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Training the Muscle-Up by Jeff Tucker - CrossFit Journal

Training the Muscle-Up

By Jeff Tucker

In Gymnastics/Tumbling, Videos

November 04, 2009

Video Article

Athletes who have been in that frustrating no man’s land between ring pull-up and ring dip have heard a multitude of cues shouted as they struggle through the transition with kicking legs and T-rex arms. Some cues are more helpful than others, and many athletes find themselves baffled by the instructions and completely frustrated by the muscle-up.

Jeff Tucker of GSX Athletics teaches the movement with athletes starting on their knees. That way they can self-spot with their legs while learning how to maintain the false grip and keep the rings close to the body throughout the movement—which will allow a smooth transition phase. By taking a violent kip out of the muscle-up during the early stages of learning, Tucker is encouraging muscles to remember proper mechanics that can be repeated over and over again.

“Get the strength to do this movement first,” he says. “This is training it as a strength/core-control movement.”

Tucker was head coach and director of Texas Christian University’s gymnastics/cheerleading programs from 2001 to 2006 and now conducts CrossFit’s Gymnastics Certifications.

Video by CrossFit by Overload.

10min 12sec

Additional reading: Ring Strength by Greg Glassman, published July 1, 2004.

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11 Comments on “Training the Muscle-Up”


wrote …

Jordan, Paula F*****CK Around- nice work. Great video, miss you guys.
Love from the South Land


wrote …

Is the progression to raise the rings step by step so that arms start out more extended?


wrote …

thanks for the knowledge TUCk!


wrote …

Joseph - it is to learn a way to scale it and self spot it once you realize you have a low ring dip. Once you do, you work it as a strict movement developing the muscle training and memory toward good form as a strict movement with no kip. To make it more difficult - as the transition becomes easier - you simply raise the rings making it more difficult - and an inch or two will go a long ways dependant on your strength levels and control of rings in the low dip transition to support.

It will also emphasis the strength required for a strict movement and gives scale and spot. It can allow for a scale for multiple movements for newbies or those who might have some injury from CF. But you must control the frictionless plane of the rings - have control of supports, etc...

Biggest point - it trans the transition of the upper body movement for a MU without subbing out pull ups and dips; which I feel do not really work toward a good sub for a MU. This transition allows you to scale and train the open and closed movements and low dip toward a MU.

There are ways to scale them and work them - our video chest in CF and other web sites will show you those methods as well.

make sense?



wrote …

This progression helped me get my first muscle up. I had decent ring dips, but couldn't get through the transition. After seeing Tucker's previous video on MU progressions (the one with Lauren), I started doing the knees/toes progression.

One day I had the rings up high and decided to do a false grip pullup. Without thinking about it, I pulled right through the transition and pressed out my first muscle up. All those knees/toes reps had built the muscle memory to get through the transition.

Thanks Tuck!


wrote …

Yes, thanks for the further explanation. I watched the video and was thinking the easiest "next step" after the start position shown in the video would be to raise the rings a bit. I have used one of your other methods - rubber band around knees/feet as well - will give this one a try next, thanks!


wrote …

Great work! Now, I'm off to lower my rings and give it a try.

Thank you,



wrote …

Thanks for the great video. I watched it at 7am, this morning, worked the progression at 9 and by 10 I got my first muscle up.


wrote …

Great training, looking forward to trying it out!


wrote …

Thanks so much for this video!
Turns out I needed only one hint to turn muscle up from agonizing to just another merely difficult exercise.


wrote …

Amazing video, just starting my gymnastics training... weird question on that video; anyone knows the name of the irish song that is heard at the intro? thanks a lot... tucker, great gymnastics stuff man!

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