upper body movements that people need to spend more time on.

The transition is what I have trouble with most.  I know people who swear by the false grip. I have tried to practice just holding the false grip to get use to my weight on my wrist but after doing it a few times; I literally can’t. My wrists are just too weak!

So I have to opt for no false grip. Now what?

Scouring the interweb and YouTube I found that Coach Carl Paoli demonstrates what I need to work on to get to my magical muscle up. He goes through the muscle up progression in 4 videos.

The first video goes through pull ups, chest to bar and belly button to bar. Alright, check! Got these down! I should probably mention that I can do a bar muscle up… I know, I know what you are probably thinking because I’ve heard some people say “bar muscle ups are harder than ring muscle ups.” I say, “NAY!” Rings are harder for me. I like the fact the bar is stable. I think it helps! Anyway…

I am exactly where I need to be or am I? My hips are getting parallel with the rings but I have the hardest time shooting my head through.  My brain and body don’t seem to connect when I’m trying to do the quickest sit up at the top of the rings.

So this is where I need to patient… I guess I have no choice!

I understand the mechanics of it. My body should be in a tight body position (hollow rock) toes pointed,, no breaking at the knees, engage my lats not my arms, use the momentum for strong kip where my hips are parallel to the rings then sit up as fast as I can…then VIOLA!

Obviously, it sounds as smooth as butter when I’m talking about until I get to the gym and I’m just staring at the rings wondering why the muscle up god’s won’t take pity on me I know and you know that the victory wouldn’t be nearly as sweet if the journey wasn’t so challenging.

I will give this a go and see what happens! I think you should join me on my muscle up journey if you haven’t gotten one yet. What tips can you give our other readers?

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