74. The Muscle-Up

74. The Muscle-Up

In this episode, both of the host Ackerman and Fren sit down and talk about the muscle-up. Which most people haven’t even heard of until they walk into the box, and is viewed by many when you get your Muscle-up you get your “Crossfit Card”.

The muscle-up (MU) is a movement that transitions from a hanging position below the rings to a supported position, arms extended, above the rings. It is a combination movement containing both a pull-up and a dip. Far from a contrivance, the muscle-up is hugely functional. With a muscle-up, you’ll be able to surmount any object on which you can get a finger hold–if you can touch it, you can get up on it. The value here for survival, police, firefighter, and military use is impossible to overstate.

They discuss the practical application of the MU in classes. From teaching it to scaling it appropriately, to helping members improve and string multiple together. You are only as limited as your imagination. Throughout this episode we dip into other topics, such as the art of coaching, keeping classes of different abilities engaged, and of course, we share plenty of funny and entertaining muscle-up stories.

Timestamps:

  • What is was like in the beginning (0:14)
  • Is the muscle-up functional? (6:46)
  • Scaling correctly is hard (11:50)
  • The difference between Bar and Ring muscle-ups (14:15)
  • Teaching and scaling (15:59)
  • Putting it into your class today (21:04)
  • Biggest Mistake we’re all making (22:50)
  • The transitions (28:52)
  • What about the people who have their muscle-ups? (39:52)
  • The phycological stuff (43:10)
  • Painting the picture to your athletes (48:28)
  • Run specialized clinic in your gym (51:30)
  • Ackerman’s Funny story (53:31)

Biggest takeaways:

  • Set up the progression before class don’t let that waste your time
  • Vary scaling even more than your programming
  • If they have a skill, they should be using. Eg just one muscle up, they should be doing that. “Apple and oranges don’t make giraffes” – Pat Sherwood

People who are very helpful:

The Gymnastics Course:
Instagram: @thegymanasticscourse
Recommend doing it, if you are hit us up for 20% off

Pamela Gagnon:
Instagram: @pamelagnon

Chuck Bennington:
Instagram: @chuckbennington

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Ackerman:
Welcome back. Best hour of their day, Fern and Akerman here today, and we are going to discuss all things muscle up.

Fern:
I don’t think people should do the muscle up here.

Ackerman:
Actually, I don’t. Before diving deep do it, I thought it would be interesting to talk about when we first started our first heard of the muscle up. Because I had no idea what it was until Crossfit obviously, and. To me, having seen it on video is only and then buying one of the first sets of rings from Rogue Fitness. I was like, no big deal. I do muscle ups. Now.

Fern:
Did you ever make your own set of rings?

Ackerman:
No, I never. I was close to it, but I was so bad at building stuff that. I can get the pvc, you get the pvc, put it in the oven. Did you do that?

Fern:
No, I didn’t. This is just funny to talk about because for people that have joined the craft, like I started Crossfit, in the last seven years, have no concept of how difficult it was to get basic things for the Crossfit, gym, like a pull up bar or a set of rings, or you literally had to send a written letter to a guy in Mexico to get a pair of lifting shoes like that. Just crazy shit like that. Or just people don’t understand how like how there was no market for any of these things.

Ackerman:
All right. So let me ask you, what do you think? Because I agree with you. Yeah, I mean, in two thousand, six and seven, when I was piecing together Albany Crossfit,, there was like an eBay site called Christians Fitness Factory.

Ackerman:
And it was like, that’s where I would get all my stand alone squat racks like these little cheap metal squat racks that would tip over. Right. So. And rings and I am as bad as I am with building things. My buddy helped me put the pull up rig together on the wall and they would literally come out of the wall. During the workout. But when do you think that shift was? When do you think the turning point was? Because you’re right. Somebody once opened a box. You’d get a couple of pieces for the garage. Most people just hop on rogue fitness. So was it when rogue fitness picked up? Was it when Reebok came along?

Fern:
Well, I think. It was. It was not necessarily a rogue.

Fern:
Feel like, again, faster and might have been on the scene just slightly beforehand, but it was probably like around that 2010 timeframe where it still wasn’t super easy. But it wasn’t impossible like it was in 2008. Like in 2008, it was just impossible to get things you could not get like bumper plates. Was a big deal like to try to get bumper plates, you know. And I’m trying to think of other stuff.

Fern:
That was right.

Ackerman:
You mentioned a funny, which was the lifters back in the day. You couldn’t. Nowadays you’d be a Nike, Adidas, you get Reebok. There’s no ball. Like there’s so many different varieties. Back in the day was like you had to go like you said you had to find the guy. And I think they were like “do wins”.

Fern:
Yeah, they were “do wins”. And I actually paid sold probably north of three hundred dollars on eBay audition for a pair of two thousand eight, Romaleos Nike’s lifting shoes all year. And like I was more than happy to pay more than like almost 300 bucks for those.

Ackerman:
Yeah. When Romaleos came on the scene they were everything. Like. Because I had to “do win” and they were basically like velvet, I want to say, yeah.

Fern:
It was like a suede.

Fern:
It definitely wasn’t a velvet.

Ackerman:
Like a jumpsuit. Yeah. They were like suede and they had the Velcro strap over and the bottoms were basically wood.

Fern:
Yeah. If you had a pair of like the old school, like one of the original Adidas “ad stars” that you were like. Kind of assumed that you knew what you were doing.

Ackerman:
Those like orangeish red ones, remember?

Fern:
No, there were silver and black.

Ackerman:
And those. Yeah,.

Fern:
And they had a better wooden heel on them. They were there legit.

Ackerman:
So anyway, there was that. There was rings. You know, my funny story is I finally got these rings. And I hang him in the global gym area. So I was training people at a gym called the Cork Club, which is where I opened my first box. But I was using the global gym area, which is small little novelist’s low ceilings. So I hang low rings from that squat rack. And I couldn’t do as I went the hell. Like I thought I was just going to throw my out there and have muscle ups like girls and Annie, Nichole and those nasty girls. And it took me weeks. I remember getting my first must love up in that little global gym area and screaming. And no one no one had any idea what I had just accomplished.

Fern:
I remember just being. Absolutely. Amazed by watching Pat Sherwood do 30 muscle ups for time.

Ackerman:
Well,.

Fern:
And he was doing like he was doing. And this is and he was.

Fern:
I want to say he did it in like 5 just over 5 minutes and this is like two thousand and nine, all strict. And he was just doing like quick singles and I was just watching it, thinking myself, I have no concept of how a human being can do that.

Ackerman:
Yeah. And then there was a video by a guy named Rob Miller. Remember him?

Fern:
Yupe

Ackerman:
Rob Miller, right. And he just 30 and he was doing. I remember he specifically said a clock and was doing one every 15 seconds. Yeah.

Fern:
I think Pat did something very similar.

Ackerman:
And I was like, that’s amazing. Like, one must love every 15 seconds.

Fern:
Yeah.

Ackerman:
And so speaking of Pat, I go to my level one and this is like. Right, this was may match up my level one fall 2007. So must have been right around the same time. And I knew like I was kind of like I knew I had a muscle up, but I wasn’t great at them. So they do the muscle up break out. And back then they were just letting people flop around, like keeping whatever you want. And I had sunglasses on my head, much like you keep my hair back and I go and I get my first muscle up and my glasses flip over as I’m on top of the rings and land. And Sherwood looks up on me, goes, cool guy with the muscle ups that they get.

Ackerman:
So, yeah, that had me.

Ackerman:
So, you know, obviously the muscle up has come a long way. That 30 muscle up for a time workout still is standard and actually used this year. If you think about how crazy it is back in the day, just doing 30 must let alone was going under 10 minutes was like pretty good. Yeah. Now they did Grace and Isabelle and 30 muscle ups. Oh yeah. So it’s amazing how far the sport has gone. But let’s just talk about the where the muscle ups fits in some best practices, some of our favorite scaling options. And and you know what we think. Crossfitters and Box owners should be doing it, so. So let’s let’s dive in there. What are your first thoughts when you hear when you hear muscle ups?

Fern:
I have the good fortune of hindsight and probably a mild amount of maturity at this point. And I think this is a concept that people should take to heart, which is some people will never and should never do a muscle up. But that does not mean that we should not try to edge them towards that. And it’s it it’s OK if certain people never do one. It’s like where this can go wrong as we try to push people too fast or too far on some complex movements when our only goal is to edge them forward. Right. So that’s the first thing which is like it’s OK if people don’t have one and it’s OK if you come to the conclusion that Grandma Jenny will never get one. But that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have some of the basic components of a muscle up.

Ackerman:
No, that’s a really interesting point. And I think, like you said, it comes a little bit from maturity.

Ackerman:
Because in 2007, 2008, I think we both would have been like, grandma, get on the fucking rings. You’re doing muscle ups, right? And now. Yeah.

Fern:
You can’t do this. You’re deficient. Haha

Ackerman:
You’re worthless and Weak. [laughing] You know, so and it was funny. I think it was last week or two weeks ago at a level one doing. I was given the what is Crossfit, lecture. And then I also gave the snatch breakout out and into what is Crossfit, lecture. Somebody is like, how functional is this movement a snatch? And I think it can really be the same can be said about the muscles they have functional as a yes. In an ideal world, you can get yourself up there over an object. As a kid, I was awkward and not athletic. Not much different than today.

Fern:
I was going to say what he mean as a kid.

Ackerman:
I beat you to it, but I really struggled like well, my friends would climb a fence like I was the guy that was they wait for me and now it is. It is impressive that with the muscle up I am better at that. Not that I’m climbing fences often, but I have done obstacle courses and and I know it’s from doing the muscle up. And I think truth be told, like you said, is it functional? Do I need grandma doing the muscle? Let’s do I need her snatching? Probably not. But I heard Joe Dgame say this at a seminar and he’s like, you know, we definitely get grandma working towards it. I’m a little less concerned about if she’s going to fall. You know, I’m a little less concerned about her picking up the laundry basket.

Fern:
Yeah, there’s some there. Again, it’s not so much about the muscle up as it is. And this is athlete specific and obviously requires context, but.

Fern:
The components of the muscle up, for instance, if we’re not talking about. OK, I’m hanging from a from a frictionless plane on these two rings and then making a transition from below to above an object. And I want to really break that down, too. Grandma does fall down and she has to get herself from the floor to a seated position, potentially using a table or a chair. Now it starts to make a little bit more sense. We’re like, oh, there are some basic components of a muscle up that do apply to the real world.

Fern:
And if I can teach them that very similar to the transfer draw, if you’ve ever taken the adaptive athlete course, which is which is actually really difficult for people that are fit. So there is absolute functional transferability of that movement. If we remove the whole gymnastics realm of of that movement from it and again, giving people those components is also going to help them in a lot of other ways.

Fern:
Like if we’re not working transitions, we’re probably not giving people some of the work and some of the range of motion that they need at the shoulder. We’re not teaching them how to stabilize their their body in certain positions. They probably don’t press or pull it as well as they should. And that’s that’s not OK. From a coaching standpoint.

Ackerman:
So let me ask you this. I think one of the most challenging aspects of it is knowing that, you know, in any given work, at any given box, I’d say maybe on average, 20 percent of the people in a class can actually do muscle ups.

Fern:
I’ll be high. I would. Yeah.

Ackerman:
So how do we keep the interest of those other people?

Fern:
This is a tough one because I do feel that the muscle up.

Fern:
Is one of the more difficult movements to scale correctly, because everybody has like there is a very there is some serious my new show there with regard to one athlete, to the next athlete, to the third athlete. With regard to like where their skill several were, their skill set is with the muscle up and what is appropriate from a scaling standpoint innate and a in order to make it. Difficult based on the workout, right? Just like what is the volume of the of the muscle ups like? Like, is it 30? Is it five? Like which? Which progression or transition should we use in order to make that drill difficult for them? And that requires, in my mind, probably more tools than almost any other movement in order to really. If I 15 athletes in a class, in order to really give 15 people something that is equivalent to the difficulty level of somebody who has a muscle up for that workout.

Ackerman:
Right. Because for a lot of movements we do Crossfit,, it becomes very simply scale the load scale, the reps, the muscle up has multiple components. And we need to be aware of and we talk about the level one you need to be able to do pull ups and dips. Without a doubt that you also need that some skill, false grip, transition. So there’s so much to teach these people that don’t have them. How do you kind of find that intend stimulus?

Fern:
Yeah. Well, and it’s tough because more often than not, we give people a scale that is that is virtually.

Fern:
Not not even remotely difficult for them to do so, they do the kneeling muscle up version where they have their feet on the floor and then they just kind of casually work through that. At no point are they actually having to work on, you know, any sort of control. They just kind of use their legs and pop up or or they knee or they should have had the rings a little bit higher. Or that we should make them work a little bit more in the ring Dip and all that stuff. So. So I said it’s really difficult. Like what? I’m doing a box transition muscle up. It’s like where where should they put their feet in order to actually have to work to make that transitions that they’re getting through there. And that’s why I think it’s so difficult to dial up something like the muscle up in order to have everybody. And that’s before we talk about is it rig or bar muscle up?

Fern:
Similar transition to entirely different animals. So.

Ackerman:
Which one do you find easier? Ringer or Bar.

Fern:
To like me personally?

Ackerman:
Ya, just to do just just to hit in the work out.

Fern:
Honestly, I think I think the ring is a little bit easier because that’s where I started. Right. Like I started there. And so that I had the technique for that before I had the technique for bar muscle up, the bar muscle up, in my opinion does require a bit more strength, but less stability because I do have to pull higher for a bar muscle up. Right. I need to get full clearance over the bar where I can kind of get myself through on a set of rings. That is my personal opinion. That has nothing but my anecdotal experience. But that’s me. So that’s my experience. And I always and I do see more people get. So to counter that, if I was going to play devil’s advocate, I see more people get the bar muscle up first before they get the rig muscle up.

Ackerman:
Yeah. I mean I think usually it’s like 50/50. It’s like asking what’s harder the clean or the jerk. Some people say the clean some say the jerk for for me, bar muscle ups are significantly easier.

Ackerman:
I can do muscle. I can do both, but I find it a lot easier to string together higher sets of bar. So let’s let’s dive a little deeper into it. You know. Really, what it comes down to the muscle up. If you have members that are doing it great, it’s often. All right. Let’s refine some things. We could talk about the kip. We can talk about early armed pull, etc. But let’s let’s dive first and foremost into teaching and scaling. How do where, where and when do you begin teaching the Muscle up?

Fern:
It for me, if it’s in a workout, I’m probably it will probably immediately some variation and it will probably immediately be thrown into the general warm up because it’s not. That’s the muscle up is not something you want to spend five minutes on in a specific warm up like you need to spend adequate time there. And that could start with a host of floor drills. So one drill that you can work on from a from a transition standpoint is if you have somebody who’s laying prone so they’re on their stomach. Kind of in a push up position, but they have their forearms flat on the floor and teaching them to transition from their forearm, being flat on the floor to transitioning into a push up position with their forearms vertical. That’s a really good place to start. And it’s far more difficult than people think to do that drill. But it is a transition where I’m kind of shifting my body weight forward and you’re immediately going to see the people who have some capacity in order to do that. So I’m going to start there with some with some fairly basic drills, just like pressing drills, some pulling drills, maybe some ring rows and maybe do like a three to four minute little amrap of three different variations of that and have people do.

Fern:
We stalk about this before for a little a little talking warm up where people are just moving casually so I can put my eyes on people.

Fern:
But all of those movements are relevant or or pieces of muscle up.

Ackerman:
I think that’s a great drill. I’ve seen is a video out there. Camille, I believe, teaching it as well in boxes and figure that they call maybe the Russian dip or something like that. Yeah, we work on that transition. And that’s probably my biggest pet peeve when it comes to other coaches. Coaching the muscle up is, I mean, how often have you seen it in other classes? hey guys, it’s muscle up day. For those of you that don’t have muscles, which is a something I hear now because of what we talked about months years ago, I and I and I bring it up right now. Who doesn’t have their muscles ups? Who’s working on their muscle? I’m still working on muscle ups. It often becomes, hey, OK. Four clubs four dips.

Ackerman:
I mean.

Fern:
Pat Sherwood has a great. I’ve literally never forgotten this because that is up for a lot of people. That is the typical scale. If you if you don’t have muscle ups, we’re going to do three dips and three pull ups. And for most people, A, they’re not missing either one of those components. If they have both of those things, we probably shouldn’t be focusing there. But his thing was always like a cat, a dog don’t make a giraffe. So stop doing that. You know, because we are your ignoring the the technique portion of that, which is the transition, which is the part that people are missing. So we’re doing them zero favors by cutting out the most important aspect of of what makes the muscle difficult.

Ackerman:
Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of people leave their level one having that newfound realization where it’s like, oh, I really do need to focus on this false script and the transition. You know, speaking of what do you find easier to get people their first muscle up strict or kipping?

Fern:
That’s athlete dependent. Depending on the kind of depending how many pull ups I’ve seen them doing different things like I’m OK with some people skipping for most people. It’s as Rob would. It’s cringeworthy. Like, I get a little I get a little freaked out because I’ve seen people shoot through the rings and do all sorts of crazy stuff in there. So I really want to see people work in a strict and a strict fashion first, because I know some things about that move and I know they have the required strength in order to pull themselves and get themselves into good positions. And I know they have control, but just throwing people on the rings and telling me keep away, really, really not responsible from a coaching standpoint. And I’m guilty of doing that. In the past. Number one. And then you learn better and you’re like, oh, this is this is not a good idea.

Ackerman:
First of all, a lot of good feedback on the word cringing from our last episode of People. People like that word. But and I. One thing I and how it is, I actually find it easier if someone’s trying to get a muscle up to get them a strict muscle up first, because while the kip obviously helps and gets their hips in there and center of gravity higher. It’s way more to think about versus pull transition.

Fern:
Correct.

Ackerman:
Yeah. If they transition the dip is there.

Fern:
What percentage of people would you say? So we do. We do a 30 minute. We do a 30 minute break out at the level one course. And what percentage of people what percentage of those seminars would you say that you get somebody to do their first muscle up in that 30 minute window? That did not have one prior to.

Ackerman:
I’d say at least 90. I can’t think of many seminars that we’ve left where, you know, back in the day when we used to to break out groups. Yeah. Almost always at least one of them. But I’d say even to this day, it’s very rare that I remember no one getting their first muscle.

Fern:
Yeah, I would say it’s a safe seventy five percent like a very six. Seventy five percent of those seminars. Take somebody who doesn’t have it work on their technique. Give them a couple little pointers and all of a sudden they can do a muscle up, which is what is missing. More often than not, they affiliate setting. So like how do we solve that problem. If you’re a coach listening to this, you’re like, OK, cool. I get conceptually what you’re saying. How do I do that from a practical standpoint on the floor tomorrow or this afternoon? Because I have the afternoon classes and it’s muscle up that.

Ackerman:
Well, I think first and foremost, you have to revisit what we’re going to teach them. So we have to A you have to take a step back and teach your members, there’s a difference between the strict and kipping muscle ups because 90 percent of the people your box are doing kipping muscle up. So that’s what your members see. Then they hop on the rings and they’re just flopping around like dead fish. They have no idea what they’re trying to do with their body. So getting them to understand and probably showing them what a strict muscle up looks like. And then starting to dive into the two technical pieces of the false script and then transition, you need to know the low transition. I’ve written articles about it. I know there’s plenty of videos out there, but really diving into the transition from the floor and showing people what that feels like.

Fern:
I think one of the big things from a. Like, if I’m running a class where this goes wrong more often than not is you have to prep you have to prep the floor.

Fern:
So where people blow this is they give the whiteboard brief if they do, the general warm up and then they realize they need to set up 10 sets of low rings.

Ackerman:
Your back even further than I land. Yeah. Yeah.

Fern:
Because you don’t you don’t have that time to set up 10 sets of rings now, particularly if they’re not some of the easier ones that are just clipping. If you have to feed it through the damn thing and then and then get them set up. I mean that’s a nightmare. That’s it. That’s a that’s a four day evolution to get four sets of rings.

Ackerman:
And that’s one of the things, hey, it’s worth spending some money and getting yourself better there’s straps.

Fern:
Well, that’s it. That’s the first thing is prep your gym, prep your floor space for all of the progressions. And that way, it’s a seamless transition. I don’t have to waste any time doing that, which is like I’m going to do this progression over here. These are the low rings that I want people to do this portion in. These are maybe the higher set of rings or these are the box is going to have people start from the from that Russian dip drill or from the floor. And then these are gonna be the high rings that were going gonna transition to. So that’s the first thing is like stage your class for the progressions that you want to teach in order to try to get somebody their first muscle up. Like if you’re not if you’re not going through some of those, that that’s a massive mistake. And we can use those movements as both a general and specific warm up for a workout like that.

Ackerman:
So you have your ring setup. You start to show these different points of the progression and different aspects of how to do it. Where would you begin, though? Let’s lay it out for. For someone coaching today to someone’s coaching a muscle up, whether it’s realistically to be like, hey, five rounds in his five muscle ups in a workout, per rounds. Where do we begin for the class? And then and then the next challenge to that is how do we keep the people that are doing muscle ups already? Moving forward.

Fern:
So this is this goes back to that teaching aspect, which is if people are bored, it’s because you’re not giving them any value. So nobody in your class moves perfectly, which means regardless of the drill that we’re doing, make it all clean it up, myself included. Like I’ve literally never been to a level one where somebody in that group, regardless of their skill level, could not be tuned up a little bit. So I would start everybody on the floor. Let’s just say let’s just do some basic pressing from the floor in multiple variations of a push up. So push ups from the knees, some sort of cobra. Press up where I’m leaving their hips on the floor. Just getting the body ready for some of that movement and then maybe transition to a Russian dip or a push up and then maybe pair that with some ring rows and then slowly talk to people about moving their feet forward and start working on the the false grip while they’re doing the rain rows. And at that point, if somebody can’t pull the rings to their sternum with their feet at something that is greater than 45 degree incline, then I kind of know some things about what needs to be dialed up for that progression.

Fern:
But I’m getting the basic components of the push up excuse me, the press or the ring tip and the pull for the pull up of the of the muscle up. I’m getting them warmed up for those in a, you know, lighter, loaded environment. Right. So we’ve changed the plane and we’ve we’ve put our feet on the floor so they’re not moving their full body weight. And then from there, what I can do is I can start teeing up different transitions, whether it’s like low rings, whether it’s people who are going to be using bands from a seated position. Am I going to have people in a straddle, all of that stuff and then I can spend 10 to 15 minutes just going through that. And at that point, like at the end of that, you’re going to know who’s ready to go to the high rings. And I don’t have to spend a ton of time on hiring. If you spend 15 minutes on the low rings, just working skills and drills, you need, I don’t know, two minutes to get on the high rings and play around for a second, then you’re ready to go.

Ackerman:
Do you teach and take that aspect of class like you would a level one and have people go up and to try their muscles in front of everybody?

Fern:
Not necessarily in front of everybody at some point. I’d like to.I like to think of the classes when what I’m teaching progressions is like their bus stops. So everybody goes and I’m just dropping people off at their different end destination, which is their variation of the progression. But that way I can take everybody through all of the progressions and I’m just dropping people off as I go and then I’m progressing the next group while simultaneously checking back on the previous bus stops that I had for people to make sure that they’re still doing well or to see if I might need to dial up the difficulty level of that progression.

Fern:
Be like, hey, I need you to move your feet forward or the rings need to be a little bit higher, bring those up six inches so that we can make it a little bit more difficult. Actually have to pull.

Fern:
Or if you’re doing jumping bar, muscle up a making sure that the height is appropriate. So they actually have the pull and they’re not just jumping over the bar and not really working on that sort of, you know, the actual transition of the elbows around aggressively. So having that goes all back to like laying the classroom out, walking people through that progression, which you can do fairly quickly while engaging everybody, making sure he’s got an appropriate progression and not leaving anybody out like, you know. And that’s the goal.

Ackerman:
Well, I like that, too. You said because I’ve been guilty of it , you realize there’s muscle ups. You go over to teach him and all of a sudden you realize, you know, five of our eight rings are up high. And we know that no one in class that can do those. So why didn’t I put them down lower to begin with, which is eating into now my 15 minutes of specific and general warm up to get them prepared..

Fern:
Go And then you go with the all they. All right, guys, go for a 400 meter run and then you scramble to get the rings down. Now, having wasted three minutes of your time line. Right, that you’re not going to get back to do something that we should have done prior to class.

Ackerman:
What have you found to be the most important steps in the transition to get people a muscle up? So, you know, someone joins obviously depends on their ability, but when they come in, their nutrition plays a role at some point because the muscle up is one of those movements where, you know, having additional body fat is not going to help you get over those rings.

Ackerman:
You need to develop some pull up strength. You need to have deep strains. But what are some of your favorite? Scaling options and favoring transition movements to help people get their muscle ups.

Fern:
Well, I actually don’t think it’s either either of those. I don’t think we’re going to expose anything groundbreaking from a progression or scaling standpoint in this podcast. Most of that stuff is on the Internet. I think what is largely missed is I think people just need some targeted accessory work, like they don’t have good upper back strength, which is going to be really hard to do if you’re not doing some isolation stuff in there. And this is where the accessory work comes in, which is, you know, people hate on that stuff. Maybe they do need to do some bicep curls. Oddly enough, you know what? The biceps are involved in the muscle up, as is the upper back. Right. So maybe we have them do stuff like bent over rows or dumbbell bent over rows, just getting a little bit more pulling strings. It’s thinking about those planes of movement. If eventually we’re gonna get to a kipping pull up or we’re teaching people to lean back and expose their eyes and access to the ceiling. Well, that goes from a frontal plain movement to a saget plane movement if I’m going to get that 90 degrees at the shoulder and the torso. Well, I can pull a lot of different ways from that Saget plane. I can be chest up or it can be chest down. What’s the easiest way to do that? And it’s like you some old school body building stuff, which is just upper body pulling from a in a controlled environment, whether it’s a barbell or whether it’s a dumbbell and just start building some strength.

Fern:
Like if you’ve got like some cable setups in your gym, like that’s a great place to start. You know, when I’m looking at one, another one I like to do this is when I learned it from Matt and Sheree Chan that I saw on their gym years ago, which is hook up a set of rings from like some lighter rubber bands. I just came from straps that hang from rubber bands and just work on seated transition with those rings that are in rubber bands because as I pull, the tension gets greater, which means I have to pull harder to get to the end range of motion in there. But I can do all of that with my butt on the floor while developing some strength and pulling. It’s kind of like a like a cable machine almost, but you’re just doing it with rings and rubber bands. So I think a lot of accessory work can help a lot of people very, very much in a big way there. But that stuff’s not sexy, but like just trying to muscle up over and over is also a shitty idea.

Ackerman:
Yeah. No, I think, you know, first of all, I love that movement. You just described from Matt and Sheree. I’ve seen it and definitely implemented with some classes. And I think big picture, what you’re saying is you can’t just get content and give people the same scaling options.

Ackerman:
Even for me, recently, I’ve been trying to experiment with some Banded options for my members, you know, for pull pull ups, for example. I had people on Friday strapped two bands to the rig, grab one in each hand and basically do an old school lap hold down.

Fern:
Yeah,.

Ackerman:
But it was just something that I’d seen recently. And I was like, let’s try this. And the ladies loved it or toes the bar rather than just doing candlesticks on the ground. Put a band on the rig, put a piece of PPC through the band so they had to engage their laps as well. I think big picture is you’re only limited by your creativity from a scaling standpoint.

Fern:
That’s something again, we talk about the level one as your options should be varied, maybe if not more than your programming in general. So I’m a big proponent of not using the same scaling option two times in a row. Whatever you did for scaling on the muscle last time, we’re not doing that variation this time. I’m going to try to make it more difficult. And and again, that is the hard part is like finding something that is difficult because here’s a little tip for everybody. Your members hate it when you give them shit. That is easy to do. Regardless of it, like what it looks like, they appreciate it and they will like it if it is difficult and it doesn’t have to be overly complex to be difficult.

Ackerman:
I agree with that, especially a day like the muscle ups. There’s nothing, nothing worse for the members in coming in. Watching the handful of people do muscle ups, a handful of people kind of knowing their scaling option and then they feel like he just gave me banded pull ups.

Fern:
Or they’re just like, I’m going to do this transition my feet on the floor. That requires like very no strength whatsoever. You know, that’s that’s a. Again, I’ve done that and I’ve been that guy. So you really have to identify why this is so difficult is like you really have to get creative and you really need to start kind of filling up that tool box with as many possible scaling progressions as you can possibly find for the muscle up. Because that is the only way to get people even remotely close to attaining that skill level.

Ackerman:
And this you know, we recently had Chris Hinshaw in our private mentor group doing a special call for our members. And one of the things he discussed was, you know, your members need to take ownership. And I think a lot of what we’re saying to is giving to your members that ownership be.

Ackerman:
Hey, what did you do for your last time? We did muscle ups, because maybe you didn’t coach them or maybe it was two months ago and you forgot. And then also, like you said, kind of, well, where do you feel like you’re weak in the muscle? This is the pull, the dip. Do you know the false grip? Do you know the transition? If I give you some homework, will you do it? Because I’ll tell you guys that are listening when you get someone their muscle up. I don’t have any data to support this, but they are more likely to stay as a member.

Fern:
Member for life.

Yeah, it’s just you know, there’s like that turning point where it’s almost like you get your Crossfit, card, if you will. Like there’s nothing wrong with never getting a muscle up. Totally fine. You’re still a great person. I mean, you might be an asshole, but hey, that’s not way. But but the point is, if I can take someone new in over the course of a month, three months, six months, a year, even get them to develop their muscle up there. They’re buying into what were doing?

Fern:
Yeah.

Fern:
And the other way to give them ownership is eliminate their excuses, which means I have to be able to provide them with a lot of different options. I have to be able to they’re like, well, you only give them one scaling option. Your members don’t know what they don’t know. So my job is to expose them to so much information over time, obviously not in the 60 minute window that they don’t have an excuse to not work on that. If they don’t have an inverted ring row with a false script to the sternum, maybe they should have that front in a plank position for those we don’t know what inverted ring Row is. It would be if my feet are on a box and I lay myself down hanging from the rings such that my shoulders are lower than my feet when my arms are fully extended and then pulling in a false grip toward my hands or my thumbs or at my sternum. That’s hard to do even for somebody who’s pretty strong. So if you’re not exposing them to all these drills, you’re not exposing them to what their weaknesses are. They’re they’re going to not have a really hard time taking ownership of like getting better at those things. So it’s my job to teach them where the holes are and then give them solutions for how to fill those holes.

Ackerman:
And as coaches, it’s important for us to remember your members want specifics. So I had been guilty in the past. You know, for muscle ups. or Even for the Banded pull downs I taught on Friday. I’m kind of like, oh, you like those? Go do some and then. Well, how many? All right. You know, go give me five sets of 20. They’ll go do it. It is a like squat therapy. There is a great example teach squad therapy and almost always will. How many should I do? Your members want that. And when you give them that now they have a goal, they have a target, and they’re far more likely to accomplish it. And we know a lot more. We know when we say, hey, go work on this, what we would do. Give them that homework. And, you know, and maybe it’s hey, you know, every day from now until I see you again, I want you doing these. You know, whether it’s inverted ring rows, alternating with dumbbell rows, like you said. Yeah. Working some of those auxiliary movements, but giving your members at homework. That’s what’s going to keep them coming back. And that’s right. I’ve seen plenty of people develop a muscle up with only coming to class, but it’s usually the people that spend a few minutes here and there. You know, I always love seeing the women who when they get really excited about Crossfit, and want to get their pull ups, they’ll do volume or they’ll do ring rows after class. Do you know five by five pull ups? We need to be able to give our members that so they can go off and do a little more, but not take forever and be working towards a specific goal.

Fern:
Yeah. And to people who who elaborate on this on who elaborate on this really well, were Chuck Bennington who’s on the show, and then Pamela Gagnon. And if you’re looking for information like go no further than those two pages as far as their Instagram handles, because you will find an incredible amount of scaling options and progressions for the muscle up that you can implement in your class that are going to be difficult for everyone, regardless of whether they have a muscle up or not. So going back to how do I keep people engaged? Well, you need to be more equipped with different scaling options of different progressions and having people understand that, you know, holding a hollow rock for 30 seconds is going to help you get a muscle up.

Ackerman:
Ya know. First of all, you at Chapter and Pam are great. And if anyone’s listening and wants to take the gymnastics course, hit us up. We have a discount code to save you 20 percent of the gymnastics course, which in my opinion was the most valuable, especially because I did at the time and I took it. I’ve probably taken it five times over the years and in its different iterations, but it continues to evolve and be great. So hit us up on social media if you want to code for that. But agreed. And part of what you’re saying is. So for me, a lot of times when I have five extra minutes in a class, I’ll throw in like it to tabata hollow hold for my members I’ll throw in. You know something? But I do explain the importance and where that transition is. And that’s another key component to getting your members to buy in. And ownership is OK. Yeah. Now, I do understand why this position is so important, why I should work so hard at it. And getting your members to understand all these concepts is is tremendous.

Fern:
The other thing that I think is important is trying to set up scenarios where we limit. So let’s let’s switch gears here.

Fern:
Let’s let’s move away from people that are working on the muscle up to people that have the muscle up, but wouldn’t necessarily fall in that bucket of like they’re really proficient at the muscle up. They’ve got them. But it’s intermittent at best. They don’t they never can do a huge volume. And this is another area where I think people really blow this. And it’s one of those things where it’s just the scaling option that we need to take a real hard look at volume. So in our gym at Crossfit, Rife, I’m I’m a big proponent of if you have a skill.

Fern:
So let’s think double under, muscle up, pull up. We are going to do that skill. In whatever volume is appropriate, and that could be two reps, because we have to remember that if they’re if they’re not proficient at, it’s probably pretty difficult for them to do so.

Fern:
They’re expending a lot of energy to get very low volume. So it’s it’s relative in that matter. But we’re a lot of people. Will coaches will blow this because it’s easier is they will immediately scale down so that this person can get higher volume instead of making them work to get lower volume out of more complex skill. So in our gym, if you have a muscle up, you’re gonna do muscle ups, even if that means one muscle per round. And the goal is that we avoid failure in some of those more complex movements at all costs, meaning like if you need to take an extra 30 seconds, take the extra 30 seconds. But I want one muscle up. And I think that’s far more valuable than trying to have them rack up a ton of volume, doing some sort of scaled version from the floor because they already have a muscle up.

Ackerman:
I love that you kind of bring up a topic that I want to take a quick tangent on. When you’re saying that you made me think there’s always people in our workouts, in our classes, that at some point during the workout, when they see other people moving, they think they’re moving slowly. So they start to scale themselves, be it rate or be it movement. And you made me think of that because if you’re like, hey, go slower, but make sure you do it. They’re going to see everybody, whether it’s moving beyond and they’re going to say, well, forget what coach said. I need to get more reps and then falling behind. How do we teach people the importance of it doesn’t matter where other people are doing where they are? Everyone’s doing their own thing. Don’t take five pounds off the bar so you can move a little fast.

Fern:
For people like this, I will give them the focus for the day. So like I will, I will. My guides to a lot of people is like, hey, be good at what you’re good at. Manage what you’re bad at. So if you’re great at the barbell, here’s what I want you do. I want you to smash the barbell today. Like I want you to go full ham, blow that thing up. Then when you get to the muscle up, I want you to throttle back and I want you to concentrate and take your time. And I’ll give them a focus and I’ll say something. The focus is we’re gonna get this many muscle ups, zero failures, however much rest you need to take in order to make that happen is what we’re going to do. So I’m I’m trying to get them buy in on what the focus for today is to help them, because they want that skill. They want to be better at that skill. So they’re they’re very likely to agree with that guidance. So I will give them the intent and tell them, you know what I want to happen, but also what I don’t want to happen.

Fern:
Say, hey, if we fail, that one counts, move on. We’re not going to sit here and fail and fail and fail and fail and fail. We’re we’re building and we’re putting a lot of emphasis on shitty movement patterns if we’re failing, failing, failing, failing, failing. So I want to get away from that as much as possible and I’ll have people that do that. Let’s say it’s a, you know, whatever, six rounds and it’s you know, it’s prescribed at five muscle ups per round. But I’m gonna to have them do two and they might miss the second muscle up at around three. I told them to slow down and then they come back and they get two and two around four and five. For me, that’s a win. We didn’t check a box of no failure, but I did keep them within the window of where I wanted to be, which is like, take your time, concentrate on good movement, work on the skill, and when you get to the barbell, dial it back up.

Ackerman:
And what would you say to them if they’re like in the middle of getting frustrated because they see their peers moving faster?

Fern:
I told the concentrate on themselves like, hey, you’re you’re concentrating on the wrong things. Like what they’re doing is not gonna help you get a muscle up. So stay focused and then I’ll just get them to move on. You know, if they’re missing and they’re failing, I don’t want them to spend any more time dwelling on it. Move on. Go to the barbell. Want you to smash the barbell going broke. And don’t put it down when you come back here. We’ll talk about this when you get back.

Ackerman:
I think that’s just an important lesson as coaches to take and to try to implement. You know, we we see our members and sometimes were tired, sometimes or frustrated. You’ve you’ve coached hundreds of people that day. And it’s easy to just get frustrated with them versus stopping and thinking, could I be remedying this right now? If your members are doing something, even something silly, like putting too much chalk on their hands, they don’t know any better.

Ackerman:
Like your members aren’t just rubbing chalk on their hands because they enjoy it, they’re doing it because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do. So rather than getting frustrated with them, use that as a coaching opportunity.

Fern:
And you’ve got to teach them. You’re coaching them through that workout, right, like through every aspect of the workout, not just the physical portion of it, but like the psychological portion of it. Like if you’re not adept at picking up on people’s, you know, physical cues when they start to get down on themselves like it’s something to pay attention to, like. Well, what are their facial expressions look like? Does their body position change? Those are all things that I want to be pre-emptive about. And if I can head that off at the pass before it gets too bad, I can recover the workout. I can turn that potentially negative experience into a positive, prevent them from being an idiot and then highlighting what they the good decision that we made a mid workout.

Ackerman:
I mean, I heard Donny Fobrbis one say saying and it’s obvious we’ve all said it, but it’s like that’s the art of coaching. You know, we talk about the technique and intensity lecturing like balancing safety, efficacy and efficiency. And it’s it’s really that’s the art of coaching. And that’s what you just said. And that’s harder to learn than we. And we have our ten thousand hours there. But I think you and I can kind of manage that as we go, you know. But for a lot of coaches, you have to think about is. How do I get this person to have their best hour, to have the best experience here and you have to balance. Well, they need to, like you said, to be doing something challenging and hard. They also feel like they’ve succeeded at the end. So did the other day. We filmed an episode of me coaching for our private group. Something that we try to do is put some of our coaching out there for our members to see what higher level coaching looks like. And it was a every three minutes. And it ended with handstand pushups. And I had a woman named Leighanne I love in class because she loves getting pushed. She scaled from 15 to 10 for the first three rounds. And I said okay Leighanne round four I need to get twelve. She did it and said, you know the deal now last round, I need you to get 15 handstand pushups in three minutes. Has this round ends She got to 14 and she failed, she failed. And in my mind I’m like, I don’t want to ruin this class for her. She was ecstatic that she did two more in the last round four more. So you have to know that about your different people. If she was someone that would be down on herself, I wouldn’t have given her that bigger challenge. And that’s the art of coaching. And it just takes time and experience to learn.

Fern:
And I think one of the one of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that it’s okay to cut people off and move them on like in the middle of a round. If I see that these failures are starting to stack up, it’s my job as a coach to intervene and tell them to move on, because guess what? Nobody speeds up at the back half of a workout. They don’t get more energy. Their muscles don’t get less fatigue. You have to know that. OK, move on. Let’s try to come back to it fresh on the next round or the next workout. You know, so it’s OK to be hey Last attempt and then we’re gonna move on. We’re spending too much time here. Like this is not the point of the workout.

Ackerman:
And your members want to move on at that point.

Fern:
Yeah. They don’t want to flail around. And look, they’re all they’re doing is feeling bad about themselves because all they’re thinking about is everybody’s watching me fail these these reps, even though nobody’s watching them fail. Those reps their own world, but that’s what they’re thinking about. So they’re in a lot of cases like they’re begging for you to come over and tell them to stop. So just tell them to stop. Again, it’s all it’s about good movement patterns. If they’re just failing, failing, failing, those are not good movement patterns. The other thing as far as trying to avoid that scenario is, you know, it goes back to the whiteboard brief, which is like you have to paint a picture. And generally where this goes wrong for somebody who has a movement but is not super proficient of it is we’ve dialed up the an inappropriate amount of volume. So if it’s a six round or five round workout or six round work, let’s go 30 reps total. Let’s say it’s five rounds and it’s six muscle ups per round. Tell everybody it’s 30 muscle ups. I know that sounds stupid. Tell them it’s 30 muscle ups because they’re not thinking about the number 30. They’re thinking about six. They’re like, I can do six. Can you do it five times? Because that’s 30. They’re gonna give you that. That big. I’d look like 30 is a lot. And I’m like, yeah, I know it’s basic multiplication, but you were not thinking about that. So what’s an appropriate volume? Like, well, I think I could do 50 and you’re like, OK, cool, then let’s do three per round rather than six. They’ll bite off on that because now they have like the bigger picture and sometimes it’s my job to expose them to that. And then what I’m gonna do is we’re going to celebrate that success at the end of the end of the class J. Great job. No misses. Got all 15. And we got and we got 15 muscle ups in this workout. That’s awesome. Next time we’ll try to push to something to 20.

Ackerman:
I think in both of those examples, whether it’s cutting them off or setting them up for success in the beginning. Have that conversation at the end, Hey, I cut you off on round four, and we dropped it because I wanted you to achieve X, Y and Z going forward or hey, how was 15? You think you could handle the 18? Next time you looked like you were stringing them together, maybe the first round will go for unbroken versus three and the goal is to maintain that. So, you know, big lesson for all of this is keep that open line of communication with your members. Any any last minute thoughts on the Muscle ups and I have a. Funny story I like to share.

Fern:
Yeah, I’m shocked by that. No, I think it’s just, you know, like I don’t think many of us and probably double unders falls in the same category as the muscle up where we don’t spend enough time trying to arm ourselves with enough tools to get people those fractional improvements, which is how the muscle up and things like the double under work. Like I’m not going to make these leaps and bounds improvements in one class. I’m going to do that in little tiny incremental portions. Class over class or six to 12 month period. So we constantly have to dial up new things that are progressively kind of pushing them their envelope, progressively making things more difficult. Whether it’s moving the feet, moving the rigs, using different objects, you know, scaling the volume, all that stuff. But that is how you keep people coming back as that continual challenge because they’re thinking about that challenge next time they come in.

Ackerman:
Yeah, I think muscle ups and double unders and other high skill movements have worth having a special class in your box every so often.

Fern:
For sure.

It could be an opportunity to charge members twenty dollars ahead. And whether it’s pay yourself or pay your coach or you want to put it out there for free. I think I’ve learned if you charge people, they’re a little more you know, they they’re more likely to be accountable for it and more likely to practice it. Maybe you put in some homework that they have to do at the end and plus you deserve to get paid for your time. But I found muscle up clinics of one of the most well attended things that we’ve done in the boxes in the past. I know. And North Naples Crossfit,. They have one coming up in the next two weeks and it’s gonna be sold out. So I highly recommend offering that.

Ackerman:
My last muscle up story and we can wrap it up after this. And hopefully we covered everything. You have more questions for us. Of course, that is. So I go from the upstairs of the Corn Club and I finally opened my downstairs space and was before there were rigs and everything. So I actually had this welder fabricate basically a one really high pull up bar. It was on like a square stand, so it didn’t. It rocked a little bit.

Ackerman:
Basically, it had one set of rings. So over in the corner of eight hundred square feet was one set of rings. Talk about not maximizing floor space. So I get this set up that we couldn’t get it into the room long store. We had to basically cut it apart, put it back together, etc. So it’s up there and I’m like, all right, this is it. I’m going to record myself. I’m going to do 30 must love as motivated by that. Rob Miller videos like I can do that. And at the time, if you did stuff like that, Crossfit, would make you the video of the day.

Fern:
Yeah.

Ackerman:
This is gonna be great. I’m going to be on Crossfit,. Com. I’m going to be a web liberty. Everyone’s gonna love me and I get up on my guard three to one set up the camera. This wasn’t like a phone at the time. It’s like a had of those little video cameras. Hit my first muscle. I’m like, wow, that felt good. I’m going to string together to hit my second muscle up. Come down. Shake it out. Go up to do my third could not do another muscle. I was done. I had Max out and that was it. Like, I literally couldn’t do another muscle. I just failed. For about the next 20 minutes. And finally, shut the camera. Walk away defeated.

Fern:
Do you still have that video? I think we should post it.

Ackerman:
You know, it’s funny, I don’t end the video, but if you I’ve seen it deal with all the Crossfit, YouTube channel has like all of my old cheesy videos. So if you need something fun to you, go to the Albany Crossfit, YouTube channel and just go through the old videos. The very first video I ever made, which was like terribly cheesy set to rocky music. Those two muscle ups are in there, but the rest of it isn’t. Yeah. Those and I did. I think I set him up like one and a half speed because they were so ugly and slow.

Fern:
I feel like one we witness you do the 50 back squats at 185bls as can be very similar. It’s about muscle of experience.

Ackerman:
I’ll get to it in failure. Then just tap out. A lot of people have reached out to me in support of 50 back square in Denver.

Fern:
And to give you the moral support.

Ackerman:
Yes, they’re behind. Well, support. They’re behind me. I’m the fan favorite of the three of us. Obviously, Todd is.

Fern:
Gonna need all of that support.

Ackerman:
Yeah, Todd is like the iron chic of the 80s wrestling. And I’m I’ll call again. You know, fans hate him.

Fern:
I want to be a junkyard dog,

Ackerman:
So I could see that. But no, a lot of people reached out and asked if they can join on the challenge. Of course. You’re welcome to do it. We’re excited to see you hit 50 back squats . We’ve had people do it. But this is a challenge between myself and myself. That’s it.

Ackerman:
And now got.

Fern:
I like that your teeing yourself up to it. This is a win win either way, right?

Ackerman:
We’re gonna see it a couple of weeks later.

Fern:
I can’t wait anything else for the muscle up. Anything you want to [add].

Ackerman:
No. You know, I think I think we’ve really covered it all. It goes back to, hey, don’t sleep on different options. You know, change them up. Figure out what you can do for your members. Come into class. Set yourself up for success. Plan your day out and give some homework out and communicate with your athletes. I really don’t think we could have said it any better than that.

Fern:
Cool.

Ackerman:
All right, guys. Another great episode of Best Hour of the Day. If you have more questions on the muscle up, please hit us up. And Hey Ferm we’re also five reviews away from one hundred on Apple.

Fern:
So I will I will talk to my mom and see if she will give us a review.

Ackerman:
Yes. I was going to ask you again. You know, Mama Fernandez said to write us something on there. And you know, your wife, your two kids. Logan First Day kindergarten today.

Fern:
You said first day of school today. So I’ll see if she’s come see if she comes back ready to write a review. And if not, I’ll talk to the teacher.

Ackerman:
Yeah, I mean, is that not the first thing they learn? Hey, guys. Open up your phone to a at this point.

Fern:
Itunes everybody. Itunes reviews at best hour of their day.

Ackerman:
So if you are listening and you enjoy our episodes, we are only five reviews away so you can make a difference. And I don’t know what difference it makes other than it makes me feel better about what we’re doing every day. And that’s it. Make a make a make this man happy. That’s all I ask you of you guys. All right, Vern, great chat on the muscle up. We’ll be back next week. And we’ve got some great interviews coming your way all week long right here on best hour of their day.

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