Steps to a Muscle-Up – Step #1: The Bow/Hollow Drill

Steps to a Muscle-Up – Step #1: The Bow/Hollow Drill
Written by Nichole DeHart

A ring muscle-up is one of those desired movements that can elude many. Not only does it require exceptional strength, it also is very technical. Despite the challenge, many have learned to master the muscle-up. Over the next few weeks, we are going to walk you through drills to help you either get closer to your muscle up or refine your muscle-up technique.

Whether you are a muscle-up master or have only watched people crank them out from afar, each week we will release a drill that can benefit you. Try some of them to gain confidence and to reinforce proper positioning. Effective hip drive and technique are just as important as strength when working on this movement.

These drills to getting your first muscle-up will be most effective if you have the strength to perform 5 strict pull-ups. This doesn’t guarantee getting a muscle-up but it does ensure that you have the ability to maintain proper shoulder positioning for the drills.  Let’s start with the first drill.

Step #1 – The Bow/Hollow Drill

This may look familiar! This is the same drill we use for helping people get a pull-up! If you are unfamiliar with the bow/hollow drill for pull-ups then check out the article here

Now to add onto this drill, we will move you to the rings. I would advise you to only move to the rings once you have mastered the bow/hollow drill on the pull-up bar. Instead of doing this drill on a stationary bar, now you are on a pair of unstable rings. This means that you have to work hard to control your body while you move yourself around the rings. Hand position can be crucial when knocking out clips of muscle-ups or when getting your first one, so let’s go over hand position.

There are two popular ways to hold the rings when doing ring muscle-ups. One is called a false grip. A false grip shortens your pull and is often used by those just learning. If you would like to work with a false grip, then:

  • Choke up onto the rings by curling your hand over and on top of the bottom ring.

  • Place the inside of your wrist on the ring.

  • Hang in this position to develop strength and get comfortable.

  • The other popular type is called a neutral grip. This is used by many when linking muscle-ups together.  If you would like to work with a neutral grip, then:

    • Place the bottom of the ring into the meat of your hand (as deep into your palm as possible)

    • Place your thumb over your fingers.

    • Hang in this position to get comfortable.

    These are the two different options for grip. For the purposes of the drills we will have you practice, we recommend that you use a neutral grip.

    Now you are ready for the bow/hollow drill on the rings. Establish a hollow body position while hanging from the rings. Bring your feet together and drive your chest forward, opening up your shoulders. Then, quickly transition and pull yourself back behind the rings with no break in the arms. If we say stop, you should be able to stop and control your swing. If this is not the case, then you may be swinging more with your legs instead of your shoulders, not staying tight throughout the movement. Do not progress until you master this drill.

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