Athlete seeking first muscle-up ignores coach advice to improve strength before hitting the rings

Sarah Peterson admitted her number one goal in life these days is to get her first muscle-up.

“I’m like obsessed with getting a muscle-up. It's all I think about. At the gym, at work, in bed at night, even,” said 25-year-old Peterson, who has been doing CrossFit for a little over a year.

Despite her daily repeated attempts in the last six months, Peterson hasn’t yet managed to get herself through the rings.

“I come in before class every single day and hit the rings for 30 minutes. The coaches say I need to get stronger, but I think I’m strong enough. I think my determination will get me there eventually,” Peterson said. “I just need to keep trying. I might start putting in a second muscle-up shift after class.”

In total, Peterson estimated that she attempts about 150 muscle-ups each week.

“It sounds exhausting, I know,” she said.

Last week, Peterson's coach approached her with a new training idea.

“First, he asked me how many strict pull-ups I can do. He also asked about strict chest-to-ring pull-ups, ring dips and a few other things. I can do a strict pull-up or two on a good day, but can’t quite get my chest to the rings for a chest-to-ring pull-up,” she said.

After obtaining a handful of her numbers, her coach suggested Peterson abandon her repeated failed muscle-up attempts for a while to focus on building her upper body strength.

"He suggested I start following a more systematic program that encompasses upper strength-building and eventually muscle-up technique-based stuff, things like kipping and transition drills," she said.

To this, Peterson said she replied, “With all do respect, coach, it seems like a waste of time. I'm getting closer to that darn muscle-up all the time. I even caught one last week, but couldn't dip out of it, so I really think what I'm doing is working.”

What he said next confused her.

“Then he asked me something really weird. He asked me if I would set up at a 300-lb. bar and attempt and fail to deadlift it over and over after class. ‘Of course not,’ I replied. What would be the point? I know I’m not strong enough to lift 300-lb. yet,” she continued.

She shrugged, adding: “A 300-lb. deadlift isn't my goal anyway, though. I just want a muscle-up already.”