Check this out:

Why do CrossFitters so adore the Ring Muscle Up? 

The simplest answer I’ve come up with is… It’s difficult.  A ring muscle up is hard to do.  And CrossFitters are driven by challenge.  The ring muscle up is certainly challenging, but is it really functional?  If we define a functional exercise as a movement or movements that we (human beings) do in everyday life, is the ring muscle up functional?  Nope.  Not even.

So in a program (CrossFit) that always screams functional fitness is it’s foundation, why is the ring muscle up so everpresent?  Why is this one excercise so enticing to the newest of CF athletes.  Trainers new to CF push thier clients to learn it.  But those ring muscle ups are about as functional (again, I’m broadly defining functional as a movement we do in everyday life) as crunches on a stability ball or a bicep curl.  I heard Coach G. say the excercise has no real everyday application.  He says in a CF journal article about it that the reason we do the ring muscle up is that it’s the most difficult variation.  Yet, the ring muscle up is, at best, only a test.  A "man test" with bragging rights at worst

I am not saying it doesn’t have athletic, transferable skills.  The strength and coordination the ring muscle up requires is certainly qualifiable and quantitative.  Or in other words, one must have alot of upper body strength to do one.

Athletes and trainers new to CF find it an intrique because it’s new to them. Just like Fran or Murph, it’s something they’ve never done before.  But since the inexperienced trainer/athlete hasn’t learned how any of these excercises transfer into life, advanced sport performance, or tactical engagements they don’t quite understand that the ring mu isn’t that important to human performance.  The allure of the ring muscle up and the pursuit of the accomplishment is almost as addictive as CrossFit itself.  It’s almost like there’s another recipe of "Kool Aid" just for the muscle up! 

But seriously, the more functional variation of the muscle up is from the bar.  The most functional, and certainly just as difficult as from the rings, is on a ledge.  They’re more functional becuase we’re more likely to have to do muscle up over a fence, wall, or up onto a ledge than we are to randomly encounter a perfectly adjusted, taped, and spaced set of rings that we seriously need to negotiate a muscle up on in the real world.

So is there a difference?  Yes, there is a huge difference between the two types of ;muscle ups.  The difference is mostly in form and biomechanics.  On the rings, the transition from pull up to dip requires the elbows to stay close to the body and the hands to pass behind the chest.  On the bar/ledge, the elbows must flare out and the hands cannot pass behind the chest…  because the bar/ledge cannot.  On rings all force and effort can be exerted directly upwards.  However, on the bar/ledge variations, the torso has to gain forward momentum and get over and in front of the bar or the edge of the ledge.  Then you have to get your lower body up and over.  That’s a functional movement.  

So give both variations a try.  Just be careful not to get caught up with them.  And when you get your first one, you’ll be happy.  But then you’ll be a bit let down.  It’s not as difficult as you thought and the allurement will be gone.  Then you’ll realize, like I did, there are more important things we need to train.  Like everything, the muscle up is mostly technique.  – t.  


I love our monkey bars!

WOD:  "A little heavier than"  Heavy Fran. 

12 – 8 – 5 reps for time of…

  • Squat Thruster (m – 185lbs / f – 115lbs)
  • Weighted Pull Ups (m – 45lbs / f – 35lbs) 

Today’s WOD is a bit heavy and advanced.  For all our new members and those of you that haven’t done "Fran" yet, let’s do it today instead.

FRAN:  21 – 15 – 9 reps for time…

  • Squat Thruster (95/65)
  • Pull ups


0 thoughts on “Posted: 7/28/2008

  1. Zach says:

    This workout is going to be tough. But there is no doubt in my mind that CFW will be able to tear it up. Lets get it done!

  2. Jason Beninate says:

    after seeing today's sequence shot, i've come to conclude that tony is the missing link between monkeys and humans. keep on chimping! thanks for a fun week at crossfit while i was down this weekend. i sure do miss the wilmington environment where beasting it is a normal thing. and thanks for all your advice man. ya'll all be easy and keep being monsters. later.

  3. Justin says:

    The biggest thing with the muscle-up to me is that it's a really explosive movement. So, instead of just doing cleans and snatches, there's another movement that you have to do explosively in order to do. I think it's good to have in the mix. Oh and nice work Joel.

  4. the o says:

    who let fran get heavier…
    can't you talk to her about the zone or something tony…
    i curse fran and her big fat arse….!
    i'll see you at 2.00 with kellie O

  5. t. says:

    The MU post is all about direction and focus. Or putting things in perspective. Like I said in the post, the muscle up is more of a distraction from training than good training.

  6. Hamid says:

    Hats off to the guys/girls who did the "A little heavier than" heavy fran as prescribed. Good stuff. And Josh, Damn! Enough said.

  7. Hamid says:

    Hats off to the guys/girls who did the "A little heavier than" heavy fran as prescribed. Good stuff. And Josh, Damn! Enough said.

  8. Josh says:

    OK, Tony was making fun of me for saying the workout was a "booger". So I'm gonna try this again. This was one heck of a mutha friggin workout. Sorry, Emily and Nathan usually handle the cussing at our house. Zach man awesome job!! Great job to all our newbies getting in their first Fran and the new PR's recorded today.

  9. Sensei says:

    Awesome day at CFW!! It was an awe inspiring thing to watch Josh bust out that heavier FRAN!! Thank you for setting the bar even higher!

    Tony, Thank you for the MU article. When we doin that 100 burpees WOD?