It Took Me Years of Hard Work to Do a CrossFit Muscle-Up—But It Was Totally Worth It
After months and months of drills and dedication, I finally aced this hard AF CrossFit trick.
On my 39th birthday last October, I stood in front of a set of gymnastics rings, my husband ready to take a video of me doing my first muscle-up. I didn't get it. But I came closer than I ever had.
To achieve a muscle-up (one of the events at the annual CrossFit Games Open), you need to not only do a pull-up on the rings but then stabilize and press out there in midair. For the longest time, I just figured that my strength would allow me to muscle my way up on the rings when I competed at the open, so I never practiced it, and I failed year after year. Last summer, I secretly made a goal of doing one by my next birthday. (Related: CrossFit Art Will Inspire You to Get Creative with Your Workout)
For four months, I went all in. I realized I couldn't rely on just my arm strength, so I improved my eating and added specific, band-assisted pulling drills to my training. Two to three times a week, I did drills at the gym, practicing each component of the move: getting used to the grip, developing pulling strength, increasing stability on the rings, sitting up into the transition from pull-up to press-out. I felt the drills getting easier as I gradually shed 12 pounds, and that drove me to keep going. On my birthday, I did the pull-up but couldn't keep the rings close to my body, so I lost it. (Related: Urban Fitness League Is the Badass New Sport You Need to Know About)
As a novice surfer, I can compare it with catching a wave. Sometimes when you pop up, your timing is slightly off and you go down. Then there are those other times when you really fight for it and succeed. A week later, I chalked my hands, used a little momentum, and told myself to fight for it. I used the false grip, where you sort of rest the heel of your hand on the ring as you hold on. Imagine karate chopping the ring and then wrapping your fingers around it. This alone took some time to get used to-it's not comfortable on the wrists-but it puts you in a better position once you're on top of the rings. It worked; I finally got that muscle-up! (Use this guide to set and conquer your own goals.)
There would be no recording, except for the gym's grainy security camera video. For me, getting my first muscle-up was like that perfect surf. I just really wanted to ride that wave.