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E

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U U SC LE U P
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BY

MAX SHANK

ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

Table of Contents
1. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
2. PULLUPS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
3. DIPS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
4. IM STILL NOT GETTING IT. . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

CHAP TER 1

INTRODUCTION

ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

The muscle up is the king of upper body training. It combines


the Pullup and the Dip through a challenging transition. If you
had to choose one exercise for your upper body for absolute
freaky strength and muscle balance, it would be the muscle up.
Specifically, the ring muscle up.
Unfortunately, you dont see a lot of muscle ups used in training
these days. People just simply dont know how to do them, or
they arent strong enough. Usually it is the former.
I have seen this move butchered, attempted, and utterly failed. It
pains me to see, because it doesnt have to be that way.
Not only will the muscle up build killer strength if done properly,
but it will definitely reward you with some serious beach muscles.

FIRST THINGS FIRST!


Equipment: Rings, obviously. There are many good options of
rings available out there with different feels. I have really taken to
a wooden ring but there are lots of plastic versions out there that
work just fine. Be sure to get a pair that is adjustable.
You may find the surface of your rings too slick for the high grip
demand of the muscle up. You will, of course, be using chalk, but
I would also recommend athletic tape for the ring itself. Putting a
layer of athletic tape on the bottom half of the ring will give you a
nice feel and superior grip friction--this is what I have personally
done with my rings.

ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

Set-Up: Anchor the rings apart from each other using your arm
(Elbow to fingertips) as a measure--this puts you in a good position relative to your body type but wont vary too much from
person to person.
The height of the rings is going to depend entirely on which movement you are trying to work. If you are working muscle ups, the
rings should allow you to hang completely with your feet off the
floor and require you to jump up or step up to the rings with a
box.
If you are simply working dips, the rings should be set at about
chest level.

How many pullups and dips do I have to


be able to do in order to get a muscle up?
(I get this question almost daily at this point.)

THE ANSWER IS, AT LEAST ONE.


A muscle up is, one pullup with one dip at the top.
Obviously more would be better but you should be training pullups
and dips anyway.
I have often found that the key to the muscle up lies more in the
technique, mobility of the shoulders, and the completeness of the
pullup and dip than of absolute strength.

CHAP TER 2

PULLUPS

ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

Before we get into the pullup we have to address what is the most
common error of the muscle up the false grip.
When performing the muscle up, you wont have a chance during
the transition of the pullup phase to move your hand position for
the dip portion of the movement. This means that your grip at the
bottom of the pullup, has to be the same as your grip at the top
of the dip.

ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

The pinky side heel of your hand/wrist is going to rest on top of


the ring (All the way on top!) while the rest of your hand grips
the top. Your hand wont be directly at the bottom of the ring but
slightly towards the thumb side of the ring.
If you are doing this correctly, you will notice some callous development where your wrist and hand meet on the pinky side.
Once you have your false grip locked in, work a few transitions
with the rings below chest level, assisting with your legs as much
as possible by squatting up and down. This is going to give you a
good idea of where your hands need to be, and stay during the
movement.
Feeling confident? Bring the rings up and try some pullups. Attempt
to bring the pinky fingers to draw a line through the middle of
your chest reaching toward your navel. Lower back down to a
full hang with your palms facing outward. Do not let the rings
move outward toward your shoulders, keep them in tight. Stop
and reset if you lose your false grip at any time.

CHAP TER 3

DIPS

ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

The first step of mastering a ring dip is nailing down a support


position.
If you cant stabilize yourself at the top of the rings, its going to
make it very difficult to use your strength to get there. Set up with
your hands on top of the rings with palms facing each other (not
backward) and attempt to have your elbow pits facing forward.

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ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

This may be very difficult at first, but dont worry it will improve
quickly.
It should go without saying that if you have major shoulder issues,
muscle ups should be out of the picture. The dip portion of a
muscle up requires you to perform an extreme range of motion
dip. You need to have a great deal of strength and mobility to
move through that position back to the top.
While doing dips with the intention of achieving a muscle up, you
need to bring your hands all the way in to your arm pits--as deep
as possible. This is where your pullup transition will finish during
the muscle up. Your legs should hang straight down and slightly
angled forward rather than the traditional dip with legs crossed
behind you. This is also important for the transition.
As I mentioned before there is no upper or lower limit of pullups
and dips to do for a muscle up, but I think that 5 good ones of
each is a nice starting point. Remember though, its more about
how well you do them--how high you pull up, and how deep you
dip--than how many you do.
Go back and work a few transitions using your legs as much as
you need to just to get the feel again.
Next set the rings up around shoulder height and jump up to a
support position. Now we are going to work the full negative.
Descend into a full ROM dip and slowly bring your pinkies together
in front of your chest. Finish by lowering down into a pullup. Jump

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ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

back to the top and repeat. Go as slow as possible; going fast is


just highlighting a gap in your strength in a given range of motion.

Do no more than 3 reps. Just focus on going slow and smooth.


Maintain your false grip at all times.
The full muscle up: Now that you have nailed down false grip
pullups, dips, and the full negative, you are well prepared to
attempt the full muscle up.
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ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

KEY POINTS
Maintain your false grip
Lift your chest up toward the ceiling with legs in front of you
during the pullup.
Once you reach the apex of the pullup, bring your legs
upward (toward parallel to the floor) as you drive your head
and chest forward placing you at the bottom position of a
dip. Think of a jackknife motion where your chest and legs
come closer together. This is necessary to move your center
of gravity directly over the rings.
Keep the rings close to you and your hands close together.
Imagine you are drawing a line with your pinky fingers
through your sternum (breast bone) down and back through
your bottom rib.

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ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

A QUICK WORD ABOUT KIPPING:


Dont do it. These are called muscle ups, not kip ups. You look like
a fish out of water. Use your strength.
After the false grip, the hand positioning during the transition is
the second most common mistake. If you bring your hands out
to the side to early, you have no leverage. In fact, performing a
muscle up on rings with a wide grip is called a Bulgarian muscle
up--this variation is used by high level gymnasts as an accessory
exercise for the iron cross. If you can already do an iron cross, it
is safe to say that you dont need any help with your ring muscle
ups.
Once you get that bottom position of a dip, with hands close
together, simply press out and you are done. Move slowly back
down through the transition and try for a second rep without
losing your false grip.

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CHAP TER 4

IM STILL NOT
GETTING IT.

ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

No problem if you dont get it right away, it can take practice.


Here are some things you can try to fix your muscle up if you are
still having trouble.
Back Ups: Start at the top and lower down into a negative
moving only slightly into the transitional phase and then reverse
the motion before you lose control. Try to increase your range of
motion until you are doing a full muscle up.
Pullup isometric holds: With a false grip, loop a band or belt
anchored to the floor around your foot and pull hard upward at
the top of a pullup. This will build strength in this top end range
of motion making the transition easier. Just remember, the higher
you pull, the easier the transition.
Weighted pullups and dips: Add some weight. Maintain a false
grip on pullups. This will build up some extra strength which will
make things easier--including your life. Yes being strong makes
life better.
Supported Muscle up: Set the rings at a height where you can
assume a false grip while seated with legs out in front of you at
an L. Perform a muscle up leaving your legs on the floor. This
will significantly lighten the load but allow you to work on your
transition.
Flexibility: If your shoulders are too tight to get a solid range of
motion pullup and dip, you are going to need to be extremely
explosive and strong to compensate, or work on your mobility.

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ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

Just work on your mobilitystretch the pecs out and own that top
end range of motion of your pullup.
If youve made it this far, chances are you are crushing muscle ups
on the rings, great job.
Once you can do 6-8 muscle ups you have a couple options for
progression.
Add weight via a weight belt.
Hold an L position with legs extended in front of you parallel to the floor the whole time.
Go super slow and own each portion of the movement.
I wouldnt advise moving toward a wide grip muscle up as a
progression, its a very specific drill for gymnasts and can be
murder on the shoulders.
So there you have it, a full zero to hero guide to take your ring
muscle up as far as your dedication will allow. Be sure to use
your newly acquired strength for good and dont let those beach
muscles go to your head.

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ULT I MATE M US C LE U P G U ID E

If you have any more questions or comments,


I would love to hear from you; please visit
http://www.totalbodyweightstrength.com

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