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Technique Tuesday: The Infamous Muscle-Up Part 1 “The Rant”


Technique Tuesday: The Infamous Muscle-Up Part 1 “The Rant”

I have seen, heard, and researched enough information around gymnastic movements to have a pretty good understanding that for some reason CrossFit coaches try and reinvent the wheel…… Watch enough “how to” videos and you begin to see a common thread. At gyms all across the United States all anyone ever wants is Muscle Up. I mean understandably so, it is deemed a right of passage by the CrossFit community.  I was no different than any of you. But why don’t we look like actual gymnasts doing them?

When I first started out at a local gym here in Billings, MT. I was told to just keep trying and eventually I would get. Like the butterfly pull-up this did not sit well with me so I dived into another realm of CrossFit porn where there was nothing more than my computer, myself and endless hours of which I get to exacerbate my problem with the cache of “how-to” videos. After binge watching for days I realized that I was in fact acting out the definition of insanity….I am not talking about the Merriam-Webster definition but rather the quote from Albert Einstein.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I was literally watching a video trying the “tips and tricks” of how to get your first muscle-up and after that didn’t work for awhile moved on to the second one….After what seemed like months went by I realized that I was in fact getting nowhere.  I felt like the butt of a bad joke. l mean honestly google “How to get your first Muscle Up.” Out of the first ten (despite a couple that I will name further down in this article) you will see different coaches reiterating the same thing with essentially the same drills. No wonder I was getting crazy looks as I stood in the corner hanging from the rings wildly thrusting my hips repeatedly for months all while yelling, screaming, moaning (essentially doing everything but a Muscle Up!  But isn’t that the world we live in? CrossFit Gymnastics (not the course that was awesome and very, very informative! More on that later) is all about violently thrusting my hips hoping that the end result is what is expected.

I mean, so what is one to do? I would say this… I do not have a gymnastic background, but I am first and foremost a student.  I learn, read and discuss with the some of the top in the game. Who are these unsung heroes?

  1. Joe Williams from Power and Grace Performance
  2. Dave Durant and Colin Geraghty from PowerMonkey Fitness
  3. Nick Sorrel from BruteStrength Training
  4. CrossFit Gymnastics

If you don’t follow these individuals or programs on Instagram or on Facebook, I would stop what you are doing and look them up now!

Back to the topic at hand… Wildly thrusting or throwing your hips at any problem is not the solution! Colin Geraghty recently stated

“When an athlete relies on that much hip drive to get a rep of any movement, it’s clear indication that they need to take some time to develop more strength and learn basic positions. Aggressively throwing the hips will reinforce poor positions, bad habits, and increase likelihood of injury.”

I often see this with athletes getting their first rep of anything “gymansticy,” I often start dissecting videos thinking why can’t they do two? I don’t do this to belittle their accomplishments but more so how could I help that individual if they were my athlete? Unfortunately, their process has not been about virtuosity more times then not. Strengthening basic positions and protecting shoulders and spines are a necessity and the foundation of any movement.  When I attended my gymnastic certification I walked away with a plethora of information (and would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more whether you are a coach or an athlete) but what really stuck with me is how truly important virtuosity is when it comes to training and when looking at a gymnasts practice, 2/3 of the time is purely practicing positions and strengthening those. The last 1/3 is left to go over and practice the routine.  Let that sink in… In a CrossFitters realm the routine is and would be the muscle-up. That movement/routine should not take majority of our time but rather should always come second to practicing positions and strengthening those!

Before I leave, I do so with this…. “I have two athletes, one brand new, the other working on her first MU. Would their training be different? If so, how?”

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