T Nation

Incorporating a Dumbbell Muscle-Up Variation into Weightlifting Routine

In the years where I’ve been away from T-nation, I picked up gymnastics as a sport. One of the limits is that I am a big (6 foot 1)/ heavy (~86kgs) guy.

[big/heavy for gymnastics is probably a lot lighter than a lot of people on this site.]

It took me a decent amount of time to get the ring muscle up working, but I’ve now had it for a few years. I’ve made slow progress – because its hard on your tendons and because unlike the little guys who can bang them out, I am always going for max reps at a heavy weight (~86kgs).

Over lockdown I decided to focus on Iron cross, and I ended up making a lot of progress based on an old t nation article https://www.t-nation.com/training/iron-cross-for-bodybuilders that focused on doing it upside down with gravity boots and dumbells.

To initiate the inverted db iron cross you have to get the dumbells off the floor to your sides, and the easiest way of doing this is a muscle up; i.e. you do a false grip pull up to get them off the floor, then you do a dip to get them up to your hips.

When I was doing this I realised that this gave me the chance to practice womething that is very close to ring muscle up but allows me to go lighter and thus hit more volume; which is better for developing tendon strength and hopefully getting to the stage where I can do high volumes of muscle up with body weight.

This is awesome, but I have to work out how to fit it into a program.

Currently I am doing 3 drop sets with dumbells whenever I am in the gym. My most recent session looked like

Muscle ups to failure for 3 sets; 3 reps, 2 reps, 0 reps each with 90 second reps

Inverted dumbel muscle ups:

24kgX5, 20 kgX3; 90 second rest

24kgX5, 20 kgX3; 90 second rest

24kgX3, 20 kgX4,16kgX4; 90 second rest

This felt good because the dbs weigh a lot less than me and let me practice form/develop tendon strength and eliminate momentum, but I can’t help thinking I could optimise this some more.

Currently I am doing this at the start of my work out, because the MU and its variant use the majority of muscles in the torso/arms.

Would you do straight sets with a rep goal rather than drop sets?

Would you put this at the start or the end of your work out?

Would you time your rests differently?