Muscle Ups: Scaling Strategies For Crossfit Athletes

A quick rescue on how to scale your ring muscle ups

Ring muscles up are tough. I can still remember the very first time I was humbled by a friend doing them strict and with ease at work between clients.

I thought, I’m great at pull ups and dips…I got this. I was quickly humbled. I then went on a quest for years to become very proficient at gymnastics skills.

This blog is dedicated to:

  • Giving you quick resource on how to scale your ring muscles ups in a met con and or gymnastics skill piece

For a deeper dive and breakdown on each progression, view our ring muscle up progression article here.

Scaling Muscle Ups In A Met Con

You aren’t going to get better at your skills but ONLY practicing skills when you see them in met cons, but you can optimize what you are doing. The problem most athletes have is trying to improve capacity by just doing more of the movement.

Utilize this chart as a guide to work higher reps and lower skill during your met con:

# of Muscle Ups You Can DoScaling Option AScaling Option B (Harder)
0Strict Pull Ups + Strict DipFalse Grip Pull Ups
1Jumping Ring Muscle UpBent Leg Box Ring Muscle Up
2Banded Muscle UpME* Ring Muscle Ups, Directly Into Strict Ring Pull Up Or Ring Dips
3-4Straight Leg Box Ring Muscle UpME Ring Muscle Ups, Directly Into Jumping Ring Muscle Up
Reach out to coaches for specific drills to you.

*ME = max effort.

You MUST continue to work on your strength, strength endurance and technique. Which is why you’ll see we want you to prioritize lower skill movements to build muscular endurance in your met cons.

During gymnastics capacity sessions we will work on more demanding strength skills.

Scaling Muscle Ups In A Capacity Session

progression for muscle up
Capacity sessions are when you actually practice.

You won’t get better at high skill movements by only doing them in your workouts, which is why we have structured progressions throughout each training cycle.

For example this looks like:

  • 30 muscle ups for time
  • 10 x 3 muscle up –> with as little rest as possible between sets
  • 4 sets of max reps –> rest x 3 minutes
  • 8 x 4 muscle up

But what if you don’t have the capacity to complete the reps prescribed? Utilize this chart:

# of Muscle Ups You Can DoScaling Option AScaling Option B (Harder)
0Ring Muscle Up + Transition
ME* x False Grip Pull Ups + :10 Hold On Final Rep @ Top
1Bent Leg Box Ring Muscle UpBanded Muscle Up
2Muscle Up + 1’sStraight Leg Box Ring Muscle Up
3-4Do 70% Of Prescribed WorkDo 80% Of Prescirbed Work
Reach out to coaches for specific drills to you.

*ME = max effort.

Common Challenges Seen With Muscle Ups

ring muscle up
What you are lacking is either…

There is only a few reasons why you are struggling with ring muscle ups:

  1. Lack of strength
  2. Lack of techniquie
  3. Lack of capacity (the ability to do more)

And I will tell you that if you are saying you are #3 that if you were stronger and had better technique you could have a larger capacity.

Throughout our program you are going to see muscles ups:

  • in either a conditioning piece (under fatigue)
  • or in a skill session (building efficiency and or capacity)
how to scale muscle ups
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