One of the hardest things to understand when it comes to MU’s is if you should false grip or not. Here are some questions that I hear daily….

1) When first learning a MU, which grip should I use and why?

2) Why would I choose one over the other?

3) I can do a false grip MU but am not able to accomplish an open handed MU. Why is that?

4) Why can’t I swing as much with a false grip?

In the next few posts I will do my best to answer the questions.With that being said, my perspective is  geared toward the sport of crossfit.  There are MANY different coaching methods on how to get someones MU for the first time but this is what has given me the most success when an athlete is close. It is very challenging as a coach to be able to differentiate if the athlete has the strength to accomplish one or they are just lacking enough body awareness to put it all together.

The very FIRST thing I do is have the athlete attempt a MU. How am I going to coach a movement if I have no idea of what I have to work with? That is where I believe many coaches go wrong at the beginning. Throwing 90 different verbal cues at the athlete causes a sense of “paralysis through analysis”. This is true with coaching in all sports. The right verbal cue can be effective when it is concise and descriptive. Chose a single verbal cue for the athlete to focus on and address one issue at a time.

To answer question number one, I always teach an athlete a MU using the false grip and that is with engaged arms. (picture below)



There are exceptions, being a very athletic person who can walk in the gym and accomplish it on their first attempt after only watching a demo of it. In regards to the false grip with engaged arms The reason the false grip is simple, it eliminates multiple variables simplifying the process. Those variables being:

When the athlete goes into the false grip with their arms already engaged, this provides tension throughout the upper body. Shoulders are externally rotated with the lats and shoulders now activated making a physical reaction easier to accomplish. Once they are in this position, I then have them focus only on their kip. Once they kip and the power transfers through the body, because their upper body is already engaged, the transition then becomes possible. You HAVE to understand the timing though for success. The kip has to happen first which will then transfer power into the pull. After this is where the transition will then happen. This is the point in time that I mentioned up top where the coach has to be able to identify if the athlete physically can achieve the MU or are they just not strong enough.

What if the athlete does everything correct but actually doesn’t know what to do when transition time shows up? (this happens a lot)
I will put the athlete on a low set of rings and have them practice the transition. There are multiple ways to practice this which I will get into in the near future.

The Reason why I don’t teach an open handed grip MU at first is because the athlete already has a lot to think about. When first learning an open handed MU, you have to consciously move your hands on the transition. If you don’t know that, 99% it won’t happen. you will have a death grip and miss a MU every time. Once you can do MU’s consistently, I will then entertain the idea of an open handed MU.

Strength work:

4×8 false grip pull-ups while in hollow position- rest 60 seconds. Use a band for assistance if needed. I want the pulls to be EXPLOSIVE!


Coach Poppa