How to Master The Ring Muscle-Up

Ring Muscle Up

Today we’ll be discussing the Ring Muscle Up. It’s a move in which you go from hanging on the rings to all the way to the top of the rings. This is a fairly technical exercise which basically has 3 different stages, namely the high chin up, the transition & the low dip. We’ll be using the different stages of the Ring Muscle Up to explain the different progressions of building up safely to finally performing this exercise. It’s for sure not an easy move and it could lead to injury, so let’s take it step by step. Let’s get to it! 

Before starting the move you’ll be starting in a dead hang (turning your arms out, thumbs turning away from the body) & you’ll finish in a straight arm position (palms facing forward) in the end of the movement.

Ring muscle up vs bar muscle up

Firstly, it’s useful to understand the difference between the bar muscle-up and Ring Muscle Up. The difference is that a bar muscle up starts with a pull-up (palms facing away from the body) instead of a chin up (palm facing towards the body) as is the case with a ring muscle up. Also the gymnastic rings can move, so there’s no need to move the body around the bar. This does make the ring muscle-up easier in a way, but it’s also less stable, which means you’ll need to stabilise more with your muscles; in time and with practice you’ll get better at this!

The Transition in The Ring Muscle-Up

We’ll start off with the transition, since this is where we’ll learn about the most important skill for learning the ring muscle up, namely the false grip. False grip is when you’re wrapping your thumbs and hands around the rings, so you’ll be leaning on the base of the palm between your wrist and hand. This way you’ll be able to transition from the bottom to the top of the rings and like so perform a clean ring muscle up.

What is the “False Grip”?

You can practice and master the false grip by performing isometric holds in the bottom dead hang (turning your hands outwards), in the chin up position (having your elbows close together) and at the transition point itself (having the thumbs close to your chest and with your chin high above the bottom of the rings). Also you can try doing a negative ring muscle-up, getting down from the straight arm position on the top to the bottom dead hang as slowly as possible, keeping false grip the whole way down. 

What is the best timing?

You’ll also have to practice to get the timing right in the transition. When you’re at your highest in the chin up stage you’ll move your hands closely held to your body from your chest to the side of your ribs. To practice the actual technique or transition of the muscle up you can assist yourself in the movement by hanging the rings low and assisting in the movement by keeping your feet on the ground, the so called “baby muscle-up”. A more advanced version of this is the baby muscle-up with your feet on an elevated surface. You could also use an resistance band to assist you in the movement, before moving on to the real deal. You can do this with 1 band hanging on each ring, with your feet in the bands and having a straight body or you can be seated on 1 band. 

High chin up & dip

Besides mastering the false grip you’ll also need to practice high chin ups on the rings from all the way down to all the way up as high as possible in a controlled manner. It’s important to train full range of motion, since you want to keep the transition as short as possible, because this is the hardest part in performing the Ring Muscle-Up.

Next, it’s good to train dips (as well Full range of Motion; ROM) and go as low as possible to get strong in the bottom dip position; again to keep the transition as short as possible. It can also help to train the straight arm position on the top with the rings slightly away from the body and hang in active hang for holds; you can also do reps from dead hang to active hang and back. To build up proper core strength you can for instance practice a (tucked) l-sit on the top with straight arms, do a l-hang on the bottom or do leg raises (hanging or in chin up hold position).

Why the ring muscle up?

The ring muscle up is an impressive show of strength, stability and control. We are big fans of ring work and training with gymnastic rings is one of the best things you can do for your upper body. We would advice you to build up your reps and strength by doing Australian pull-ups or rows, doing plenty of chin-ups (preferably on the rings or monkey bar with the palms facing each other) and dips.

Don’t forget to do the isometric holds as mentioned before and always warm up before your training. Specifically take care of your wrists, elbows & shoulders. Get your heart rate up by using the our warm up methods as well! Don’t go for the ring muscle-up to soon and prep yourself well. We hope this tutorial helped you understand the ring muscle-up better and we wish you all the best with your training!

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