Are You Prepared For Ring Muscle Ups In The Open?

Technique drills so you can PR your muscle ups in the Open!

We are now just under 1 week from the 2018 CrossFit Games Open and there is a high probability we will be seeing ring muscle ups in one of the workouts this year. However, we don't know which week it will be announced, so it could either be one week away, or 6 weeks away. In either case, we should have a game plan!

The reality is that we are unlikely to make legitimate lat, bicep or tricep muscle gains in the next 1-5 weeks... It's just too short of a time frame to be breaking down muscle tissue and building it back up again. Fortunately, most of us actually already have the requisite muscle to do the movement, but are lacking the coordination and/or confidence to get over the rings - or for very many reps in a workout.

That being the case, here is some technique work that I'm recommending to some of my students that want to sharpen up their muscle ups before that first workout is announced! I hope you can get some use out of it.

Technique work to do if you currently have 1-3 ring muscle ups:

Strength-building session, done once per week
Do 2-3 sets of each, rotating through:

Performance-building session, done once per week
Do 6-8 sets, using a clock of:

  • 1 ring muscle up every minute if current unbroken ring muscle ups is 2 or more.
  • 1 ring muscle up every 2 minutes if current unbroken ring muscle ups is 1.

The idea here is that you have one session where you are focusing on the individual pieces of the ring muscle up and making them stronger. While the other session is about putting those pieces together, but in the form of single clean reps with plenty of rest between.

Technique work to do if you have 0 ring muscle ups:

Strength-building session, done twice per week
Do 2-3 sets of each, rotating through:

  • 3-5 reps of strict dips at slow to moderate speed.
  • 3-5 reps of strict or light kip high pull-ups on rings with neutral (not false grip) grip.
  • 3-5 reps of toe-assisted transitions with false grip.
  • Optional: Do 3-5 reps hip to ring kips (no false grip).

Since you don't have a muscle up yet, we can only focus on the individual pieces of the muscle up and making each of them stronger. Without knowing your individual strengths and weaknesses, I can't say whether your first muscle up will be kipping or strict, so it makes the most sense to train the strength of a strict muscle up, and then you can optionally do hip to ring kips to train the idea of doing a kipping ring muscle up. (IMPORTANT NOTE - False Grips are not to be used with kipping muscle ups as they can slip off the rings during the kip.)

Good general rules to follow:

- Ensure the movement quality is kept high. Execute full range of motion. For example, that means going all the way down to where you shoulders touch the rings on the dip, and full elbow lockout at the top. And,make sure to squeeze your belly in all movements.

- Don't overdo it! Each week could be the week they announce the muscle up workout, so pay attention to how your body is feeling and do NO MORE than what I have listed here. The extra work should take 15 minutes max.

- Stay positive and confident. It's super important to keep your head space clean of thoughts of negativity. Think positive thoughts and plan on getting your muscle up PR in The Open!

- Leave time for stretching. As a rule of thumb, anytime I introduce a new movement or protocol into my training, I know that I'll have some soreness and tightness if I don't stretch out those muscles. So, leave a little time after your training, or before you go to bed to stretch out the pecs, lats and wrists.


While it may seem that your time to prepare for ring muscle ups is over, it is most definitely not! By incorporating this little bit of technique work weekly, I can assure you that your coordination and confidence on the rings will improve and give you the best chances at making a muscle up PR in The Open. Remember, keep it fairly easy and focus on good movement. More is NOT better in this case, and make sure to keep them lats and pecs stretched out. Good luck!