The Strict Ring Muscle up

In CrossFit, the Strict Ring Muscle up has become popular only in recent years after it appeared in the 2016 Regionals. For the high repetition common in CrossFit workouts, the faster Kipping-Muscle up is actually the optimal choice, but more and more athletes regularly integrate the strict version into their training. Among gymnasts, the Strict Ring Muscle up has always been considered an effective tool to build up strength.


The Strict Ring Muscle up is a pure strength exercise that combines a pull up with a dip. Thus, muscles involved in the pulling movement – mainly latissimus and biceps - are strengthened as well as the shoulder, pectoral and the triceps that perform the push movement.

The Strict Muscle up in the rings also requires stabilizing the movable rings, so that even small muscles such as the shoulder rotators are strengthened. The exercise contributes to shoulder health. Therefore, it´s worth for everyone to learn the Strict Muscle up – let´s start to put in some effort!


How strong do you have to be for the Strict Ring Muscle up?

The Strict Ring Muscle up is not quite beginner friendly. Which gymnastic skills and numbers must be achieved in order to have chances of success differs individually since power deficits can often be compensated by good coordination. As a rule of thumb you could consider the following figures:

  • 8 strict Ring Pull ups
  • 10 strict Ring Dips

If you hit that, you should be good to go - strength wise. The training should then focus on the "transition" between the Pull up and the Dip and: the correct grip. See below.


The Falsegrip

The key to the Strict Ring Muscle up lies in the Falsegrip. The Falsegrip is the only grip that provides the optimal lever for both the pulling portion and the Dip. It is not suitable for the Kipping Muscle up since it limits the mobility of the shoulder joint. For the strict version, the Falsegrip is essential.

Here's how it works: Put your wrists in the rings. Imagine the rings as a clock - you put the right joint at 7 o'clock, the left at 5 o'clock. Now close your fingers around the rings so that the knuckles are facing each other.

The Falsegrip initially feels very uncomfortable. Get used to the grip by simply hanging from the rings 10 to 15 seconds using the Falsegrip. Increase that duration step by step. Once you can hold for at least 40 seconds, your wrists and forearms should be strong enough.


Strict Ring Muscle up progressions

As with any complex bodyweight exercise, the Strict Ring Muscle Up has various progressions from simple to challenging, so training can be started at any level.

Here are some ideas for the Strict Muscle up Progressionen:

Ring-C2B with Falsegrip

A simple drill for those who have a strong dip but lacking pulling strength: Perform as many Strict C2B Pull ups in the rings as possible. Pull yourself as high as possible - the closer you bring the rings to the bottom of your chest, the easier the transition will be.

Be sure to use the Falsegrip to get used to it, and focus on pulling the rings towards your sternum. The Chest2Bar pull-ups can be done with additional weight or made difficult by a short pause at the highest point of the movement.

Transition-Drill from the Knees

Place a pair of Gym Rings shoulder width and at chest height. Put your feet directly under the rings and kneel down while your toe tips remain on the floor. Grab the rings – remember the Falsegrip! - and start with both arms fully extended.

Now pull yourself up and bring the rings to the sternum. From here, drop yourself into the dip by pushing your shoulders in front of the rings. From here, do the Ring Dip.

Seated Transition Drill

Knot a powerband with low (!) resistance between two rings. Lay the band over a Pull up bar so that there is a ring on each side of the bar.

Sit directly under the bar. The rings should be at a height where you can just grab them with the arms fully extended. From here, pull the rings towards your sternum and then bring your shoulders in front of the rings, so that you find yourself in a seated, deep ring dip.