My First Muscle Up
I remember when I first saw the CrossFit Games back in 2011. I remember watching like mostly everyone else at that time and just thinking that those guys were something out of the movie 300. I mean I was certain they were descendants of Leonidas himself. I remember watching the rope climb and clean and jerk event and thinking - well, I could do that. I just didn’t look like them. Then, as for many of us that get struck with amazement, I saw them doing muscle-ups. It was an event that had ghd sit-ups, farmer carries, and muscle ups, I believe. I have to double check on that. But, I specifically remember looking at them and IMMEDIATELY thinking, “Man, I could never do that.”
If you know me now, you would laugh at the fact that that thought passed through my brain, but it did. I was certain that I would never be able to get to that level of body control. Now, this didn’t stop me from trying to learn, I was already at a CrossFit gym so I had cleared that first hurdle. My mindset has always been that if you present me with something I can’t do; I’m going to investigate this thing inside and out until I can do it. It’s just my nature. So, I knew I could do dips and I was fairly competent at doing pull-ups but with so many movements we do, there’s quite a learning curve even if you have the pre-requisite strength, and even more so with the muscle-up. I didn’t really have anyone to teach me or tell me what I was doing wrong.
My first CrossFit gym was more of an environment where you worked out on your own and a coach might jump in a work out along side you; there wasn’t really any coaching going on. I knew that I first had to get comfortable landing in the catch position of the muscle up so I started by standing on a box under the rings and just practicing jumping into that dip position and then pressing out of it. I would do this over and over and over until it felt very natural. The next step was being able to do a strict one. I had seen enough videos on youtube that I figured I understood what a real false grip was. I was sadly mistaken. The strict muscle up eluded me for quite some time but I was getting more and more comfortable just getting up on the rings. Finally, after a lot of practice of just sitting in a hang with that grip, I was able to do one. Now, came stringing reps together. I couldn’t figure out how to maintain my false grip while trying to string reps together so I knew I had to ditch that grip. Generally, there’s greater room for error and injury when you’re stringing reps together without the false grip. So what did I do? I would do one rep and then slowly lower myself to ensure I could go right into my next rep the exact way I wanted to. I knew I had to return in the same fashion as a regular kipping pull-up. So I practiced this over and over and over.
There are plenty of things in life that we are CERTAIN we could NEVER do. I had never been so sure of something in that moment I saw them doing it on tv. But, like most things in life, our perceptions are not reality. They’re just a reality we conjure up in our brain to prevent us from ever trying something for either fear of failure or other limiting factors. The things we’re scared of in life really aren’t that scary. You just have to break them down step by step and piece by piece into a thing that you’re 10,000% certain you can do. You then have to perfect that part you can do. You have to do it over and over and over until it’s something you could get right in your sleep. These pieces end up getting put together and eventually that thing you were once certain would never happen, does.
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