Did you ever try out the training with Gymnastic Rings*? And I mean – not in school. Recently and chosen free willingly – not forced by your ancient sports teacher. The odds are high that you answered that question with a clear ‘nope‘. Many are afraid of the seeming complexity of that tool. But I think that’s a bit exaggerated. All you need to start is a baseline of strength and you should be healthy. That’s it. Everybody can start somewhere.
That’s what makes working out on rings so challenging. The easiest looking exercises challenge your whole body.
Looks can be deceiving…
They are easy to transport
Another big point is their great versatility. They don’t take up much space and weigh less than 2kg.
You can always take your rings with you and throw them around something. This could be a branch, a bar, a street lantern, or even a palm tree!
A new Stimulus for your Body
Like every movement rings challenge your brain. But the stimulus of rings challenges it especially strong because it is unknown.
No other tool there is, grants this instability gymnastic rings* offer. *** off – Bosu ball…
Gymnastic Rings make strong
…and I mean really strong. If you’re willing to put in the work.
Ever wondered why gymnasts have such a strong midsection? Much of the movements are created through your core.
Plus, your shoulders will get insanely strong. They take most of the beating trying to even out the effects of the instability. Or easy said – to keep you on ’em.
…and mobile, too
Because of the nearly unlimited range, they offer you have a lot of space to get strong in. As a consequence, your mobility will improve if you train mindfully.
You will get strong in ranges you didn’t even know before.
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More range can also be a reason for injuries, especially if it is unknown. So don’t rush anything here!
For example, one of the best exercises to learn on the gymnastic rings are skin the cats.
How do I start training with Gymnastic Rings?
Buy gymnastic rings and go!
No, seriously: You will only learn and experience the benefits of gymnastic rings through working with them.
Get the Basics down
The biggest issue, in the beginning, will be to stabilize yourself on the rings. That just takes time. And no worries everyone looks like some wobbly jello-o when starting out!
But go slow. I know – rings are immense fun. But likewise every new stimulus – your body needs some time to adapt itself to the new environment. The most important thing when starting out is to get down the basics. Building up the strength and control necessary for the basic movements will transition into all the other exercises that come later on – before you can dip you should be able to hold a decent top position. Kinda obvious, but nonetheless many try to nail out 8 reps without being able to support themselves.
The Top Position
First on your list should come a stable top position. The top position is your default position above the rings. You stay on top of them pushing down into the rings while stabilizing yourself and tensing your entire body. Solely the top position requires some work and time, but especially the strict top position with the rings turned out builds strong and healthy shoulders.
I’d start working on holding the top position for 3 sets of 30s first in a neutral position,…
then doing ring turnouts for reps of 8-12 …
and afterwards holding the turn out support hold for 30-60s per set.
By following this easy schedule you should build a decent top position in a few weeks!
The False Grip
Second comes the false grip hang. While the hang itself is crucial to nail, the false grip adds another layer of complexity – and pain. It is at first a very uncomfortable and foreign way of holding onto something.
So why do we learn this awkward grip? Because it shortens your arms and therefore your lever, plus enables you to muscle up much easier. Simply put the false grip makes your life in the future much easier, by reducing the strength demand of certain skills.
In a false grip, the ring rests on the inner part of your wrists, with your wrists in a flexed position. This can be tough on the skin, the wrists, and especially your forearm’s flexors. Proceed slowly and try to avoid pain of overuse with the following protocol. Torn skin is fine and recovers relatively quickly, while passive damage can be a pain in the ass.
Start with false grip rows. Perform the rows you (hopefully) normally do with rows in a false gripped position. This should place some load on the false grip, but be a lot easier than hanging in a false grip right away.
Next try to hang in a false grip. I like to do this for one warmup set or as a finisher (do 1-3 sets of 30s each)
When comfortable with hanging for 20-30s in a false grip you are safe to go for chinups. Start with reps of 3-5r and work your way up.
Besides the top position and the false grip hang you should be able to perform all the basics of calisthenics on rings, before attempting dedicated skill work. Remember the stronger the easier the journey will be in general. That said the basics on rings are:
Ring-Turnout Planks + Pushups
Chinups + Rows
False Grip Hang
Ring-Turnout Support Hold
Hanging Knee Raises
You don’t need to bang out 15 immacule reps of each, just make sure to be comfortable with all of them. There is no sense working on front levers, if your chinups or false grip could need some work.
Build specific Skills and Strength
After you have build a solid foundation and control, you can start working on specific skills. Or you can get even stronger – that will make skills much easier.
There are a lot of skills to perform on the rings and many will be like other skills but much harder. By that I mean that a front lever on the rings is harder than on bars and a planche will be harder on rings than on p-bars*, That’s because of their instability, as it takes resources to solely do that. Great skills on rings are:
Learn this cue early on: Control is everything! The goal is to control every movement you do and if your technique breaks down you stop the set. Don’t push yourself in the beginning. You can do that later on. Rings are not that forgiving as biceps curls may be.
I think you can read out my deep love towards Gymnastic Rings*. Therefore, I hope that I could take you some fear or even motivate you to try them out!
That said, do yourself a favor and try them out. The worst-case would be 30$ wasted. And in the best case a badass upper body.
You shouldn’t be recently injured, overweight or work with the rings before you can do basic pushups. 1 I think this is common sense. If you weigh 150kg+, you have other issues and better spend your energy on that before trying to get a stable top position on rings.