First off, if you’re new to gymnastic rings, start with my previous article that covers gymnastic grips. It’s necessary to learn how to walk before you run. There are several reason why using gymnastic rings are better than more common forms of exercise, like weight lifting and cardio. For starters, rings require an adjustment in how your muscles communicate with your brain.
Unlike weights, rings are less stable, and require a lot of mental focus to properly manage. On my first time up on the rings it looked like someone was shocking me with an invisible taser. My muscles were twitching, my whole body was shaking uncontrollably, and I had a particularly goofy expression on my face. The slightest shift in balance can cause the rings to move, therefore, significant core strength is necessary for all exercises. [tweet_box design=”box_11″]After a few session on the rings, you’ll increase your mental focus, core strength and coordination.[/tweet_box]
Here are a few simple exercises to get you started:
1. Reverse Row
Use a neutral grip and hold yourself below the rings as you walk your feet forward, almost like a reverse plank position. Keep your legs straight, pull torso as far as you can forward , then slowly come down.
5-7 reps per set
Start with a neutral grip below the rings. Keep your shoulders down and your chest up. Pull yourself straight up and come down slowly. No kipping! This isn’t Crossfit. There are many grip variations so I would recommend starting with neutral grip (easiest), then trying outward facing grip (intermediate), eventually moving towards inward facing grip (difficult).
3-6 reps per set
[tweet_box design=”box_11″]Use a false grip and push yourself above the rings. Keep your arms straight and by your sides.[/tweet_box] Roll your shoulders back, don’t shrug, and hold.
10 seconds per set
Get yourself into the Top position but this time you should be in the above-the-rings grip. Keep your shoulders down and don’t let your shoulders drop past rings as you go down. As you push up to full arm extension, turn your wrists out.
3-5 reps per set
Tuck L-Sits (Intermediate)
Once you feel confident with the Top Position, you can move onto the Tuck and L-sit. From the Top Position, bring your knees to your stomach and be sure not to round your back. If you’re feeling wild, straighten your leg forward so that they’re parallel to the ground.
10 seconds per set
If you’ve mastered all the above movements and are convinced you’re God of the Rings, (Sounds like a sequel to The Hobbit), the Muscle-up will be a much needed reality check. Start with a false grip while hanging from the rings, and pull yourself up with enough momentum to get your chest above the rings and hands in your armpits. Lean forward and push straight up, keeping your elbows by your side the whole time. Keep your posture upright and turn the rings out, just like in Top Position, then let yourself back down slowly into the false grip.
3-6 Reps per set
At first, repeat with as many sets as you feel comfortable with. Universal Rule of the Rings (again, sounds like a great sequel to The Hobbit): Your core and leg muscles need to be stable, meaning zero movement and momentum during each exercise. Not just for form but as an exercise itself. Keeping your lower body stable requires just as much muscle activation as the pushing and pulling of your upper body.
The underlying theme of gymnastic-ring training is patience. If you can only do one pull-up initially, thats okay. Next time go for two. Everyone has to start somewhere, those who succeed are patient with themselves.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m always looking to provide readers with the best advice possible. Your feedback in the comments below is a great way to continue the conversation.
Which exercises did you like the most?
Which exercises were the hardest to progress on?