Thursday, December 26, 2013

If Stranded on an Island, Which Piece of Equipment Would You Want?

Notice I didn't write 'stranded on a desert island'...not sure why 'desert' island is the coined phrase.  If I had to be stranded on an island, it better be tropical.  But, as interesting and far-fetched as this question might be, it's neat to think about.  [Especially when it's 7 degrees outside] And it answers a bunch of questions, doesn't it?
Whoa - being stranded here might not be so bad...

  • What's the best piece of equipment I could own?
  • What is going to provide me the most benefit?
  • What piece will challenge me the most but be able to be used at any skill level?

 Gymnastics Rings | Hammerhead Fitness
When starting your home gym, everyone wants to know what the best piece of equipment is.  And although it's doubtful that you will only ever have access to just one piece, there is some equipment that is more versatile than others.

We've jumped on the soap box on more than one occasion to give a shout out to the gymnastics rings as being the number one piece.  And we haven't changed out opinion on that, we still feel that dollar for dollar they are one of the best pieces you can own.  But maybe gymnastics rings wasn't the first thing that popped in your head as you were answering the question in the title?

Well, if I'm going to be life long mates with a piece of equipment, it better over deliver.  That means it had better pass my golden rule with flying colors"

If you can't perform at least five exercises with it, then don't start your gym with it.

Ok - there's a big check mark next to this one for gymnastics rings.  We can easily perform more than five exercises and one of the really incredible things is that in some of these exercises we can also change intensity/difficulty level as well.

  1. Ring Push Ups
  2. Ring Rows
  3. Dips
  4. Pull Ups
  5. Muscle Ups
  6. Front/Back Levers
  7. Reverse Curls
  8. Handstand Push Ups
  9. Front/Back Pulls
  10. L-Sits
 Wood Gymnastics Rings | Hammerhead Fitness
The reason we like equipment items like the rings so much is that they are useable by any level athlete.  Anyone can pull them out of their gym bag and put them into use.  Maybe every athlete isn't ready for the Muscle Up, but beginning level exercises like the Ring Row or Ring Push Ups are surely within reach.  Adjusting the height of the rings can increase/decrease the level of difficulty of these exercises, too.

That's one of the remarkable things about the gymnastics rings - leverage.  Depending on how you change the leverage, the difficulty of an exercise can change drastically.  And that's a good thing.  Let's have a look at the Ring Push Up.  By changing the height of the rings or the feet, the intensity of the exercise can move from beginner to advanced - all with one piece of equipment.  The standard ring push up setup is rings adjusted to about two inches off the floor - just enough height to get your hands on them without touching the floor.  If these pushups prove too challenging, raise the height of the rings.  If not enough of a challenge, keep the rings at the same height but raise your feet.

The same goes for Ring Rows.  The standard position for the ring row is rings hanging above the body and when you've grasped them, your body is nearly parallel with the floor.  Pull your chest to the rings.  Repeat.  If this proves too difficult, raise the height of the rings.  If too easy, raise the feet.

With just two exercises we can dramatically change the intensity all with one piece of equipment.  And although we also love the kettlebell as a great training tool which passes our Golden Rule easily, the range of leverage and difficulty with owning just one weight does not compare to what can be done with gymnastics rings.

Some might be quick to point out that there isn't much [or anything, really] that can be done for the lower body with gymnastics rings.  True.  Nothing comes to mind.  But if I were stranded on that island I guess I would spend a lot of time working on the Single Leg Squat.

The moral of the story - the next time you are traveling over water in the tropics, be sure to have a set of our gymnastics rings in your carry on :D

Have another great piece that you think outranks the gymnastics rings?  Chime in and let us know what you think.