STILL CAN'T MUSCLE-UP? Try This One Simple Fix
10/06/2021 | Andrew Tracey
Andrew Tracey is a long time collaborator with Bulldog Gear. A coach, writer and current fitness editor of Men’s Health Magazine, he has been in and around the fitness industry for the past 16 years. Having enjoyed and endured a number of disciplines from endurance racing, to strongman, to Crossfit AT enjoys getting neck deep in the practice just as much as the theory.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when they're trying to learn both the bar and ring muscle-up is something I call 'bombing the eccentric'.
The 'eccentric' or lowering portion of most lifts is where you're liable to have the most strength, and therefore the most capacity for improvement in movements you're still looking to master. Anecdotally, if you think about movements such as the bench press, you have far more strength and control as you're lowering the bar towards your chest, versus when you're trying to press the weight back away again, this is especially true as you close in on your one rep max.
The same is particularly true of the muscle-up; you may not have the capacity to get yourself over the bar unassisted, but have far more control over the movement on the way back down; if you're not taking advantage of this extra strength, you're missing a trick.
Take for example the jumping muscle-up: you use a box or step to put you closer to the bar, bend at the knees and use a slight jump to help you get up and over the bar, ala a muscle-up, if once you're at the top you simply drop back down at terminal velocity, you're not only missing out on the stimulus of half the movement, but the half of the movement where you have the propensity to drill the movement pattern to a higher, more controlled standard; the same can be seen when people perform banded and feet planted ring regressions.
The fix? Slow it down.
Once you've finished your rep and are fully locked out above the bar, grip the rig and slowly lower yourself back towards it, maintaining control and full body tension throughout. Aim to take 2-3 seconds just to get your chest to the bar. From here, focus on reversing the transition purposefully, not just simply 'dropping' below the bar; take 1-2 seconds to get your shoulders below the bar, keeping a firm grip and tension, before performing a slow eccentric pull-up back down onto the box; repeat.
String these together, paying attention to when you can no longer maintain full control over the lowering portion, at this point rest. By stopping before your form through the eccentric begins to break down, you can ensure that you are drilling a correct and efficient movement pattern, which will help you build the strength to eventually nail the full rep.
KEY CUE- STOP BOMBING YOUR ECCENTRICS!