How to get that 1st strict muscle up…

One of the coolest gymnastic moves you get to learn through doing crossfit is a muscle up! Let’s be honest they look cool and people associate them with being strong. Yet most people look at them and think they will never achieve one.

You can! Trust me! With a bit of determination and the tips I am going to give you, you can achieve the elusive strict ring muscle up. 

1st things 1st

You need to build that strict strength first. Really develop your pull ups and dips on the rings. Keep working on these until you can perform 10 of each slow and controlled. For dips work on slowly dipping until your shoulders touch the ring and aggressively push up. Keep that hollow position (feet together and toes in front) throughout. For the pull ups work on pulling the rings into the middle of your chest (your sternum). See my instagram video to see them both in action








The False Grip


You can now pull up and dip for fun, but you need the false grip to get you into a better position to be over the rings and complete the transition from pull up to dip. So 1) karate chop the inside of the ring (not literally!) and grab the ring. 2) You now need to condition those wrists and get used to pulling in this position so try the following variations

  • False grip Ring rows
  • False grip dead hang
  • False grip pull ups

Once it feels comfortable and you can maintain the false grip throughout all movements it’s time to move on…

1st progression 

Now to get to the fun stuff – see my instagram for videos as they will be even clearer

MU pro1 1.png

Start so that your feet are underneath the rings and when you have your arms at full length your knees are bent – this will mean you are leant back somewhat.

Top left to top right – pull the rings (using a false grip) into the middle of your chest. Try to get your thumbs to touch and keep your elbows in

Bottom left – draw a vest with your thumbs, bringing them under your armpits again keeping your elbows in tight. NOTE – This should be aggressive and you want to push your head through. My head stays forward with chin down at all times

Bottom right – push up, keeping feet on the ground

MU pro1 2.png

On the way down:

Just repeat the same process in reverse. 1) lower onto rings so that thumbs are under armpits. 2) re-trace thumbs into the middle of your chest. 3) straighten arms and lower your body.

Keep repeating, focusing on keeping elbows tucked in and thumbs tight to the body.

Next progressions

MU pro2 2.png

MU pro2 3.png

We’re now going to make it progressively harder and harder until we make the full muscle up

Start sat in the floor as far back away from the rings as possible but so that you can still grab them with a false grip.


  1. Pull rings to the middle of your chest
  2. Get thumbs as close together as possible
  3. From here aggressively ‘sit up’ – pushing your head through
  4. Drawing a vest with your thumbs
  5. Keep elbows tight to the body
  6. Maintain false grip and hollow body position

MU pro2 4.png

We don’t need to include the dip/push up anymore. We are developing the strength in the transition.

To progress we move our hips closer and closer to the rings until we are directly underneath them.

Then we start increasing the height of the rings until we are at a point where we are barely touching the ground at the end of the transition, and if we were to push up we would come off the ground – DON’T push off the ground with your feet, keep legs straight and tense

The Muscle Up

Now all that’s left is to practice over and over and go for it! Do the whole damn thing!

The muscle up.png

You know the saying ‘nothing worth having comes easy’ – Not matter what stage you are at with pull ups and dips this is not going to be easy, but you will get there. AND if you do get there and become are pumping these out for fun then it is time to make tougher:

  • Do them super slow
  • Do them from l-sit on the floor (maintaining l-sit)
  • Do them weighted!

Those kipping muscle ups will seem a lot easier when you can do it strict!

Enjoy – and go get that 1st strict muscle up!


11 thoughts on “How to get that 1st strict muscle up…

    1. Thanks. Have you got strict muscle ups yet? I haven’t put them up on YouTube yet unfortunately. But thanks, might be better to do that in future


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