Strict Muscle-Up Progression
Written by Cat Blatner
The ability to execute a strict muscle-up is by no means a simple task. It requires flexibility as well as a great amount of strength in both your ability to pull and your ability to press out of a very deep ring dip. If you aren’t quite to your goal of achieving a strict muscle-up, this is the blog for you!
First Things First…
First let’s talk about our pulling and pressing ability. If you are still struggling with strict movements such as pull-ups and ring dips, it should be your priority to work towards strengthening these two areas before moving on to strict muscle-ups. You should be able to string a minimum of 5-7 strict chest-to-bar pull-ups together. This means that the bar is coming in contact with your chest at the very least right below your collarbone. The deeper the better when talking about a contact point on chest-to-bar pull-ups. Next make sure you are confident with your dipping skills. You should be confident stringing 5-7 strict ring dips together at a time. However, a strict muscle-up will at times put you in a deeper dip position than a regular ring dip and therefore make sure you have practiced dipping in such a position.
The deep dip that I keep referring to is when, at the bottom of your dip, the rings are right next to your pecs and shoulders are just below the top of the rings. This is a difficult position to dip out of and must be accomplished before the strict muscle-up can be performed.
Negative Muscle-up Progression
After you have successfully trained to become efficient with both your strict dips and pull-ups, it’s time to talk about that strict muscle-up. One of my favorite tools to use for some athletes to strengthen their strict gymnastics movements is to teach the negative version of that movement. For example, when training the strict handstand push-up, athletes will often use a slow negative strict handstand push-up as a strengthening tool. This can hold true when training the strict muscle-up as well. I would like to introduce you to the negative muscle-up progression.
Step 1: Ring Support
First, start in a ring support position. While in that ring support your elbows should be fully extended and tucked in close to your body. Think about bringing your pinkies to your pockets and slightly turning your rings out so your thumbs are pointing away from your body as seen below.
You can choose to use high rings and have a box to assist you to the top, or utilize a set of lower rings and make them high enough so your feet don’t slide across the ground as you work through this movement.
Step 2: The Dip
Next you will perform a negative ring dip. Slowly lower yourself to the bottom of your deep dip position. This should be slow and controlled with at least a 3-5 second count from the top of your dip to the bottom of your dip. Once you are in the deep dip position, hold for a second or two before working through the transition.
Step 3: The Transition
Ok, here’s the tricky part – the transition. Many people will have a hard time during this phase of the muscle-up progression at first. It takes a lot of control but mastering this piece will bring everything together. After your dip, you will keep your thumbs tucked nice and close to your chest. Start to slowly let your body slide back and out of that dip position. As you do so the big fight will be keeping the rings close to your chest and your elbows in a tight bent position.
Step 4: Negative Pull-Up
At this point you will be in a chest-to-ring hanging position. Try to hold this for a minimum for 2-3 seconds before slowly lowering yourself away from the rings. Just like that eccentric dip that we performed earlier in the muscle-up progression, it should take you 3-5 seconds to lower yourself to a full hanging position.
When training the negative muscle-ups, it is not recommended that you use these when doing high volume work as that can be dangerous with any movement with such high time under tension. Remember that every muscle-up negative must be performed with control and take about 10-15 seconds if performed correctly. I would recommend keeping your set/rep counts to around 3×3 or 5×3. Enjoy!