Muscle-ups on Rings

Last year, I posted a muscle-up tutorial that explained how to perform the muscle-up on a pull-up bar. Since then, several people have inquired about learning to perform this skill on gymnastics rings.

Performing muscle-ups on rings may at first seem a lot harder to someone who is used to doing the exercise on a bar, but once one acclimates to the subtle differences in technique, the disparity should balance out.

Why Do the Rings Seem Harder?

The main difference between the bar and the rings is that the rings add a stability component. The other big difference is that because the rings are not in a fixed position, they allow you to rotate your wrists as you pull yourself up and over. While this may seem like an added challenge at first, the rotation actually makes the move less difficult.

The False Grip
While utilizing a false grip to perform a muscle-up on a bar is helpful, using the false grip to muscle-up on rings is essential.

A false grip involves cocking your wrist and putting your hand through the ring, so that the tip of your ulna (the bottom bone in your forearm) is in contact with the ring. This will likely feel uncomfortable at first. (You may get some bruising on your wrists, consider using wraps if it is an issue.)

The Technique

As you pull yourself up, think about bringing the rings towards your armpits and reaching your legs forward. Once the rings are below your shoulders, begin pushing your chest and shoulders in front of your hands while rotating your wrists so your knuckles wind up pointing towards the ground. From there, simply press yourself up, just like you would if you were doing a dip.

Watch the video below for more:

Thanks to Nimble Fitness for letting me shoot in their facility.

15 thoughts on “Muscle-ups on Rings

  • Pingback: Al Kavadlo – We're Working Out! » Muscle-Ups!!

  • By jeffdf -

    That's a big ole “holy crap” from me but it's duly noted on my goal list: pull-ups, muscle ups, muscleups on RINGS! False grips here I come…

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks, Jeff. Once you get better at pull-ups then we can start talking about muscle-ups. It's a good long term goal. 🙂

  • By John Danforth -

    Awesome! I have a set of rings and will continue to put the work in and hopefully I'll get a muscle up under my belt by the end of the year. I'll use this post as a guide.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    That sounds like a reasonable time line. Can you get an L-sit pull-up yet?

  • By John Danforth -

    Al, I've been doing L-sit pull ups on the bar and some L-sit static holds on the rings. I just started working on ring dips and have yet to try any ring pull-ups so I know I have a ways to go but I'm gonna set the goal for the end of the year but if I don't make it I'll shoot for early in 2011. I was happy to see this info on the rings since my bar is too close to the ceiling to do a muscle up.

    I'm loving the journey and the fact that progress is so easily measured.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Sounds like a good time line, John. Loving the journey is what it's all about!

  • By Jack -

    Great piece. Thanks Al! Quick question – are your legs out like “L” pullup or are you kipping out with your legs?


  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Part of the reason why my legs are out is because the ceiling where I shot that clip was too low for me to start from a regular hang, but I also like the extra core work that comes along with doing them that way. However, the ring muscle-up can be performed without starting from an L-sit position.

    Regardless of how you begin though, you're legs will probably have to go out in front at the beginning of the transition from pull-up to dip. Kipping can be done on the rings, although if you kip too hard the rings are going to swing a lot, making the move more challenging. Hope that makes sense.

  • By jack -

    Igonre the last question – I got to see your video.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Too late! 🙂

  • By jack -

    It does. thanks!

  • By Robby Taylor -

    Hey Al!

    I’m so excited to tell you that I finally got my first muscle up the other day! My progress seems to be atypical, as not only do I find them easier on rings, but also I have never done a kipping muscle up; I am most comfortable with ring muscle ups with no kicking. Anyway, I made a quick little video this morning after work for YouTube, and I was hoping you would take a minute to check it out! Any critique you have would be greatly appreciated! 

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Congrats, Robby – looks good!  My only comment is to try to find a spot to set up your rings where you have more clearance above and below so you can work a full ROM.

      • By Robby Taylor -

        Thanks again for your guidance and support, Al. 
        I was thinking about taking the rings to the swing set at the neighborhood playground once I am comfortable enough with the exercise to do them in sets. Luckily it’s maybe a 2 minute walk. Now I can do muscle ups, handstand push ups (with a wall), and pistol squat progressions…to me these three exercises perform an ideal set because they are all quite advanced, together they give you a true full body workout in very little time almost anywhere, and they all can be made substantially harder. I’m actually doing weighted pistols in my workouts because they are easier to manage than the advanced bodyweight progressions and still give an excellent strength workout.

Comments are closed.