One of the most elusive movements to many new CrossFit athletes is the Muscle Up. For many beginner CrossFitters the Muscle Up can seem like an impossible leap to make. JUNK Brands sponsored athlete, All-American gymnast and 2014 CrossFit Games qualifier Alex LaChance shows you how to make the transition with proper technique in "How To Perfect A Muscle Up." The "How To Perfect a Muscle Up" video also features demonstrations from JUNK Brands sponsored athlete and 4-time CrossFit Games qualifier Chyna Cho. Consider "How To Perfect A Muscle Up" your step by step guide to conquering the muscle up with the kip movement.
Headbands featured in the "How To Perfect a Muscle Up" video:
Alex LaChance wearing Ibiza Midnight headband
Chyna Cho wearing Siren's Call headband
How To Perfect A Muscle Up
The first step to getting an efficient Muscle Up starts with the kip- this is where all of our momentum comes from. The kip is a powerful transition from an arch to a hollow position. The tighter the body can stay during the kip, and the bigger the hollow and arch positions can be, the more power we can generate from it. Any breaks in the body, like a break in the hips or knees, will create a loss in power.
The kip starts with the big, tight, arch position in the back swing. This is called our “loaded” position. The bigger and tighter we can make this arch shape, the more power and momentum we can create.
In order to maximize the arch position, palms should be turned out to help open up the chest while pressing the rings away from the body to load the lats. Glutes should be squeezed to keep the hips extended (flat), and legs should be be straight with ankles together. Heels should be pulled as high as possible behind us.
From here, as the legs swing through the bottom, we snap AGGRESSIVELY through the core to form a tight hollow position with the insides of the wrists facing in. The “snap to hollow” should be towards the ceiling, since this is the direction that we want our body to travel- up and over the rings. Our momentum will travel in the direction of our toes, so we want to make sure that energy is directed vertically.
As the body snaps from arch to hollow, we want to bring the hips up to the rings by pulling down with the lats. At the top of the pull, shoulders need to be the highest point of the body- ideally above the rings. Hips should be just under the rings, and toes should be pointed downward. The body should be making a downward slope. Glutes should be squeezed and there should be no break in the hips. This position is called the “Hip-to-Ring” position. It is important that the insides of the wrists are facing each other at the top of this pull. If the palms are face down, the wrists will not be able to rotate up over the rings with the rest of the body when we transition into the dip position.
After the hip-to-ring position, we have a quick transition into the dip. The higher we can get our shoulders in the hip-to-ring, the less time it will take to sit up and catch in the dip position. We can also make this transition faster by pulling the heels to the glutes as we sit up into the dip. This adds speed by not only make the body smaller, but it also helps rotate the body as a unit. If the hip-to-ring was successful (shoulders are above the rings, hips are under the rings, toes are pointed down with body forming a downward slope), we should be finishing high in the dip position with minimal elbow flexion. The lower the hips and shoulders are in the hip-to-ring, the lower we will catch in the dip. As we fatigue, we catch lower and deeper in the dip. The benefit to catching higher in the dip, is that we can decrease tricep fatigue by having a smaller range of motion to press out of the dip. It also allows us more reps before we turn over so low that we miss a rep. If we start out catching deep in the dip on our fresh reps, a little bit of fatigue will quickly turn us over too low under the rings to be able to dip out.
With all all of this being said, there are several techniques to performing the muscle up, and every individual is different and should have a slightly unique style based on their lever lengths, mobility, strength, and power. The technique that I have explained here is what I have found to be the most successful with myself as a professional CrossFit athlete, as well as with teaching my personal clients and the athletes that I work with at my gymnastics seminars. Good luck! =)
About Alex LaChance
Alexandra Aurora LaChance is a JUNK Brands sponsored athlete, former All American gymnast and scholarship athlete for the University of Arkansas. As a National Elite and Level 10 Gymnast, Alex became a 5-time USA Gymnastics National Championship Competitor, and accumulated 5 State Championship gold medals, 10 Regional Championship gold medals, and 25 other Level 10 State, Regional, and National Championship medals. She is a published fitness writer and model, with a M.S. in Exercise Science (University of Arkansas, 2012).
Alexandra went on to win the 2014 North Central CrossFit Regional, and qualified for the 2014 CrossFit Games during her first year competing as an Individual CrossFit Athlete. She is a USA Olympic Weightlifting National Qualifier, Powerlifting competitor, and a Professional Grid Athlete with the two-time League Champion DC Brawlers. Aside from being a full-time athlete, Alex travels around the country holding Gymnastics Seminars, and also offers Individualized Interactive Gymnastics Programming. To learn more about Alex LaChance visit her Instagram and YouTube Channel.
About Chyna Cho
JUNK Brands Sponsored Athlete Chyna Cho is a 4-time CrossFit Games Athlete competing in the upcoming 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games. Her athletic journey started as a full ride scholarship swimmer at San Jose State. In 2009, she suffered a knee injury that led to three surgeries. Chyna started CrossFit in late 2009 to rehab her knee and get back into shape after gaining weight.
Chyna obtained her CrossFit Level One Trainer Certificate in 2010 and started her CrossFit coaching career at CrossFit Unlimited. That same year, she qualified for the CrossFit Games and finished 18th . Chyna returned to the CrossFit Games in 2014 and finished in 15th. In 2015, Chyna finished 6th place at the CrossFit Games and was the highest placing American female.
Later in the year, she was a member of the USA Team that won the CrossFit Invitational against teams from Europe, Canada, and the Pacific regions. During her CrossFit journey, Chyna also participated in Olympic weightlifting and appeared in both the USAW American Open and Nationals weightlifting meets. Chyna and her husband, Freddy Camacho, became co-owners at CrossFit of Fremont in July of 2014. To learn more about Chyna Cho visit her Instagram.