Learning how to do ring muscle ups can be a momentous challenge if you do not have the right guidance.
Being one of the most difficult exercises in the world, many people have tried and failed countless times to perform just one rep.
Fortunately, there is a method that can allow you to do ring muscle ups much quicker and easier, and we are going to tell you all about it in this article.
The Muscle-Up at a Glance
The muscle up is a strength movement that involves pulling oneself up and above a bar or rings, pushing upwards by doing a dip, and then returning back to the starting position to reset.
This is somewhat of an advanced movement, and you shouldn’t really worry about getting it if you have only just started working out.
Regular muscle ups require a ton of strength and specified training, and doing them on rings takes things to a whole new level.
However, ring muscle ups are incredible at developing strength and size.
Take a look at the triceps of any male gymnast if you need proof of this – most of them look like amateur bodybuilders.
The ring muscle up is an excellent exercise that requires strength, technique, coordination, and balance, and once you master it, you will be able to both build muscle and impress your friends at the same time.
Ring Muscle Up Tutorial
1. Grab The Rings with a False Grip (Push Your Hands into the Ring So Your Wrist is Flexed)
The first step to performing a ring muscle up is to grab the rings with a false grip.
This involves gripping the rings with your hands and pushing them into the rings so that your wrists are flexed.
The false grip allows you to transition smoothly from the pull-up to the dip phase of the muscle up.
2. Pull Yourself Up
Begin by pulling yourself up towards the rings using your upper body strength. Keep your elbows close to your body and use the false grip to help you transition from the pull-up to the dip phase.
3. Bring Your Body Above The Rings By Moving Your Shoulders Over Your Hands
Once you’ve pulled yourself up, shift your shoulders over the rings and lean your body forward to move your torso above the rings.
4. Press Yourself into the Support Position
Use your triceps and chest muscles to push yourself up into the support position with your arms fully extended.
Keep your shoulders down and engage your core to maintain stability.
5. Dip Back Down and Return to the Starting Position
Lower yourself down by bending your elbows and leaning forward. Return to the starting position with your arms extended and your shoulders down.
Ring MU Strict or Kipping?
One thing that you are undoubtedly going to ask yourself when trying to perform ring muscle ups is whether or not you should use kipping.
Kipping simply refers to using momentum throughout the movement, instead of solely relying on technique and strength.
This is something we will touch on more in-depth later on in this article, but when you are first starting out, it is perfectly okay to use kipping just to get a feel for the movement.
In fact, at first, this is even recommended.
However, as you progress, you need to focus on eliminating kipping altogether.
Kipping is bad for a few reasons, and you do not want to rely on kipping to do muscle ups.
Bar Muscle Ups For Beginners: How To Get Your First
The Ring MU Progressions
The first aspect you need to focus on is building pressing strength.
The pressing section of ring muscle ups is the most difficult part of the entire thing, so the stronger you are at pressing, the easier performing ring muscle ups will be.
To develop pressing strength, your best bet is to do tricep dips on two parallel bars or handles.
While you can build your pressing strength through other methods, such as by performing the bench press or skullcrushers, tricep dips will have the best crossover to the muscle up – it is quite literally a core part of the movement.
Before you even think about performing ring muscle ups, you need to develop strong triceps through pressing.
Next, you need to practise pulling.
This will help you with the first section of the movement, and it will also develop strength in your back and shoulders.
To develop pulling, you should focus on performing pull-ups.
Bonus points if you do pullups on rings, but this is not required.
Pulling is an essential component to the muscle up, and unless you develop a decent base of strength, you will not have the required strength to pull yourself up consistently.
Kipping swing and pull
While you are building up pressing and pulling strength, you will want to start practising the ring muscle up.
However, you do not want to try and do a full ring muscle up straight away – you need to start out with a select portion of the movement and master it.
To start with, you want to begin practising the kipping swing and pull.
This means using momentum to pull yourself to and above the rings so you can get a feel for how the movement works.
However, it is important to remember that this is only a training exercise.
You do not want to rely on kipping to perform muscle ups – it is just an easier variation that can allow you to get a feel for the movement.
The transition is often the part where people struggle the most with ring muscle ups.
The transition requires a ton of strength, control, and technique, and it is something that you are not going to be able to push through using brute strength alone.
This is why you need to practise the transition. A lot.
While it can feel pointless trying and failing over and over again, we would encourage you to simply try and do the transition as much as possible.
Not only are you building strength while doing this, but you are also building the necessary motor patterns that your body needs to perform this movement correctly.
You might fail a thousand times before you finally perform the transition correctly, but once you do it once, everything will begin to fall into place.
One of the best ways to hone in on the transition is to practise Russian dips.
These dips mimic the top portion of the movement, and they require superior strength and control than regular dips.
By practising Russian dips, you can develop the strength and technique you need to perform the transition.
Ring Muscle Up Progression: False Grip
Another aspect that you should master when trying to perform muscle ups is the false grip.
The false grip can make performing muscle ups so much easier as it requires less muscle and strength than the regular grip, so it is a good choice to go with when first starting out.
For the time being, only practise muscle ups with the false grip.
The false grip can feel a little uncomfortable or strange at first, but once you have done it enough times, it will become second nature.
Bringing it all together
Once you have progressed through all of the points we mentioned above, the next ring muscle up scale is to bring it all together and start trying to perform full muscle ups.
Feel free to kip a little when first starting just to get the swing of things, but make sure you do not rely on kipping to perform muscle ups.
Repetition is key here.
The more attempts you have at performing a muscle up, the better your chances of success.
Strict Ring Muscle Up Drills
The last progression before moving on to the real thing is to practise strict muscle up drills.
This can be done by simply trying the exercise over and over again to develop technique and focusing on specific points of the exercise to bring up weak points.
Don’t give up if getting the strict ring muscle up takes a while.
It could take months or even years of practice depending on your current strength level.
However, the more you practice, the quicker it will come.
What’s the Best Grip? Regular or False Grip
Truth be told; there is no best grip type.
Both the regular and ring muscle up false grip are perfectly valid, and depending on what you prefer, either one could be right for you.
However, it is worth mentioning that the false grip often makes performing muscle ups much easier.
You are in a much more advantageous position with the false grip, and you do not require as much strength to perform the muscle up as you would with the regular grip.
This makes the false grip an excellent choice when first beginning the movement, and then if you want to switch to the regular grip once you have things nailed, then you can do so at will.
Skip the Kip: Why We Prefer the Strict Rings Muscle-Up Over the Kipping Muscle-Up
Safer on the Joints
One of the main reasons why strict ring muscle ups are superior to kipping muscle ups is that they are much safer on the joints.
With kipping muscle ups, you are performing an exercise that your muscles and joints are not yet strong enough to handle.
That goes without even mentioning the lack of control you have over the movement – momentum is the only thing getting you where you want to be.
Strict muscle ups, on the other hand, require you to develop all of your muscles, tendons, and joints in order to perform it, and you have much more control over the actual movement.
This makes strict muscle ups much safer overall, and the chances of you becoming injured while performing strict muscle ups will be much lower than performing kipping muscle ups.
Gives You Better Control Over the Forces
Another reason why strict ring muscle ups are better than kipping muscle ups is because they just develop overall muscle mass and strength.
If you want to get better at flopping on top of some rings then be our guest.
However, if you want to develop incredible strength and perform an exercise that will leave most onlookers in awe, then the strict muscle up will be better for you.
Sure, kipping muscle ups may develop some strength, and we are certainly not saying you shouldn’t do them at all (they can be great when first learning the movement).
But in the long run, you want to avoid kipping pull muscle ups at all costs.
What if You’re Stuck? Here’s How to Push Through Plateaus with the Muscle-Up
Build Full-Body Strength the Smart Way
If you are experiencing a plateau on the muscle up, the best fix is to develop more full body strength.
Muscle ups incorporate a ton of different muscles, much more so than just the shoulders, triceps, and back.
While these may be the main muscles, other muscles are also used to assist and support, and this is why developing full body strength is a good idea if you are stuck.
To do this, you just need to follow a good muscle-building routine.
It doesn’t matter if you do this through calisthenics or at the gym – as long as you are focusing on progressive overload, you can’t go wrong.
Make sure you include exercises that hit muscles all over your body, such as push ups, tricep dips, pullups, and planks or leg raises.
You should also include a few exercises to hit your legs too, but developing your legs is not likely going to have an effect on your performance with muscle ups.
While having full-body strength is good for muscle ups, the two muscles that are going to have the most impact are back and triceps.
This means that if you want to perform muscle ups with ease, these are the two areas that you will want to focus the majority of your time and effort on.
To build your back, you will want to prioritise pullups, eventually moving onto weighted pull ups once you develop the strength.
For triceps, you should do weighted tricep dips.
These two movements not only build the most important muscle groups for ring muscle ups, but they are also used within the muscle up itself, meaning you will be able to develop the technique for muscle ups while also building up muscle.
Work on Ring Muscle Ups Without Rings!
Unless you have a place where you can practise ring pullups near your house or belong to a calisthenics gym, it may be difficult to practise doing ring muscle ups on a regular basis.
This can be detrimental when it comes to ring muscle ups, as the specificity, technique, and balance they require means you need to practise the actual movement to fully master it.
Luckily, you can still work on ring muscle ups even without rings.
By simply practicing good form on pullups and tricep dips, you will be able to gain the necessary strength to perform ring muscle ups without ever even touching the rings!
Of course, you will still need to practise ring muscle ups to develop the technique, but you will be able to get them much faster if you build the required strength at home.
Strict Ring Muscle Ups: The Missing Piece
There is a “secret” when it comes to performing strict ring muscle ups that is not talked about all too often; time.
We know we know, so original.
But it’s just the truth.
Strict ring muscle ups are not like regular exercises.
You cannot just brute force a strict ring muscle up.
This exercise requires specific training and specificity in order to perform, and you cannot expect to perform a strict ring muscle up if you have not been training for it specifically.
Even if you have a ton of muscle and strength from years of strength training, the balance and technique required for ring muscle ups will humble even the strongest of individuals.
So, if you have been trying to perform a strict muscle up for some time and are worried that you will never get it, don’t give up.
In all likelihood, you may already have the strength to perform the exercise; you just don’t have the technique down (this just comes with time).
How to do Ring Muscle Ups – FAQs
How Hard is it to Do a Ring Muscle Up?
It can be quite hard to do a ring muscle up.
This exercise is quite advanced, and it can take months of training for an untrained individual to perform a ring muscle up.
What are The Differences between a Ring Muscle Up and a Bar Muscle Up?
When it comes to the ring muscle up vs bar muscle up, the main difference is that ring muscle ups require more specificity and balance.
Are Ring Muscle Ups Good?
Yes, ring muscle ups are good for building strength and size.
They are a compound movement that works many muscles in the back, triceps, and shoulders.
What is a Good Ring Muscle Up Alternative?
A good ring muscle up alternative is regular pullups or ring pullups.
If you pair these exercises with a tricep dip, you will be working all the same muscles as ring muscle ups.
How Long Does It Take to Learn to Do Ring Muscle Ups?
The time it takes to learn to do ring muscle ups varies greatly depending on your current strength.
If you are new to calisthenics or working out, it could take you a few months to a year to perform a ring muscle up.
If you have already built up a strong base, then you could master the ring muscle up within a few weeks.
What Exercises Help Ring Muscle Ups?
Some exercises that can help ring muscle ups are tricep dips, pullups, and ring pull ups.
What Are The Ring Muscle Up Benefits?
A few of the most noticeable ring muscle up benefits are improved muscle strength and size as well as being an impressive exercise to impress on-lookers.
Ring muscle ups require a ton of specificity and strength, meaning most people look at people who can do ring muscle ups in awe when done in person.
We hope we have been able to help you perform your first muscle up!
No matter which way you spin it, performing a muscle up is going to take some time and effort.
However, if you follow the ring muscle up progression for beginners we featured in this article, you will slowly but surely build your way up to mastering to ring muscle up.
If you would like more advice on how to do ring muscle ups or just want more fitness content in general, make sure to check out MovingForwards for more useful articles.