Strict before Kipping - A Muscle Up Story

May 18, 2017

Let’s talk muscle ups. Everyone wants to be able to string them together, yet getting there safely (keyword) can take some time and discipline.  Luckily, I’m here to help. 

I’m a strong believer that first learning a strict muscle up is essential before you start stringing kipping muscle ups together. Not only does it prove that you’re strong enough to do a muscle up in the first place, it also proves that you have the right mechanics, and overall it’s simply a safer movement.

Not sure you are strong enough for a strict muscle up yet? Download my “Muscle Up Cheat Sheet” at and you can check to see if you are ready!

Let’s start at the very beginning - your grip.  In order to even do a muscle up, you have to know how to do a false grip.  A false grip is when you put the crook of your wrist (where it bends) over the top of the rings, with your hands draped over the bottom of the rings, knuckles over the top facing in.

So before we even get off the ground, it’s pretty important to practice this grip so that you become comfortable with it.

Step one of practicing is to hold a false grip while hanging onto a pull-up bar; so that your wrists fall across the top, but your hands aren’t actually wrapping around.

Step two is to hold a false grip on the rings, with your fists closed.  This will help to develop the false grip hold.  From there, wrap your thumbs around the rings, and holding that position in a dead hang.

Step three is to go from the hang, to doing false grip pull-ups.  Pull yourself up towards the rings, all the way to your sternum.  Not only is this great for becoming comfortable with the false grip itself, but also helps with that pulling strength.

Step four is to actually finish that muscle up. Go from the pull-up position, and throw your head and shoulders through the rings, finishing in a dip position and locking out.  A key here is to think ‘fast sit up’.

The transition can be the most difficult position of the muscle up, but if you’re able to start by simply mastering the false grip and pulling yourself up high on the rings, the movement will only continue to get easier.

Want another great drill to continue to work on strict muscle ups?  Thought so. Let’s talk about banded ring pull-downs (one of my favorites!)

For set-up, all you need are two rings (wooden are best) and one band.  Loop one ring through each end of the band, and throw the band over a pull-up rig, or any high up bar in the gym.  The rings should fall low enough so that you can grab them (in a false grip) and then sit down on the floor.

From that position (sitting) you move from arms being fully extended, to pulling the rings downwards, tight into your chest, and then aggressively transferring your head through with your chest falling slightly forward.

The more the band stretches in this drill, the more the tension increases, which means that while you’re in transition (the most difficult part of the muscle up) you have slightly more resistance (which is a good thing).

This is the exact same position that your body will have during a strict, suspended muscle up.

To step it up from here, you can make the band tighter (or use a thicker band) or if you need it a bit easier, try a band with less resistance.  Scale it however you need - this is why it’s a great drill for all levels.

And remember NOT to let go of the rings while you are sitting on the floor :)

The above drills are great starting points for you to achieve that first strict muscle up you’ve been seeking.  So what are you waiting for?! Get after it!

If you are interested in learning muscle ups once and for all, I have a FREE muscle up training course that I’d love to send you. Just go to and you’ll get the entire course (videos, PDFs, etc) directly to your email.

This is a guest post from Ben Dziwulski, the founder of WODprep. He is a former affiliate owner that specializes in teaching athletes in a simple, easy-to-understand way. Right now, he is traveling around the world with his wife and does 100% of his coaching online! For more instructional videos, tutorials, and free WODprep coaching check out and subscribe to his YouTube Channel, InstagramFacebook. Also, feel free to shoot him a personal email:

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