The muscle-up is a great upper-body movement to develop strength, flexibility and coordination on the gymnastics rings. Although it can sometimes be very challenging to acquire the strength and the skill to perform the muscle-up, it’s actually a beginner-level move for male gymnasts. In fact, they just call it “getting on the rings”!
In the muscle-up, the athlete will go from a hanging position beneath the rings to a position of locked-out support above. Think of it as getting up and out of a pool … without the buoyancy of the water to assist you and with the concrete deck replaced by a shifting pair of rings. Nevertheless, the ring muscle-up provides a unique stimulus and builds a ton of athleticism.
Starting Position: Hang a pair of gymnastics rings at about the height of an outstretched arm overhead. Place your hands on the rings, establish a false grip and assume a hanging position.
A false grip provides more leverage and essentially means that you are holding the rings right in the crook of the wrists, not in the fingers. To set it, place your wrists on the rings, then wrap the thumb and fingers around the ring, keeping your wrists bent. Flex your forearms to hold it tight.
1. Keeping your knuckles together and hands in close, lean back slightly and pull your hands down to your sternum.
2. Once your hands are at sternum height, shoot your head forward and through your arms, positioning your shoulders above your hands while driving your elbows back. You are now at the bottom of the deepest dip you have ever done. Keep your hands in tight the entire time.
3. Press out of the dip to a locked-out support above the rings to finish the movement. Lower yourself back down to a hang in a controlled fashion.
Most people struggle with either the skill or the strength requirement of this movement. If you’re struggling with the skill, practice holding the false grip and rehearse the transition (keeping the hands in tight and getting the head through fast). If strength is the issue, work pull-ups and dips to build up baseline strength.