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  • Jack Lian

My Journey to a 20kg Muscle Up

Earlier in January this year, I had set a goal to achieve a 20kg ring muscle up by the end of February.


Prior to the goal, I could ONLY achieve the 16kg muscle up on an “excellent” day.


My schedule has been really packed since completing my university studies in mid-2017. Finding 30 minutes within a day for training can sometimes be tough, just like most of you guys! (We are ALL on the same boat!!)


However, I am not going to let this be the reason be an EXCUSE from attaining this goal of mine.


It is possible to achieve your fitness goals on very limited time and it boils down to 2 principles:


1) Having clarity in your fitness goals.

2) As the great Dan John had mentioned in his book Intervention, the core of the training program should be determined by his coaching principle of the prisoner’s dilemma: “What if I only have 15 minutes, 3 times a week for training to achieve my goals?”


My goal is crystal clear - get from the bottom of the rings to the top of the rings with an additional 20kg attached to me.


By following the second principle, the core of the program should be..PRACTICING weighted ring muscle ups!


Hence, the course of action is to spend every other day practicing weighted muscle ups, based on a linear periodization model which I had programmed for myself. Some days there could ONLY be 3 sets; other days there could be seven sets.


The goal is to get STRONGER in the muscle ups – so based on the principle of specificity and the limited time that I have, this will form the CORE of the session.


A sample of my program looked like this:


Figure 1 - Sample of training log building towards the 20kg muscle up

I would increase my load to the next weight if I am able to perform 2-3 sets of 4 reps for my current weight.


Ultimately, this is a simple linear periodization model with scheduled regeneration weeks at appropriate times for my body to recover. These regeneration weeks formed a crucial part of the program which strengthened my foundation to support heavier training loads and are the ones to help me break through training plateaus.


I was stuck at 12kg for doubles at one point for a while.


Instead of hitting my head against the brick wall, I regressed to the previous week and built up more volume (Figure 2). It undoubtedly tested my patience but it ultimately paid off.


Figure 2 - Sample regeneration week in my muscle up training log


When I returned to the new weight, it helped me break through the plateaus, which also occurred while transiting from the 12kg to the 16kg.


With patience, I worked my way to my first 20kg muscle up and JUST in time before I left for Korea too!!




Ultimately, it is important to stay true to your plan and trust it! It may be repetitive, but it goes a long way towards achieving your goals!


If you need help with getting your first muscle up, feel free to drop me a message for a free consultation in the “Contact Me” section below!


P.S. Next up, 24kg muscle up!!!

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