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The Muscle-up by Greg Glassman - CrossFit Journal

The Muscle-up

By Greg Glassman

In Exercises, Reference

November 01, 2002

PDF Article

The muscle-up is astonishingly difficult to perform but unrivaled in building upper body strength, writes Coach Greg Glassman.

The muscle-up gets you from under things to on them. It can be a critical survival skill. We do our muscle-ups from rings chiefly because that’s the hardest place possible.

From a normal grip, roll the meat of the hand over the ring, leaving the thumb on the starting side until the wrist opposite the thumb is in full contact with the ring. This is a false grip. It shortens the forearm, greatly improving strength. The false grip is difficult simply because it’s a sufficiently odd feeling that the beginner rarely believes is what’s expected. No false grip, no muscle-up. When an athlete can’t get it, 50% of the time they’ve got too much hand on the thumb’s side of the ring.

Assuming the grip is O.K., a common barrier to the muscle-up Is not being strong enough. Here’s the litmus: if you can do fifteen good pull-ups and fifteen good dips, then you’re strong enough. If you can’t, work your pull-ups and dips overtime until you can do the muscle-up.

If you can do the pull-ups and dips, your grip is good (you’re getting bruised wrists) and you’re still unable to get above rings, then you’re either letting the rings wander away from your body or you aren’t trying hard enough.

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8 Comments on “The Muscle-up”


wrote …

Very insightful article. I received my rings about a month ago and haven't come close to a muscle-up...yet. But, now that I've got some specific information, I feel more confident that it won't be much longer!


wrote …

After a month of trying, I cranked out my first, then first successive (2) muscle-ups just hours after reading this article and on my first attempt. I believe the key for me was to just keep straining to push through the transition, rather than giving up when it didn't come quickly. Thanks Coach.


wrote …

It is hard to imagine this "impossible" task is so fundamental and easy for the gymnastic community. This move was introduced as the "mother of all excercises" by my coach and mentor George. One of my first CF workouts was the sub for the 30 MU. Doing the 120 Dips and 120 Pull ups was painful and sobering.
I appreciate the articles specific coaching and tips now that I have rings in the garage. My goal is to be able to do the 30 MU by the end of the year.


Matt Hunt wrote …

Really great video of Eva T. in the beach bikini muscle-up.

Regarding the article on muscle-ups it was helpful in actually practicing it. First I learned how to "kip" into one and then after 2 months of kipping, learned how to slowly go into one. What a thrill it was. Now I can only 2 in a row, but at least I can say "I'm part of the Club".

At 46 years of age I want to thank Coach Glassman and the CrossFit Community.

From a psycological viewpoint...I cannot tell you how "badass" I feel at my age to be able to do the things with my body that I could not at age 40, age 30, or even at 20...not only that, I'm able to smoke younger guys at many exercise combinations. What a Confidence builder CrossFit has become for me. And if it works for an "old-fart" (but still extremely handsome) individual like me, imagine what it can do for you?


Tommy Marshman wrote …

got my rings today. dicked around on them for about half an hour and came close to nothing that resembled a muscle up. They will be mine...they will be mine!


wrote …

Got my 1st Ring Muscle-up today!


wrote …

WOW That muscle up is a bad boy,I'm 230lbs a little bigger than the averge CrossFiter,I've done one and working on doing them back to back,I wish me luck
Dennis Montgomery


wrote …

Great article! I agree with everything except for the purpose of the false grip. It is essential, don't get me wrong, but in gymnastics we are taught that the main purpose for a false grip is that it positions your wrists on top of the ring. Making it possible to transition to support. It serves no other real purpose other than to create a fulcrum point.

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