Sunday, December 1, 2013

Jumping Muscle Ups - The Best Progression?

For many, the Ring Muscle Up is a coveted achievement.  As impressive as Snatching your own body weight is, there is just something about moving your body from below the rings to above.

Still trying to nail that muscle up on the rings?  We've got some advice that will get you closer.
The coveted Muscle Up.  Need help?  Read on.
Admittedly, I worked on my muscle up for about two months and when I finally got it years ago, you couldn't wipe the smile off my face.  But, I've gotta give credit where credit is due - Joe Celso of CrossFit Rochester.  While training them on my own for months, Joe took me the final steps and I've got him to thank.  Thanks Joe!

Prior to attempting a ring muscle up, I had 15 dead hang Pull Ups and 15 deep Ring Dips.  Jumping in to ring muscle ups without having enough pulling and pressing strength will probably leave you frustrated and quite possibly injured.

Even though I had good pulling and pressing strength, for me, the transition from the pull to the press [getting your upper body 'through' the rings] was the challenge.  I spent a good deal of time watching videos and reading Muscle Up tutorials. Many talked about kipping through the movement similar to the kip of a pull up.  Several also suggested that jumping Muscle Ups were a good progression until the proper strength and timing came.  The Jumping Muscle up was practiced with the rings set low enough so that your feet are low enough to spring you through the rings.  By jumping up and pulling at the same time, the transition from below the rings to above is easier.

Need help with the Ring Muscle Up?  Here's a few tricks.
Resistance Bands have a ton of uses.
The jumping movement builds confidence and does train the mechanics of the transition.  And although following that advice did eventually bring me success, something dawned on me the other day that is an even better approach.

As I mentioned, for me, that transition point was the sticky part.  Getting my upper body through the rings was challenging and multiple attempts started wearing on my joints.  Yes, the tutorials I read did tell me to keep my elbows in close to the body but as I fatigued they would 'float' out.  And your shoulders in that position are most susceptible to injury.

As for the 'Jumping Muscle Up' it seems to me that this approach fails to train the transition well.  It's almost an evasion of the movement.  Same goes for the strong kip.  Kicking the legs from nearly parallel to the floor to behind you does transfer a bunch of momentum to launch the body forward through the rings, but does it really strengthen the muscles involved in the transition?

Granted, learning the kip is not a mistake, nor are we shunning it as an acceptable method for the Ring Muscle Up, but here's an alternate method of training for that prize that trains and strengthens the transition and chances are you have everything you need right in your gym today.

Need a spotter for some of those difficult movements.  We'll show you how a squat rack can help.
The Squat Rack isn't just for Strength Training.  It's your spotter, too.
Enter the Squat Rack.  How can a squat rack help you, you ask?  Simple.

Here's the setup:
  • Hang the bottom of your gymnastics rings right at your outstretched finger tips. [Assuming you've got overhead clearance*]
  • Position the squat rack directly under the rings
  • Set your J-Cups at shoulder level to start
  • Our resistance bands stretch perfectly between the J-Cups.  Use that band as a platform for your feet or knees.
  • To increase the amount of assistance, either add bands or raise the level of the J-Cups.
  • Resist the urge to get too much help from the bands.  3-4 reps before failure is perfect.  If it's too easy then it's not going to strengthen you.  Just lower the J-Cups to a point where the 3rd or 4th rep is really challenging.

This method of help with the resistance bands is also great for Ring Dips and Pull Ups.  If you've got one of our Pull Up bars, position the squat rack underneath just as you would do with the stand alone rings.  If at a gym that has our Pull Up Rig, you can practice on pull ups, ring dips or bar muscle ups but standing in the squat station and stretching the bands between J-Cups there.  **Remember too that our J-Cups mount from either the inside or outside of the rig so put them wherever is the most comfortable.

*When in doubt of overhead clearance such as in a basement or garage, always test for headroom first by getting into the top of the Muscle Up position with assistance from a plyo box, bumpers, etc.  Once you've got the rings set so you won't hit your head, you're good to go.

Hammerhead Strength Equipment is an equipment manufacturer outfitting commercial facilities and garage gyms with functional fitness equipment throughout the US and beyond.