The CrossFit Exercise All Lifters Need

Train Your Whole Upper Body With One Lift


Not Just a CrossFit Exercise

Still think of the muscle-up as just a CrossFit exercise? That's a mistake. Everyone can benefit from it. And the ability to do it right is a sign you've got great relative strength.

But the muscle-up could actually be better. The super muscle-up (SRMU) is a strict ring muscle-up that includes isometric holds at different positions. Using the same logic as a paused squat or paused deadlift, the purpose is to improve positional strength and bring up weak points.

To perform the SRMU, you'll need to be able to do the components of a muscle-up, so first make sure you can do at least 5 unbroken, false-grip ring pull-ups and 5 strict ring dips.

Once you've got that down, then theoretically you should be able to do the SRMU. Notice I say "theoretically" because it's not always as simple as just doing more pull-ups and dips. The transition between the two is key. But even if you lack the strength to perform a strict muscle-up from start to finish, breaking it down into its individual components will help tremendously.

  • Do a muscle-up (strict or kipping)
  • Hold at the top position: ring support hold
  • Lower to a dip: bottom of the dip hold
  • Transition from dip to top pull-up position: bent-arm false-grip hold
  • Lower to starting muscle-up position: Straight-arm false grip hold

Your body is always stronger on the eccentric phase than the concentric phase of any exercise. So starting in a ring support hold (at the top), perform a 5-10 second isometric hold at each different position of the muscle-up, allowing yourself to build the strength from the top down.

Transition from position to position with as much control as possible. Easier said than done, I assure you. You'll most likely have difficulty moving from the bottom of the dip hold to the bent-arm false grip hold since this will really test your false-grip strength.

Keep a proper false grip with your wrists curled on top of the rings for the holds while maintaining a hollow body position. The super muscle-up just adds to the difficulty of the SRMU by increasing time under tension.

If you want to perform a SRMU, you have to earn it. Focus on building basic foundational strength with pull-ups, dips, and isometric holds first and foremost. In this case, it's strength before skill.

This exercise will get easier if you're relatively lean. Once you've got the strength and have practiced the skills, you'll be able to add this to your upper-body arsenal.

Tanner Shuck is a former Division 1A football player and accomplished CrossFit athlete. He specializes in competitive fitness, with emphasis on training absolute and relative strength. Tanner is an online coach and personal trainer based out of Dubai, UAE. Follow on Instagram