You’ve most likely seen Olympic athletes flipping and spinning up in the air and launching themselves off the gymnastic rings.
It’s no accident that they’re considered some of the strongest and definitely some of the most flexible athletes that compete!
Working out on and with gymnastic rings is a great way for anyone to build functional strength and flexibility.
The rings add another level to your regular workout and you’ll soon find yourself feeling stronger and building lots of lean muscle with each day of your program.
Creating a workout with the gymnastic rings takes more than just monkeying around on them!
Although having fun with the rings is a crucial component, it can’t be the basis of your entire workout.
With calisthenics and bodyweight exercises, one of the most vital moves is the pull-up so why not start there!
Believe it or not, you’ll need some gymnastic rings to get started with this workout!
Without the rings themselves you’ll be stuck doing regular pull-ups and there’s no fun in that!
Choosing the gymnastic rings that will work best for your workout may take some trial and error but there are a few things you want to look out for with each one.
The first is that they’re the appropriate size for your hands. Rings come in two standard sizes, 1.1 inches and 1.25 inch which corresponds to the circumference of the material itself.
You’ll want to decide as well between steel rings, wooden, and plastic ones. Steel, while much more durable and sturdier, makes the entire set-up heavy and hard to move around.
They can also end up being a bit of a hazard if they swing and smack someone in the head. Ouch!
Plastic rings will end up lasting a long time. If you’re set up in your backyard for your workout equipment, this is a great option as they won’t rust or deteriorate.
Wooden rings offer a superior grip for anyone who wants to try them out.
But they don’t last quite as long as other types that you can pick up for your home gym.
They won’t slip and slid when you sweat but that sweat and any other moisture will cause them to break down more rapidly than steel or plastic options.
Since you’ll be swinging and hanging from the rings when doing your pull-up workout, you’ll need some heavy-duty straps to keep things in line.
There are two main varieties, 28 mm and 38 mm. Use and choose wider straps for beginners and thinner ones for exercises like dips and muscle-ups for those who are more advanced in their training.
Now that you’ve got your equipment in line and installed, you’re ready to get started with your new workout routine!
Ring Pull-Up Workout and Progression
When you’re first starting with the rings, things will feel foreign and it will take some time to let your body adjust and be able to do things without help.
Starting with some easier progressions and then moving up only when you’re ready is the best way to keep yourself from being injured and progress through the program!
The set up for every progression of the ring pull-up is the same:
- Set the rings for a height where your feet won’t touch the ground if possible
- Stand directly below the rings and grab them with an overhand grip
- Keep your arms straight and let your bodyweight hang for a moment
- While remaining in control, pull your chest and shoulders toward the rings bending your arms as you go up
- Continue with this motion until your shoulders are level with the rings
- Pause at this height and then slowly lower yourself down again all while remaining in control
- Repeat the motion for your prescribed sets and reps without touching the ground
One of the best ways to get a feel for your new gymnastic rings before putting a lot of stress on your body trying to do pull-ups is just to do some time in a dead hang.
Grasp your gymnastic rings with both hands and let your body hang without pulling up or any assistance.
Go through 3 sets of 30 seconds for this dead hang.
Your hands will start to adjust to the way they grasp the rings and you’ll slowly acclimate to the feel of the rings themselves!
Soon it will be second nature to grab hold and start doing pull-ups.
This is the next step in the pull-up progression!
You’ll end up using some extra equipment and techniques to go through the motion and learn to do the pull-up.
Start with a box, chair, or bench underneath you and putting a foot or two on the platform below you.
You’ll then lift yourself using your arms, shoulders, and chest while balancing and pushing up with your foot slightly.
Use your foot and leg as little as possible during this motion.
Resistance Band Assisted Pull-Ups
Resistance bands are the calisthenics fanatics’ best friend and this workout is no exception!
Instead of using the box or platform to push yourself up slightly, you’ll incorporate the resistance bands.
These bands will support part of your weight as you go through the same motion to pull yourself up toward the rings. You’ll simply loop the bands through the rings so that they’re hanging at about knee level.
Then you’ll put your feet into the loops and use the resistance to help you pull-up!
This is the reverse of a full pull-up in essence.
You’ll start at the top of the motion by standing on a bench or platform and then lower yourself while remaining in control to the starting point.
This teaches your body the correct form to use when going through a full pull-up motion without having to pull your full weight up to the top of the bar or rings.
When you’re ready, you can go through the motion to achieve a full pull-up on the rings!
This has an added level of intensity because the rings will move at different angles and in unique ways when compared to the pull-up bar. You’ll need to factor this into your practice and adjust for the changes.
Keep practicing and working out with the rings and don’t try to do the traditional pull-up on the rings when you’ve been practicing on the bar!
Weighted Ring Pull-Ups
Once you’ve gotten to be able to easily do 10 or more regular pull-ups, it’s time to challenge yourself further!
One way to start challenging yourself and making leaps in your fitness levels is to use weighted ring pull-ups.
After a while, you won’t be fighting against your bodyweight nearly as much so you’ll need more resistance added to progress. The simplest way to do this is to add in a weighted vest or belt.
Start with small amounts of weight and then progress toward heavier loads as you learn and grow. Don’t neglect your form during this time!
These are the pinnacle of ring pull-ups!
Progressing to the muscle-up takes a lot of practice and no small amount of determination so be prepared to keep working hard to finally take this one on head first.
The muscle upstarts with a pull-up and ends with your body up and above the rings.
In addition to needing some serious muscle to get this done, you’ll also need coordination to keep the rings in order as you move above them in the move.
This takes a lot of practice but once you’ve mastered the regular ring pull-ups, this is a great choice to keep you moving forward!
Why Choose Ring Pull-Ups Over a Bar?
There are tons of great reasons to choose to use rings instead of a bar when learning or progressing in pull-ups!
While using the rings you’ll need to focus on your form, fighting the resistance of your body weight, and the slight unpredictability of the rings themselves.
You’ll continue targeting your core with this method. Your grip will also be advanced as you have a variety of choices when grabbing onto the rings themselves as they move around.
Rings activate muscles for a longer period and they require a lot of stabilization and balance to finish them in the allotted time.
Using these stabilizer muscles also helps keep them active and ready to jump into action should you need them to prevent injury later on.
All of these things come together to make ring pull-ups slightly harder than regular bar ones!
But the hard work pays off in the end when you can go through all of the motions and finish a set with ease.
While it won’t turn you into an Olympic gymnast overnight, you’ll have much better stabilization, control, and core strength than those who use the bar!
Why settle for boring bar pull-ups when you can jump in and learn how to use the rings for your pull-up workout!
Going through the progressions until you’re able to move through a pull-up is one of the best ways to teach your body functional strength for future use!