On Freak Outs and Muscle-Ups

It was a random Thursday night and all the CrossFit classes were done for the day. I hung back, standing in the middle of the rig, looking up at the pull-up bar. I was nervous.

Just do a muscle-up. Just jump up, and do it. 

At the time of my injury, I had been doing CrossFit for about four years — three of them were spent ripping up my hands, pulling to low or turning over too slow (or not at all) in an attempt to achieve a much-coveted bar muscle-up (BMU). I finally got my first one during the CrossFit open in workout 16.3. I’ve never hit the lottery, but I’d imagine it’s a similar feeling to being fully locked out at the top of the rig, surrounded by awesome friends and coaches cheering you on.

From that day until my injury, I worked on my BMUs, improving the smoothness of the movement (no chicken-winging here!), and would spent almost all open gym sessions listening to my fiance, Mitch’s, guidance on how to take the next step and get a ring muscle-up. Mitch is kind of like our gym’s muscle-up guru.

And then I got hurt.

Being out of the gym for so long was obviously a huge detriment to my strength, but my psyche was messed up, too.

So on that Thursday night, Mitch pulled up a 20-inch box and placed it in the middle of the rig. I meticulously chalked up my hands, admittedly procrastinating, and then stepped up on to the box. Scaled muscle-ups from a box, in theory, should have been no problem for me. I wrapped my over-chalked hands on the pull-up bar. Bent my knees and got into a hollow-rock position. Pulled to the bottom of my chest.

“You’re pulling low enough. Just get your body over the bar,” Mitch said, referring to the part of the muscle-up where you use the connection point of your body and the bar as a fulcrum, and get your chest over the bar so that you can push up to fully extended arms, thus completing the movement.

I knew I needed to turn over. I knew how to turnover. And ultimately, I knew that if I did, I physically wouldn’t have too much an issue getting to full lock out above the bar. So I pulled again. No turnover.

I pulled again, this time getting my body over the bar. The physically hard part was over.

“Yes! Just lock out!” Mitch said, as I came back down to the box, in tears.

“I want to go home.”

“Why? You were so close. C’mon you know you can do it.”

“I cant. Not today.”

As I dragged my box back to the corner of the gym where it belongs, I began to cry. It was a mix of fear from being so high on the bar to total frustration at no longer being able to do something I worked so hard to do. Mitch comforted me, and we went home, ate dinner and went to sleep, trying to focus our minds on something else for the time being. Then I woke up the next morning and added a new goal to my list.

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