You’ve probably witnessed at least one gymnast whirling around on the rings at the Olympics or other events and wondered, “how in the world do they do that” before shrugging and heading back to the weight room.
There’s a reason gymnasts are shredded and doing workouts on the gymnastic rings is a great way to get in shape!
Gymnastic rings and doing rings exercises force you to use muscle groups that might not be activated with traditional workouts on the machines or weight sets.
By using your body weight as resistance, you’ll build more muscles and better flexibility throughout the workout.
Getting started can be a daunting prospect.
After all, the last time you hung on some gymnastic rings or a bar like this was when you were on the playground and even then you couldn’t quite get the hang of it! Never fear!
There are plenty of great workouts you can do no matter your skill level on the rings already.
Getting Started: Workouts for Beginners
Whether you’re a total newbie to workouts or just new to the gymnastic rings, these bodyweight workouts are accessible for just about anyone.
If your gym doesn’t have rings, you can buy some and install them at home!
As long as you’ve got a sturdy place for them to hang or a good spot for whole equipment set up, you’re ready to rock and roll!
Have the right equipment and any necessary accessories to hang them appropriately or set them up effectively.
Once you’ve got things set up, keep a water bottle and towel handy so you can stay hydrated and dry while working out.
You may also want to incorporate a box into some of the moves so make sure you have an exercise box handy if you decide to use it.
Lastly, be sure you have on the appropriate shoes.
You’ll most likely start with your feet on the ground if you’re a beginner and you’ll want to be sure that you have a good grip when you start.
Hang from the Rings
This may sound like the simplest thing in the world but it’s a building block for more complicated exercises that you’ll do on the rings later on.
Just hanging from the rings gives you the grip strength you need to move on to more intense exercises and works your upper body.
Believe it or not, you may not last long simply hanging from the rings!
Even if you’ve got years of experience at the gym, the time you spending dangling is likely to be brief.
If you’ve got the “hang” of ring training and you’re ready to add a little bit of spice to the routine at the outset, you can practice doing some scapular retractions.
Simply pull your shoulders and shoulder blades down away from your ears while you continue to hang on the rings.
If you’re struggling to even get a grip, you can adjust your position so you start on the right foot. Lower the rings so you can hang from your arms and still have part of your feet on the ground.
Most of the weight will be carried in your feet but the small amount in your arms and hands will train your body and allow you to increase it over time.
These are recommended to be 3 sets of 5-10 seconds each.
Rather than just hanging from the rings during your ring training, you’re ready to move on and try something different and more challenging.
As you’re just getting started with the rings, holding yourself up with straight arms is sure to be a challenge.
Once you’re in this position, all of your bodyweights will be pushing down on the muscles in your arms, and to keep the rings in place, you’ll need to engage your core and focus on your entire upper body.
This is sure to be a challenge so you can adjust the entire apparatus so your feet touch the floor and assist with the lift.
While you’ll feel that a lot of your weight is still in your feet, the small part that is pushing down on the rings and lifting you slightly is a good start and can be built upon over time!
This is recommended at 3 sets of 5-10 seconds each.
One of the greatest bodyweight exercises of all time is the pull-up and if you’re just starting, it can seem like an impossible goal.
Working through incremental exercises and an increase in resistance over time is the best way to get yourself ready to do a pull-up and you can start with this exercise.
Set up your rings at hip or knee height then grab the rings and lean back.
After you lean back, puff up your chest and pull your body back into the rings. You can make this easier or more difficult by adjusting the angle you’re leaning at or the distance you are from the rings themselves.
This exercise will help you build up to a pull-up in no time and you’ll be building both your chest and arm muscles in the process as well as engaging your upper body.
While you probably won’t see your biceps grow exponentially during this time, you’ll feel your body become stronger and more adept at working with the rings.
As you pull your body in you’ll also need to engage your core to keep the rings steady and working the way they need to.
Chin-ups on the Rings
Chin-ups can be daunting for any beginner and then when you add in the slight instability of the gymnastic rings it might be easy to just take a pass.
But the rings give you tons of flexibility so you’ll be able to adjust the exercise to fit your fitness level.
Unlike a traditional pull-up bar, throughout the move, you can switch your hands into different positions allowing for a wider range of grip.
A pull-up bar is stable and may give you some help when it comes to pulling up but the rings give you a new level of flexibility.
To do a chin-up with the rings, you’ll follow the same motion as you would on a standard bar, using your chest and arm muscles to pull your entire bodyweight up toward the ring until your chin is above the rings working your upper body.
To make it easier to learn and get the best form, you can move the rings down so you can use your feet to assist with the move or utilize a box set up behind you.
Push-ups on the Rings
As if push-ups weren’t challenging enough! Adding in push-ups on the rings is a great way to engage your whole body in the exercise.
The rings add an extra challenge because you need to be sure you’re stabilized on the ground before you even begin with your move.
This exercise allows you to adjust your body in an almost infinite number of angles so you can make it harder or easier with each repetition.
You’ll end up engaging your core and your arm muscles along with your chest as you work this move.
Make sure your form is correct with a regular push-up before you attempt these on the rings.
Poor form can result in serious injury!
If you’re ready for a challenge on the rings, you’ve found it! Ring dips are very similar to dips on a standard bar or machine but they add in some flexibility when it comes to the rings themselves.
The added unpredictability of the rings will challenge you as you’re working toward your fitness goals.
To complete a ring dip, lower yourself until your chest touches the rings and then you’ll push up until you’re in a straight arm support position.
Adjust the height of the rings to let your feet support and assist you during the move.
While it can be discouraging to feel like you need to use your feet, don’t lose heart!
Each incremental change you make is worth it!
So we’ve gone over some of the more basic moves and you’re ready to get started with your workout!
Let’s dive right in and get going!
Get started with a warm-up that involves ring specific moves and a good stretching routine for after you’re finished.
A basic routine for a ring workout starts, after your warm-up, with 3 sets of 5-10 seconds of a support position hold.
This is going to end up working your arms and core as you hold each of the 3 sets for those few seconds. You might find yourself feeling a little week after the first set!
Next, you’ll move into dips on the rings. You’ll do 3 sets of 3-5 reps for this move.
Focus on the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and arms as you fight against the instability of the rings. You’ll most likely need to engage your core as you keep the rings stable with each rep.
Moving on from dips, you’ll do 3 sets of 3 reps each of reverse row sit backs.
This exercise combines a row and a chin-up and is similar to the row exercises we outlined earlier.
Each of these 3 sets only has 3 reps but will help you develop more intense coordination and body control as well as strengthen your back.
Every beginner level needs to take a step forward some time and this next move, the tuck or L-sit, is the next forward. You’ll do 3 sets of 5-10 seconds each time utilizing a leverage hold that will engage your core.
You’ll push your body up into a support position and then use your core to draw your legs up toward your body or push them up and out until you form an L.
Getting in 3 sets of this exercise is sure to leave your abs screaming!
Finally, we’ll round out the workout with some chin-ups or pull-ups. You’ll end up doing 3 sets of 1-3 reps for each of these.
By engaging your butt and legs as you do these chin-ups or pull-ups you’ll transition this into a full-body workout!
Cool-down by doing some light stretching and be sure to drink plenty of water!
It may be tempting to push yourself beyond 3 sets of each exercise but 3 sets are plenty to get your muscles activated and start to build bodyweight strength.
When you’re ready to level-up to some more complicated workouts, you’ll start to practice the false grip stance.
This false grip gives you more traction by putting the wrist in contact with the ring.
The false grip leads to new exercises that are for more advanced users.
Gymnastic ring workouts are designed to be done 3 or so times a week. By doing them this many times a week, you’ll build up lean muscle and increase flexibility without overdoing your exercise.
Make it Work
Whether you’re exploring your exercise options with the rings at your local gym or you’ve installed some at your house, there are lots of things you can do to make your experience more enjoyable and profitable.
A Lifelong Obsession
Doing one workout on the rings for a month or two isn’t going to cut it.
Once you start using the rings, you’ll want to keep up with the exercise and see your skills increase. But don’t limit yourself to just doing strict 3 sets every day.
Engage your inner child and play around! You probably didn’t notice when you were a kid but horsing around on the monkey bars built and engaged muscles that you didn’t even realize you had.
Let yourself skip the 3 sets occasionally and just enjoy moving your body on the bars.
After all, working out shouldn’t be a chore with 3 sets constantly running through your head.
Instead, it should be a joy and a chance for you to use your body in new ways that help improve your health.
Start Working Now!
Don’t let the slow delivery of your first set of rings stop you from working out!
You can do plenty of the same exercises that you’ll eventually do on the rings with furniture from around your house.
Grab a couple of chairs and practice your support pose. Push yourself down to a different angle and work on push-ups!
While they won’t be as fun to monkey around on as the rings you’ll be getting in the mail, they’ll help you start to train your body through quick 3 sets of reps to be prepared once the rings arrive.
There’s no excuse to stop working toward your health and fitness goals and accomplishing an all-body workout!
Working on the rings is a grueling process and switching from machines and weight sets to bodyweight means adjustment.
Your body needs to adjust to the process as well as the exercise itself before pushing yourself to the limit.
Start with 3 sets of the appropriate number of reps or seconds before you add more reps or sets.
Give yourself grace if you can’t finish all 3 sets the very first time you start on the rings.
Build up your strength and flexibility before you try to go to the Olympics!
You won’t do your body any favors by pushing too hard, too fast especially on the rings.
Give Yourself Downtime
No matter what type of workout you’re trying to do or the goal you want to accomplish, your body needs downtime to recuperate and heal.
All weight exercises whether bodyweight or with machines create micro-tears in your muscles that need to heal before you can see growth in your strength or weight loss goals.
By pushing yourself too hard for these workouts or any workouts, you run the risk of causing serious injury as well as inhibiting your weight loss or fitness goals.
Your body needs rest to process the exercise you just accomplished.
Rest and good sleep are just as important as your form and the equipment you use doing this workout!
Frequently Asked Questions
Switching from weights and machines to bodyweights and rings can be a big step.
Making sure you have all the information you need before you start is crucial!
With lots of questions surrounding bodyweight exercise and the rings in general, it’s best to get your questions answered now so you can start your new routine with confidence!
Are Gymnastic Rings Worth the Cost?
If you want to push yourself to become stronger on every move and with every form, gymnastic rings are worth the cost!
Starting a routine with the rings at your local gym is a great way to get a taste before investing in your own set.
You can cut down on some of the cost of the rings themselves by hanging them in a sturdy spot in your house rather than buying a large steel system that will take up lots of room.
But make sure that you’ve got them hanging in a very sturdy spot as they’ll need to support all of your weight and movement for all 3 sets!
What Size Rings Should I get?
The biggest factor that should go into the size of rings you purchase or use is the girth.
You want to be sure you can achieve a good grip on the rings and one that’s too thick will have you slipping off the rings constantly.
You can get rings in steel, plastic, or wood with wood ones being ideal for grip and strength overall.
Swinging steel rings are a great choice as well and offer several different options for you to choose from.
Before starting on your first 3 sets on the rings, be sure you also purchase a cam buckled strap that’s at least an inch wide.
This will help you get the most out of your routine while you’re using the rings!
How do You go about Using Gymnastic Rings at Home?
First things first: be sure your rings are securely fastened onto either the frame of your equipment or that they’re secure on a beam or ceiling joist so you’ll have all the safety and control necessary for the workout.
Second, take some time to monkey around and test out your strength before diving into a workout.
Lastly, sign up for a full exercise plan or devise one of your own. While they may be fun to play around on, you do want to use them and get the best experience possible!
Full workout and diet plans for the rings can be found easily or derived from several different workouts as well.
How will using the Rings Help me reach my Fitness Goals?
Weight lifting and machines at the gym teach your body to do the same movement over and over again with little variation.
Your muscles build up memory and will often only operate in that way.
Using gymnastic rings forces your body to deal with the unknown movement of the rings themselves and respond accordingly.
This begins to work for different muscle groups and engages multiple muscle groups at one time.
Utilizing more than one muscle group at a time is a great way to build up both lean muscle mass and flexibility.
You won’t end up muscle-bound if you stick with the ring workouts!
What’s the best way to Start with the Rings?
Start with some of the very basic moves we outlined above.
Also, don’t be afraid to just have fun with the apparatus and build up some strength by playing around!
Kids have fun on the monkey bars for a reason so find joy in the workout and spend time playing.
Choose a plan that allows you to start slow and build your way up.
Don’t jump right in with an Olympic workout and expect to be winning gold at the end of the day.
Start with small rounds of sets and reps and let your body adjust to the new type of strain.
Allow yourself to rest between sets and reps and take downtime between workouts for your muscles to heal and regenerate.
Working with gymnastic rings is a fun and efficient way to work your body using bodyweight systems.
Instead of heading to the gym each day and working your muscles in the same way over and over again, you can set up rings in your basement or get time on them at the gym and teach your body a new way of working!
All of the moves within the realm of the gymnastic rings are similar or the same as other bodyweight workouts so you won’t need to learn a whole new set of forms and unique routines.
Once you build up past the basic starter moves, you can begin to do more complicated workouts that will engage every part of your body.
These rings are simple enough for a kid to use them but the endless variations and form differences mean they can be tweaked to fit your routine and help you reach your fitness goals in no time.
Don’t be locked into boring push-ups day after day, mix up your routine with some easy to install and simple to use gymnastics rings!