The Mens Fitness video, featuring Andrew Stemler: How to muscle up on rings.

On this page we give you some upper body training ideas  based around Elite Ring training and great tips about pull-Ups..... Repeat after me, Pull ups are my friend, I love them very much.

If you want to train with Londons leading personal trainer, drop Andrew Stemler an email on 


but lets start with those who have "NO PULL UPS"

Once you have a few pull ups, its 'easy' to keep adding to them. The real hard one is  getting that 1st pull up. I've struggled for 3 months to post a genuine article about getting your 1st pull up. This  is my 1st public draft.

I hope it helps.


If you have no pull ups, here are some essential things you must do.
1) get a pull up bar at home. Id say this wont guarantee success, but not having one at home will guarantee failure. Do not rely on getting to the gym, or to us for that matter. Also its  a private matter  between you and the bar: basically you have bar "issues" and sometimes its best to deal with "issue" in private

2) understand that a pull up is not  a rubbishy exercise like all those silly piltates wiggles and squirms that you do. Pulls ups are a predictive happiness test. If you have no pulls ups ( and this is especially true of ladies) No one of quality will want to marry you. If you refuse to get that 1st pull up, stop reading this and go and get some cats. That's all you will be good for.

3) look at your weight. Pull ups will be harder to get if you are over weight. That does not mean you wait until you are the "right weight" .Get going now. It will be harder, but as I often say. "you ate it, now hump it"  Actually, to take  a side step, if you are overweight dont set yourself the task of loosing a few pounds before you do anything, start living your life now- if you are overweight, and are miserable because you are lonely and boyfriendless/girlfriendless/loverless, put your details up on the raunchiest BBW site that your morality can stand, and hold on to your hat!  Big Girls and boys are always in demand,

You can only loose weight if you are  happy: beating off would be lovers with a stick. Is a very practical and measurable marker of happiness. Sitting at home feeling fat and ugly, makes you fat and ugly.  Sorry, that not really  about pull ups is it.


So, you cannot pull up. but you have your bar up. hopefully you can reach it by standing on the floor, or on a  low stool

objective 1, can you hang from the bar with your palms facing away from you ( for those in the know, this is the chin up grip thats a bit easier to begin with)

objective 2 can you hang  a bit longer
objective 3 can you hang a bit longer than objective 2. ( can you see where this is going)
To save a lot of time, can you get to hang on your bar for 10 seconds? when you can , go woohoo ( loudly so as to annoy your neighbours) and start on working out how to do your 1st negative.


Your 1st what?


Well in highly technical terms, right, theres the pulling up bit right, and then there's the lowering bit. Innit. At the moment you are not strong enough to do the pulling up bit, like, but if you were, er,   kind of already up there, maybe you could, er  lower yourself down a bit.  Alright.

Does sort of rather beg the question of "how do i get up there" Well here is the Andrew Stemler "Getting it up guide" ( apparently this is a good title that always sells)

  1. Jumping. Grab the pull up bar  but  instead of trying to pull yourself up, jump up so that your chin is above the bar .This can be easier said than done
  1. By standing on something.  Just stand on something that is high enough for you to start out in that already-pulled-up position.  a bench, a chair, whatever. Anything you can use as a mini-ladder would be perfect. Perhaps even a mini ladder
  1. Stand on something  "version 2"  Grab the bar and make your loser boy or girlfriend  (perhaps the one you got from the BBW site) grab your ass and push you up

Now, once you're in that top position, you're ready to do the negative part of the pull up. So, lower yourself down as slow and controlled as you possibly can. Focus on keeping really tight. I dont mean refuse to lend people money or get drunk, I mean "have  lot of tension in your body. Squeeze ( your own) bottom together.  Brace your abs, squeeze your legs together.

Your 1st lower ( we will call it negatives from now on) will either be agonisingly slow and hurt like hell, or you will fall straight through as you discover you have no strength: at all.
Once you have lowered yourself . Pop off the bar and reflect. Negatives are  very taxing. You need rest between each one and you should never do more than 6 to 8 in a session.So here is you beginner CHIN UPS FOR HAPPINESS  programme

Day  1) neg, neg, neg, neg,neg ( 120 secs rest between each negative)

Rest a day ( drink, eat cake, take all sorts of drugs. Smoking is especially good for you these days as it gets you out in the fresh air

Day 2 neg, neg, neg, neg, neg ( secs rest between each negative) ( so its not just day 1 repeated, its the same but with less rest!)


Rest a day ( put your own joke in!)

Day 3 neg, neg, neg, neg , neg (120 secs between each negative)


rest a day


Day 4 The next workout needs you to get that looser boyfriend/girlfriend again. basically they are going to try and help you pull yourself up and down. ( they get behind you, grab you... somewhere.... experiment) then they assist you to do....3 sets of  as many reps  as you can  with 120 seconds between,  so they grab you, and haul you up and down as many times as you can. Could be 1, you could do 2. 0r 6. Rest 120 seconds, Do it again 2 more times. Its my way of getting your body to see what the actual task is.

No a lat pull down machine is not a good substitution.

BTW. the set is over when they cannot push you anymore, not when you feel like it. You will want to stop early as it feels as it you are not doing the work: in fact its mainly you

But, what if you cannot get anyone to help you?


Well thats beyond this article:  but ideas could be to go next door and bug your neighbour, call up your x-wife.  Perhaps the guy selling the big issue fancies a couple of quid extra. Get creative, and find someone. Join a religious group and offer to host a scripture reading and slip your set in before you start as "movement prayer"

Rest 2 daysneg, neg, neg,neg, neg ( 90 secs rest)

2 days rest.

now its the big test. Get someone to help you do 1/2 easy  supported reps. Rest for  2 minutes.  Then  do your 1 pull up ( woohoo!) or hang there trying for 7 seconds. Then with 120 seconds rest neg, neg, neg.

If you  get that  pull up come and talk to us about getting more,  if not return to the beginning and start again. If you are very weak it could take many passes through to get your 1st pull up. But this regime works.



Crossfit London HQ
and training venue is

Unit 9
Malcolm place 
Bethnal Green,
E2 0EU

for more details



If you have nowhere to pull up from, check out Iron Gym, a demountable pull up bar   that seems to be  a customer friendly bit of kit.Its sold by  JML  Follow this link for some more info. If you look at the video, beware of the cheesy voice. ( I think you can get it from "all good stores", approx £30)



 the A-Z Of Pull Up Training

By Graham Hayes

A - Active Shoulder The shoulders are said to be active in the pull up if they are shrugged or "in the ears" at the bottom phase of the pull up, and pulled back as the athlete begins to ascend. Pursuing active use of the shoulders in the pull up gives a longer line of motion thus more work and more power. It facilitates the swing in the kipping pull up, meaning faster cycle time and more pull ups. And also protects the shoulders from the harsh loads that can occur from a plyometric exercise like the kipping pull up. Training tip: Practice shrugging while hanging with full arm extension from a pull up bar or rings to develop your shoulders strength.

B - Big Chest A pull up should be led with the chest. This is facilitated by pulling the shoulders back and looking up. Training tip: Reinforce the big chest by Pulling to the bar so that your chest makes contact.

C - "C" Shape The beginning of the kipping pull up is initiated by driving the chest forward and letting your feet go behind. In profile your body will be in a "C" shape.
D - Dead Hang Pull Up A dead hang pull up is a pull up from the bottom position of the pull up where no momentum or conserved tension will assist the next pull up. This is a useful style of pull up for building strength in beginner ath letes.Training tip: Although harder than strict pull ups it's possible to rest in the hang and get a few more pull ups. Try getting 2 or 3 more when you think you're spent on a max pull up test.

E - Elbow Driven When ascending don't think about flexing your arms, instead visualise driving your elbows down to the ground.

F - Firty-Forty-Fifty Pull Ups Some guys might think their hot stuff doing a set of fifteen half range of motion pull ups at the health spa, but for a real CrossFit standard of performance you need to be thinking thirty. Then forty. Then fifty. Everyone is capable of getting thirty pull ups, those that never make it are simply lazy. Beyond fifty is the realm of specialisation, if you love pull ups then push beyond the half century. If you have less than thirty pull ups now, then resolve to fix it within a year.

G - Grease The Groove Grease the groove is a method made popular by Pavel T where short non-challenging sets of an exercise are taken throughout the day. For example an athlete with a max of twenty pull ups will do a set of ten at three different times in a day. He'll focus on staying fresh and making each rep a quality rep. This is a great way to boost your max set. Training tip: Set up a permanent pull up bar in a place you go by several times a day. Every time you pass the pull up bar, do a set of pull ups at 40-60% of your best.

H - Hanging Hanging from the bar is a good way for beginners to build arboreal strength.The stronger athlete can hang with varying degrees of arm flexion up to the top of the pull up. This is an isometric exercise and will build strength quickly and also work your grip. Training tip: Do competitive hang offs with a training partner to see who is the last athlete hanging. This adds some fun to a boring and painful exercise.

I - Injuries The most common injury with large amounts of pull up training is to the tendons on the inside of the elbows. At it's most pleasant they will be a little tender the next day, at it's worst you won't be able to extend your arms at all. Keep an eye on the volume of pull ups that you are doing or planning to do. Going from 100 a month to 100 a day is a good way to lose the use of your arms. Remember to build the volume incrementally. And never be ashamed to scale a workout if the volume is much higher than you have been previously doing. However if like the author you aren't too bright and overenthusiastic about training, both requisites for a high fitness level, then you will inevitably mess your arms up. I found that gentle exercises without weights that move the shoulder through its ranges of motion without arm flexion to be beneficial as gravity tugs softly at your elbow joint. Examples are front raises, lateral raises and slow swinging of the arm in clockwise and anti-clockwise, remember all without weights and keeping the arm as straight as your injuries allow. The bands mean that anyone can perform body weight exercises

J - Jumping Pull Ups The jumping pull up is a great exercise, it's useful for the beginner to experience high intensity work with the pull up and at high volumes it will leave any athlete gassed. The pull up bar needs to be low enough that you can jump properly while holding onto the bar. You simply jump and pull with the arms at the same time, then lower quickly landing on your feet with legs slightly bent ready for the next jump. Training tip: Try to get 100 of these in one set, or do them using the Tabata interval.

K - Kipping Pull Ups These are the king of the pull ups and the default style for CrossFit workouts. It's performed by creating momentum in the horizontal plane and transferring it to the vertical by a powerful reversal of hip direction timed with a pull of the arms. With all pull ups the work done is the same, the cycle time in the kipping pull up is much faster than any other pull up thus the power is much greater. More power means more fitness. Training tip: If not already your pull up of choice then start learning the kip and make them your default pull up. Doing this exercise using the Tabata interval is an excellent gauge of your ability, shoot for 100 total reps in the eight intervals.

L - L-Pull Ups L-pull ups are the daddy of the strict pull ups. While hanging from the bar flex at the hips so that your legs are parallel to the ground, and at right angles to your body. Then pull without any jerking in the torso until your head is over the bar. The set is terminated when the feet drop below the bottom. Training tip: Not ready for the L position? Tucking your legs, or keeping them straight with the feet lower are sound ways to lower the load of this challenging exercise.

M - Muscle Ups The pull up is a gateway movement to the muscle up. The muscle up is a basic gymnastics exercise that can be performed on a horizontal bar or rings, it combines a pull up and a dip. The athlete performs a pull up and then rolls his arms into the bottom position of a dip before pressing into the support position. This movement requires good strength and coordination to get through the transition. Training tip: Haven't got a muscle up? Perform lots of ring pull ups and dips concentrating on full range of motion. 10 rounds of: 10 ring pull ups, 10 ring dips is a sure fire way to build the strength you need.( to get your own set of rings, click here)

N - Negative Pull Ups Negative pull ups are where the athlete lowers themselves slowly from the top of the pull up to the bottom of the hang. Typically you get to the top by doing a jumping pull up. These are another good tool for building strength in beginners. However these will make you very sore if abused.

O - One Arm Pull ups The one arm pull up is an otherworldly feat of strength that very few will achieve. There are easier versions like holding onto the wrist or the bicep of the pulling arm with your free arm. These are legitimate exercises in their own right and may help you in a quest for the true one arm pull up.

P - Push At The Top On the ascent of the kipping pull up the path of travel is a curve, to return along the same path you must "push the bar away" at the top of the pull up. Failure to do so means traveling in a straight line downwards, not only is this slower but also destroys your swing so energy created coming down doesn't transfer into the next rep. Training tip: If you notice yourself muscling the descent then you're not pushing the bar away at the top sufficiently.

Q - Quality In your training have a standard of what a good pull up is, and stick to it. Don't count reps that fail to make the standard. A good standard to have is full extension at the bottom and adams apple over the bar at the top.

R - Rings. Elite Rings are an alternative to the horizontal bar. You will find it very difficult to kip on rings so the upper body is better worked. Training with or even just fooling around on rings will develop huge upper body strength which will transfer into more pull ups. Training tip: If you don't have rings get them ASAP, if you can't afford Elite rings then Judo belts or heavy duty lifting slings make very adequate low cost substitutes.

S - Strict Pull Ups The strict pull up is the default pull up of the bodybuilding world. Luckily even this hasn't tarnished its reputation as a first class exercise. Doing 20 of these consecutively is very respectable. Training tip: As a CrossFitter you wouldn't want to do these in a WOD but they make for a very good warm upi or cool down exercise.

 T - Tap Swings The tap swing is the method by which you can learn the beginning phase of the kipping pullup.It's performed from the hang with arms extended and heaving the chest forward and feet back to get the "C" shape. Then swinging back to a hollow shape with the chest closed and the feet forward but not lifted. Then swinging back to the "C" shape. Training tip: If you're just beginning to learn the kip, or need to tidy it up practice tap swings in your warm up.

 U - Underhand/Overhand/Mixed Athletes will generally favour one style of pulling up grip. The overhand or pronated grip is generally the most popular and most amenable to kipping. The underhand or supinated is generally better for L-pull ups and weighted pull ups. The mixed grip is good for most styles of pull up. Training tip: In high volume WODs change your grip frequently when breaking up pull ups.

V - Visually Directed Look up at a point on the ceiling when doing pull ups. This will help you lead with the chest. The temptation when tired to drop the head will only make you more tired and end in an prematurely terminated set.

W - Weighted Pull Ups Adding weight to the pull up is a fantastic way to build pulling strength. Their are a variety of ways in which the weight can be added. Holding a dumbbell between your feet is a good option for CrossFit style circuits where the weight can be dumped easily. Using a dipping belt or a rucksack is better for heavy weights.

X - Xposure Ask a demolitions expert what recipe of explosives he would require for a particular job, you'd probably hear "P" for plenty. That's the same recipe for explosive (I know its cheesy) gains in pull ups. Keep exposing yourself to more and more pull up work and the big max sets will come. If you take anything away from this article make sure it's the need to do lots and lots of pull ups.

Y - Your Plan So how are you going to get to thirty pull ups? You need a plan, are you going to do grease the groove? Gradually increment the number of reps you do in your warm up? How often will you test your max? Keep a journal and write your training down. Little dips in performance now and again are normal. Little dips in workload now and again are beneficial. But the general trend will be more pull ups and more weight. If you notice you've stagnated, or you've been doing the same number of pull ups in your warm up for about three months, just add some more. You can always manage another rep, and that's progress.

Z - Zero Pull Ups? The most important thing when training and learning of otherworldly standards is that progress takes time. There are no shortcuts. It doesn't matter where you start it's where you end up that counts. If can't do any pull ups then make jumping pull ups your default pull up. Throw negatives in occasionally and heed the warning of their propensity to make you sore. If you have access to an assisted pull up machine then use it, slowly and incrementally reduce the assistance. Practice tap swings, and hanging from the bar. With a little bit of effort you will soon have your first kipping pull up then the flood gates are open and you'll soon be on your way to thirty. By Graham Hayes




No one will take you seriously if you do not incorporate rings into your training. They are one of the better training tools around ( and have been for many years) 

Elite Rings are used By Crossfit trainers like Andrew Stemler to build fantastic upper body strength


The Elite Gymnastic Rings are portable and lightweight


if you get confused as to how to thread your rings together, here's a little You tube clip that could help


The i-Course

 If you have never seen, let alone trained on some Gymnastic rings, get some basic ring training at the next i-course. Ideal for absolute beginners to "just about there" on the muscle up. Everyone will be streamed into groups so you get to practise drills appropriate to your strength levels


To get the real Crossfit effect, you must get a pair of rings. They are essential.

The advanced design of the Elite Rings makes them unique in the gymnastics world. These are the first rings designed from the ground up for fitness training. Weighing less than three pounds, you can take them with you wherever you go. And the quick and easy mounting system allows you to hang them nearly anywhere. The selection of possible exercises is limited only by your imagination: pullups, dips, pushups, muscle-ups, body rows, the iron cross and much more is possible. The unique nature of the rings gives all of the exercises a fun, athletic feel.

  • Accessible for beginners, with gentle progressions towards harder skills
  • Advanced design keeps the rings stable, allows for quick mounting, easy adjustment and light weight
  • Torch your abs with uniquely effective exercises derived from gymnastics
  • Challenge yourself with the Muscle-Up, a move that works every muscle in your upper body
  • Develop a high strength-to-bodyweight ratio, like an Olympic gymnast

The unique value of ring training

Ring training is time tested and proven effective by thousands of gymnasts. For fitness, the Elite Rings are even better, because by adjusting the height, you have access to new exercises not possible on traditional gymnastics rings. For example, you can now experience pushups in a whole new light. The mobility of the rings forces you to stabilize them constantly, thus increasing muscular recruitment through your whole body. The mobility also allows for variations not possible on the floor or pushup stands.
The efficiency of your workouts will improve as you incorporate ring exercises in place of their traditional counterparts. By integrating more of your musculature, fewer reps are required to achieve the same results.
Safety is improved for several reasons. First, your joints are allowed to track naturally, because you can move and rotate the rings to wherever you find greatest comfort. You can even adjust your hand placement dynamically during each rep, ensuring safety and comfort from beginning to end. Next, your safety is improved because you must always be under control while on the rings. Flailing away with improper form is not even possible. Lastly, your stabilizers muscles engage automatically and protect your joints. On dips, you have no choice but to use your lats, otherwise the rings will fly away. On a dip stand, you might never learn to use your lats properly. On rings, safety never compromises performance.

Even if you are a bit of a wimp, there are still lots of "silly" exercises you can do with the rings even if you havn't yet cracked the muscle-up. Download the free Crossfit London 'Easy Ring Training Guide' and either use it yourself or lend it to your wimp partner or body builder friends.
This guide is also an antidote and an attempt to stop you wasting your time and money buying well- marketed, but inferior webbing contraptions that haunt the internet. if you need to suspend your hands or feet, rings are what you need.

Easy Ring Training



Now you may feel like working towards the muscle-up, so you may wish to download the proper ring training guide that includes a few 'easy'  drills as warm up, the A-Z pull-up guide by G Hayes (available free elsewhere) and Greg Glassman's muscle-up article (also available on the net). What this guide does have is numerous hints and tips to help you get the muscle-up.



 What should you do now

1) Buy the "Elite Fitness Guide" at our shop £12.99

2)   Book onto our Beginners course

3)  Book a place on the i-course

4)  Email for a personal training session

If you want to learn how to olympic lift, ring train, deadlift, squat, loose weight, get faster, improve your blood pressure, change your body composition,  learn proper dietary principles, master cool gymnastics moves and earn yourself a fit and healthy future