The very first step in attempting a strict ring muscle up is grabbing the rings with the false grip technique. This technique is where you bend your wrist to roughly 90 degrees, placing the heel of your hand over the top of the center of the rings and then maintaining that wrist/hand position while under the load of your bodyweight (see Figure 1 below). This is a very challenging maneuver for a lot of beginners because they haven't yet developed the necessary strength in their forearms to hold the position. Even CrossFitters who are frequently grabbing heavy barbells and doing toes to bars and pull-ups, will still find that those grip intensive movements don't translate well to the extreme wrist flexed position that the false grip technique requires. In order to build strength in the false grip we must: 1) make sure we understand how to hold the false grip correctly and 2) put the false grip technique to use in our training on a regular basis.
Applying a correct false grip
We developed False Grips to help athletes do the false grip technique correctly. False Grips easily clip onto your standard pair of gymnastic rings and provide a platform area over the center of the ring where your false grip gets applied. This increased surface area allows you to spread the load across more of the hand versus relying on the bony portion of the wrist that often feels uncomfortable and gets torn while training. Additionally, False Grips have the ability to attach a light pull-up assistance band so you can do any number of holds and drills while using a false grip technique. This is particularly important for beginners with very weak grip as they will tend to grab the rings too high (see Figure 2) or fall out of the false grip position and end up too low on the rings (see Figure 3).
The pictures below show how to correctly and incorrectly hold the false grip technique using the False Grips.
(Figure 1) Correct false grip
The above picture shows the correct placement of hands in the false grip technique. You can see that the heel of the hand is placed on the top of the False Grips while the wrist is bent nearly 90 degrees and remains at the side of the rings. The fingers and thumbs wrap around the grips/rings and grab onto whatever feels comfortable. Chalk is recommended to keep your hands dry and maintain the best grip.
(Figure 2) Incorrect - too high
(Figure 3) Incorrect - too low
The two pictures above show how an inexperienced athlete will often grab the rings. Putting your wrist too far over the edge of the False Grips will create a gap between your hand and the top of the grips and put unnecessary pressure on the wrist as your weight is applied downward. This position will feel very uncomfortable and be very unstable. The bottom picture shows the heel of the hand NOT on the top of the False Grips which will cause you to not have the necessary leverage to transition from below to above the rings.
Training the false grip
Once we've learned how to correctly apply the false grip technique, we must use it in our training on a consistent basis in order to build strength. Here are my favorite exercises that can be done alone, together and/or substituted in place of similar exercises in your workouts to get a stronger false grip.
False grip exercises:
Static false grip holds in ring row position
Vertical hang with feet support
Vertical hang with no support
False Grip ring rows
False Grip ring pull-ups
And, False Grip muscle ups
It's important to emphasize that while doing any of the above exercises, we must use the false grip correctly! Again, our patent-pending False Grips enhance your ability to hold the false grip correctly, strengthen the forearm muscles responsible for the grip and do all of your drills with less discomfort and torn skin off your wrists. Training should be done consistently for 2-3 weeks at a minimum to see improvements in false grip strength. Once forearm strength is built, it is very easy to transition to training on the rings without the False Grips.
I hope this article helps you with your strict muscle up training. Another positive note to keep in mind is that while grabbing barbells and pull-up bars doesn't help much in strengthening the false grip technique, the opposite is very true. False grip training will ABSOLUTELY strengthen your grip on barbells and pull-up bars. I increased my overhand (no hook) grip deadlift by 20 pounds in just a few weeks, as well as my free-standing handstand hold to one minute and fifteen seconds. I am positive you will see similar results using False Grips!