Gymnastic rings are one of the best training tools for developing a strong and muscular upper body.
One look at the upper-body development of male gymnasts shows just how effective bodyweight training with rings can be. These guys are not small and slender—they're flat-out jacked.
Another huge benefit of the rings is that they're portable. So you can bring them almost anywhere, including an outdoor park. There's nothing quite like experiencing a great workout outside in the sun.
While you do need a basic level of strength to successfully transition from a bar or the floor to rings training, some of the lower level movements can be picked up quickly through consistent practice. If you don't have access to a pair of rings, quality sets go on Amazon for under $30. If you're looking for a great addition to your home gym, rings will do the trick.
With that in mind, here are three powerful gymnastic ring exercises anyone can learn within a few weeks. I've also included a "recommended baseline" that outlines how adept you should be at a traditional exercise before attempting the ring exercise.
1. Ring Push-Ups
Prepare to stuff your face with humble pie when you first try these out.
A guy who can do 20 regular Push-Ups might be shaking all over the place during his first set of Ring Push-Ups. That's because his smaller stabilizer muscles are weak and not used to the instability of the rings.
At first, consider cutting your range of motion a bit short by touching your front delts to the upper ring at the bottom of the movement. Too often, I see people attempting to go all the way down when they don't have the requisite strength to push back up without their lower back hyperextending or shoulders shrugging up to their ears.
Once you can maintain pristine form over this shortened range of motion, increase it to the point where your front delts touch your thumbs.
Recommended Baseline: 20 Consecutive Push-Ups on the Floor
2. Ring Inverted Rows
There's a common mistake people make on Inverted Rows. They pull only with the arms, cutting the movement 6 inches short at the top and failing to feel anything in their upper back muscles. You want to protract your shoulder blades at the bottom and then squeeze them together as you pull yourself up.
Ring Inverted Rows take the traditional Inverted Row a step further by adding instability to the exercise. Your goal here is to move your body over a full range of motion, finishing thumbs-to-chest at the top. If you can't do that just yet, set the rings slightly higher. A more upright position will be easier, allowing you to work on perfecting your form before lowering the rings and increasing difficulty.
Recommended Baseline: 5 Consecutive Chin-Ups
3. Ring Chin-Ups
Unlike with a fixed bar, your hands can move freely on the rings. This means you can perform Ring Chin-Ups either with a neutral grip (palms facing each other), or start with your palms facing away in the hang position before finishing with palms facing you at the top; whichever feels more natural.
Recommended Baseline: 8 Consecutive Chin-Ups
Give these three gymnastic rings exercises a shot in your training and add some more muscle to your chest, shoulders and upper back. You may suck at first, but keep putting in the work and I'm sure you'll grow to enjoy gymnastic rings training—and the awesome results it can offer—in no time.
Photo Credit: pattonmania/iStock
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