How to get your first Ring Muscle up

The Ring Muscle up is the first calisthenics exercise that many of us see and aspire to. To the untrained eye it looks easy, then you try do one and for many the mission ends there. They are difficult, but are they too difficult for you?


I have extolled the virtues of calisthenics many times now. The Muscle up really encapsulates those ideals in exercise form. You need to do many things to get your Muscle up.

You need to practise and train your body, to develop technique , to respect your body and understand its limitations and need for recovery.

This exercise is a fantastic upper body work out, just using your bodyweight, yet many people who try to do it, will never succeed. The Muscle up will certainly question how much you want it, and how much you can push yourself to ACHIEVE.

False grip

The False grip is where you must start. Its the easiest bit to learn, but its uncomfortable. The journey starts here and its the first hurdle which leaves many to stop trying, right off the bat. I honestly think, for all the people that watch youtube and instagram and want to do Muscle Ups, 1% actually make it to the holy grail at the end. I would say 40% stop trying because they dont practice the false grip.

Scap Pulls

This is the first exercise that develops your false grip by applying weight to it, and it develops your scapula strength. If you have been doing calisthenics properly and building a balanced body, this really is no problem at all.

Its also a great exercise to use as a Warm up, before any rings routine.

Pull phase

I see many so called teachers of calisthenics saying you need to do 15 pull ups etc, etc to get a Muscle up. LOL. This is utter nonsense.

Most of these guys are just copying what someone else said as its complete garbage. Doing 15 or even 20 pull ups doesnt help at all and has no correlation to you doing a muscle up, or having the pulling power too.

You need 1 explosive pull up to get a muscle up. You dont need endurance , you need power.

You need to engage your scapula , look up and pull yourself above the rings.

Most of these attributes are not present in a set of 10-20 pull ups.

So drop the reps, increase the load and learn to explode over the bar.


You learn transition in the Mini Muscle up. I once taught someone how to do a Muscle up, explaining in great detail how the Mini Muscle up would be the cornerstone of his training to learn the technique and develop flexibility, strength, co ordination and connective tissue.

A few weeks later, when we were doing Muscle Ups, he asked me to push him up over the rings so he could do a Muscle Up. LOL. I asked him if he had practised the Mini Muscle up I had taught him and you know the answer dont you.

If you want to be able to do impressive things, and you have people teaching you for free, show respect to the sport and skill you are being taught and put in the hard work and PRACTICE. Practice , practice, practice.

Dip phase

The dip phase can also be practised from the Mini Muscle up, and this is my preferred way to learn this for the muscle up.

Repping out dips, leads to poor technique and reduced range of movement. And with the Muscle up, you need an extra deep dip, with huge shoulder extension. You can understand this by doing a dip thru a Mini Muscle up cycle.

Now many beginners will run into trouble with dips and injure themselves.

Keep your arms close to your body and when you are getting tired stop and rest. Because rings are unstable, if you dont stick to these principles, you can get injured.

Stretch your biceps tendon before you do these deep dips. Yes, the long head tendon, runs through your shoulder and inserts into your scapula and is the commonest cause of shoulder pain from dips.

Final Tips

The excitement to do a Muscle up can often lead to injury, so you need to think about your body and learn how to manage it.

You need to condition your ligaments, tendons and connective tissues. You need to Warm Up and Stretch. It constantly amazes me, how young people do not stretch, yet you see 20 year old Multi million dollar athletes stretching before they play NFL, NBA etc. Yes, stop being lazy and stretch, warm up and recover. If you look after your body, you will dramatically improve performance.

When you finally unlock your Muscle up, you will realise the foundation you built it on must be solid. Muscle ups will really test your body to the limits so you need to have prepared your body, so you can perform it without getting injured. If you can, it will be an exercise that will give you a fantastic body and impressive functional strength.

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