Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How to Install or Mount Gymnastics Rings

Need some advice on how to hang gymnastics rings?  We can help.  From how high to hang them to best locations for overhead clearance, we've got you covered.

If you are thinking about adding a set of gymnastics rings to your gym, here's a simp guide to getting them installed.
Gymnastics Rings are a great training tool.  We can help you decide where to install them.

Before we get started hanging the gymnastics rings, there are a few things to consider:
  • Mounting Heights - the three primary heights at which gym rings will be the most useful are when they are positioned overhead, at chest level or just off the floor.  You'll want to pick a spot that will allow you to hang the rings in these three major positions.  It is better to hang them in a taller location than shorter, but even if you have limited height to work with the rings can still be very functional.
  • How high is high enough?  Here's a quick, easy method to know what height is optimal for your body.  Stand next to a wall and make three temporary marks: One - as high as you can comfortably reach, Two - the point at which your hand is comfortably at your side and Three - your height.  Measure the distance between the bottom two points and add that to the top point.  That is the optimal height from which to mount the rings.  With the ring hanger mounted at least that high you will be all set for ring Muscle Ups as well as all matter of Front Pulls, Back Pulls and more without fear of hitting your head or having to compromise your position over the rings.
  • Location, Location, Location - If at all possible, pick a spot that will be permanent.  Think about your space - do you have an area to perform overhead movements with a bar?  How about Double Unders?  Rope Climbs?  Box Jumps?  Having a dedicated space for each of these exercises along with a spot for the gymnastics rings keeps setup/put-away time at a minimum and allows you to be the most productive moving from station to station.
  • Overhead Structure - there are a few different installation methods we will discuss but first and foremost, ensure that the spot you want to install is structurally sound.  In every case, if it looks questionable, then don't do it.  And a great rule of thumb is that if you can spread the load to two or more points the better.  We'll talk a bit more about locations in a second.
  • Mounting on a Pull Up Bar - although not the most ideal, hanging gymnastics rings from a pull up bar, is popular and easy to do.  When mounting this way, the ring dip, ring row and ring pushup are available exercises but movements such as the Muscle Up and Front Pulls, Levers and Inverted Pulls are difficult.   The optimal way to hang the rings is in a separate hanging station far overhead.

Possible Mounting Locations for Gymnastics Rings:
  • Garage Rafters -
    definitely not a bad place to install.  PROs: It requires no tools or special hardware to install and rafters are abundant in any garage so you can easily move/choose locations.  Additionally, you can hang one ring from each rafter [best] to spread the load out over two points. CONs: Rafters are normally 24" apart which spaces the rings a little further apart than is comfortable.  Ideally, rings should be spaced shoulder width apart which is about 20".  Any wider than that and it adds more stress on the rotator cuff.  Another downside to the garage install can be off season use.  Some garages aren't heated in the winter so the use of the rings becomes seasonal or you've got to add a heat source to keep things comfortable.
  • Exposed Floor Joists -
    like the rafters in a garage but closer together and with decking above.  PROs:  Normally in a heated space like a basement, this makes an ideal location because you can use it year round.  CONs: Typically overhead height is minimal which means you've got to  do Muscle Ups from  the knees or an L-Sit position.  You also need some sort of mounting hardware to hang the rings from.  Warning **don't cut slots or holes in floor joists to run gymnastic ring straps through.  It's not a safe practice and weakens their integrity.  Instead, use a gymnastics ring hanger [see below].
  • Bar Joists -
    if you've got access to a commercial space that has a flat roof overhead, then you will have Bar Joists like these pictured to the right.  Those are the steel trusses that support flat roofs.  They are more than strong enough to support an athlete on a set of rings.  PROs:  Super strong, great height above the floor and easy to install.  CONs: Sometimes too high so that the rings can't be installed without a really tall ladder.  Too high also means that the rings can't be lowered far enough for ring pushups or ring rows.  If one ring is hung on each bar joist than spacing can be too far apart to be ideal as well.
  • Hard Ceilings -
    sometimes Garages or Basements can have their ceilings drywalled which hides the joists.  No worries, they are still there but you'll have to locate them before you can hang rings.  PROs: Normally, ceilings are drywalled in a heated space so year round use is possible.  That means you can pick one great location and keep the rings there permanently.  CONs:  This type of installation takes the most time.  If the drywall is unfinished then it's easy to see the location and alignment of the floor joists above.  If not, then you've got to get a stud finder and find them yourself.  This type of installation also requires mounting hardware.  Our gymnastics ring hanger comes with all mounting hardware and spaces the rings optimally so it's the best choice when you've got this type of setup.

**After installation, it's always a smart idea to double check that the rings are mounted properly and that the structure is sound, especially when hanging them in a new location or after having just adjusted their length.  Test them out before putting yourself in a position where you could get injured.

If your mounting location requires hardware as in the Exposed Floor Joists or Drywalled Ceiling, here is a simple how-to to get your gymnastics rings mounted safely and easily.

Tools you will need:
  • Gymnastics Ring Hanger
  • Step Stool or Ladder depending on height
  • Stud Finder [for Hard Ceiling areas]
  • Cordless Drill*
  • 1/4" diameter drill bit
  • 3 each 3/8" diameter by 4" long Lag Screws with oversized washers [we provide these with the ring mount]
  • Open end wrenches (good), Crescent Wrench (better) or Ratchet set (best)
  • Bar Soap [ha - not for washing but for applying to the lag screws.  It makes them screw in easier]
*If you have a corded drill then no problem but you will need an extension cord as well.
A dedicated gymnastics ring mount is the best choice.
  1. Choose the best location that gives you the best overhead clearance and the best chance of not having to move the rings once installed [see above for more info]
  2. [Exposed Joists can skip this step] You will want to install the Gymnastics Ring Mount over three studs if at all possible.  That means that you need to use your stud finder to mark three studs.  Normal building codes require floor joists spaced every 16" and our Ring Mount has three mounting holes spaced 16" apart to make mounting in floor joists easy.  Mark three studs with a pencil.  Keep the three marks all in the same straight line.
  3. Hold the Gymnastics Ring Hanger tight up to the ceiling to verify that the marks you just made coincide with the holes in the mount.  If not, double check with your stud finder the location of the studs.  If your studs are not spaced at 16" on center, you can mount the rings all on the same joist, so rotate your installation 90 degrees and mark the stud in three locations, all 16" apart.
  4. With your corded or cordless drill and the 1/4" drill bit, pre-drill each of the three holes.
  5. To make installing the lag screws easier, wipe the threads of each screw with bar soap so that some of the soap sticks on the threads.  It's easiest to hold the screw pointing away from you and scrape the soap in the direction of the screw.  Do this two or three times to each screw.
  6. If you've got an extra pair of hands [wife, husband, brother, etc] now's the time to get them.  Have them hold the ring mount in place while you ratchet in the first bolt.  Make sure you put the washer on before you screw it in.  It makes no difference which one goes in first but do NOT tighten it all the way.  Leave an inch or so gap between the ceiling and the ring mount.  Leaving the gap will help you ensure that the next two bolts go in the holes you just pre-drilled.
  7. Install the second bolt the same as the first.  Leave that same gap between the mount and the ceiling.
  8. Install the last bolt.  This time ratchet it all the way so that the ring mount snugs up to the ceiling.  You don't need to over tighten so that the drywall buckles.  Imagine you've got a piece of paper between the ceiling and the ring mount.  You want to tighten it just enough so that the paper would not come out if you pulled on it.
  9. Hang the rings really low so that you can step in them.  Test out each ring by stepping into the ring while hanging on to the strap for support.  Shift your weight up and down with small jumps to test the mount.  Repeat on the other ring.  Then get back on the step stool or ladder and inspect the ceiling and mount to see that it is secure.  If you secured it into the three studs then it's super solid and will last you a lifetime.  If you noticed that the mount is pulling away from the ceiling - STOP and relocate the mount.
We think Gymnastic Rings are among the best fitness tools for any level athlete.  We've got a package offer for gymnastics rings and a ceiling hanger system that gets you fully outfitted in one step.  Get it here.

Need some inspiration on how best to get started with your gymnastics rings?  Here's a few blog posts we wrote:

Like our install guide?  Let us know below and feel free to click the "like" button.