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Your First Ring Muscle Up: How Long Will It Take?

Wide ring muscle up transition shot

EVERYONE remembers their first muscle up and if you haven’t nailed this milestone yet, when you do you’ll always remember this landmark occasion. Whether you’re a crossfitter, powerlifter, bodybuilder or general gym goer, you’ll have heard of a muscle up and most likely tried it or want to at some stage.

Achieving a muscle up is many people’s long term fitness goal and with the right guidance and approach, you can see phenomenal progress in relatively short time spans!

I’m going to share with you 2 different real world examples of going from virtually untrained to ring muscle up in LESS than 6 months. Yep, less than 6 months.

So, why the ring muscle up; what about the bar muscle up?

Well, I’ve always said the ring muscle up is a superior choice for first muscle ups for 2 reasons……..

  1. It’s easier. With the ring muscle up you don’t have to contend with going around the bar, instead you can move through the rings. This makes the infamously challenging transition phase significantly easier.
  2. It’s harder to cheat. With the bar muscle up it’s incredibly easy to use momentum to get over the bar, but we’re talking STRICT muscle ups here not kipped. Kipped muscle ups are worthless. On the rings, while kipping is still possible, the instability makes it harder along with the necessity of the false grip, it’s actually harder to kip on the rings than the bar, in my opinion.

The ring muscle up is a great intermediate skill and one that demonstrates a plethora of properties from pulling power, pushing power, grip strength and even shoulder mobility. And it can be progressed in so many ways from harder variations to weighted ring muscle ups.

Both of the following examples are from an untrained state; by that we mean no previous calisthenics experience and very little general workout experience either. Neither had loads of strength in pull ups or dips as you’ll see…….

Case Study #1 – 3 Months To 2 Ring Muscle Ups

When I first started working with Mitchell he was a hungry kid looking to get started with bodyweight training. He hadn’t expressed a specific desire for any particular move, although I guided him towards the ring muscle up as I saw some definite possibilities there.

He worked the fundamentals on his own religiously, building proficiency across all patterns – vertical pulling (pull ups), vertical pushing (dips/pike push ups), horizontal pulling (rows) and horizontal pushing (push ups etc). When I saw him we would work on the skill and technical side of the ring muscle up. This included drills for the transition, the false grip and a general education of the movement pattern.

There were some failed attempts along the way but Mitch kept focused and stayed hungry. Then this happened………

TWO ring muscle ups! And what’s even better is he carried on pushing forward and now has one of the nicest looking slow ring muscle ups you could wish to see, multiple ring muscle ups, almost a full back lever and handstand push ups for reps. The rest is history, as they say.

Case Study #2 – 5 Months To A Ring Muscle Up

Doug is an old friend of mine from way back in my school days. I met back up with him around the start of 2019 and found out he had an interest in fitness, yoga and the gym in general. I exposed him to the world of calisthenics training with some cool shows of my own progress over the years and invited him to join me for a session.

He had a nice level of general flexibility and body awareness but was definitely lacking raw power, and only boasted 2 strict chin ups and 3-5 dips. I helped him out with a little plan to build base strength within calisthenics (similar to Mitch’s story above) and he ran it anytime he didn’t join me for workouts. Then as 2 chin ups became 5 sets of 5 chin ups and then eventually pull ups, I planted the idea of a ring muscle up as a nice target for summer.

Then on the 24th of July, this happened……..

After weeks of doubts and struggles and incredibly close attempts………BANG, it happened! Now the quest for consistent multiple reps begins. Watch this space.

Is It Really That Easy?!

Don’t confuse a short time frame with ease. These guys had to work constantly, week in, week out, for months to achieve what they did. Had they not, they wouldn’t have got there. These miraculous time frame/success stories only occur when the person in question is willing to go the extra mile and pay their dues in the form of structured effort and plenty of hours’ work.

Granted, having the guidance of someone experienced and educated in the field is paramount but I (as the coach) am only responsible for so much. I’ve seen countless drop offs in my time from people who said they wanted it but perhaps the journey was too much and they didn’t actually want it enough?

For help on your fitness journey feel free to email me: or direct message me on Instagram (@straight_talking_fitness).

Be inspired, go and get it!

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

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