False Grip on the Muscle-Up: To Use or Not to Use
False Grip on the Bar Muscle Up
The barbell muscle up is one of the most popular bodyweight exercises. It’s great for building strength and it works your core muscles as well. But there are many people who don’t like to use their hands because they’re too small or they have arthritis in them, so they prefer using dumbbells instead.
If you’ve ever tried to do a barbell muscle up with just your arms, you’ll quickly realize how difficult it is. You need both hands strong enough to hold the weight while your other hand holds the handle of the bar. That’s not easy even if you have big biceps!
However, there are some people who can’t perform a true muscle up at all without assistance from another person. These people call themselves “false grip” users. They usually have small fingers and/or weak wrists which makes it impossible for them to use a barbell properly.
So they resort to using dumbbells instead, but these are still not the same thing as a true muscle up since they aren’t really holding onto anything. A true muscle up requires that you’re gripping something solid (bar, rings) and then pulling yourself upward until your whole body is above the ground.
So what’s wrong with using dumbbells?
The problem with using dumbbells is that they’re not balanced. They have a tendency to rotate around your hand as you pull yourself upward, which makes the exercise more difficult because you have to fight against this rotation in addition to pull yourself upward. If you’ve never tried a muscle up with dumbbells, try it right now and you’ll see what I mean.
How can I get a proper muscle up with small hands?
So if you have small hands, what can you do to get a proper muscle up? You could try using rings since they are more balanced and easier to use than a barbell. The only problem is that rings are suspended from something, so you need some sort of stand to put them in. Most likely you won’t find such a thing at your local gym.
Fortunately there is a solution that doesn’t require any extra equipment. It’s called the false grip and it lets you pull yourself up without ever having to rotate the dumbbells in your hands. Your wrists are also free to rotate as much as you want since you aren’t holding onto anything with your hands.
The only problem with the false grip is that it’s hard on your forearms since you’re supporting your own weight with just your hands. Fortunately you can get around this by doing a negative muscle up that is, start from a hang and then lower yourself slowly to the bottom position where you do a normal pull-up. You can lower yourself as slowly as you want and take as much time as you need to get your forearms used to the extra weight.
Give it a try next time you’re at the gym. It’s a very productive way to work your muscles and will prepare you for the real thing when you can do it unassisted.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Multi-functional false grip assistance device (DR Newman – US Patent 9,468,806, 2016 – Google Patents)
- Exercise ring with false grip assistance (DR Newman – US Patent 9,242,133, 2016 – Google Patents)
- Muscle glove (R Bumgarner – US Patent 10,092,046, 2018 – Google Patents)