Monday, January 13, 2014

Gymnastics Rings - How to Set Them Up

I've been involved in fitness my entire adult life from pursuing it through high school athletics and in the military and beyond.  I've had several memberships to the well known globo gyms and I've even owned a few home gym machines in my time.  For their part, they did their thing.  But, after I started following the CrossFit® Main Page back in 2006, I have to admit that gymnastics rings really intrigued me.  I had never even thought of owning a set because I had never seen them in use outside of the olympics.  And obviously most of what we see there is beyond the reach of most mortals. :)

One of misconceptions I had was that gymnastics rings are only for advanced level athletes.  Although it is true that there are some wildly stunning movements that olympic athletes perform on them [Planche, Maltese, Front and Back Levers to name a few].  But ring training is still within reach of the beginning or intermediate level athlete.  Sure, most won't pull them out of the box and start cranking out Muscle Ups and Iron Crosses, but there are still a bunch of functional movements that you can use them for.  And as we've commented on before - they are portable, quiet, lightweight and based on how you set them up or what exercise you perform they can challenge any level athlete.  That's good stuff.  It's completely different from a kettlebell, for instance.  Yes, kettlebells are great but a 55lb kettlebell cannot appeal to all athlete levels/abilities the way that a set of gymnastics rings can.

Gymnastics rings were actually one of my very first purchases once I was introduced to CrossFit®.  And whether you've just bought a set or are considering it for the future, we've put together a simple startup/setup video to help you get them out of the box and prepared for use.  Our short video describes how to mount the rings, position the cam buckles and how best to store away the loose ends of the straps.  One thing I did not mention in the video is how far apart the rings should be to make them the most comfortable.  Our Gymnastics Rings Mount that is installed overhead keeps them spaced at 19" apart.  That is generally going to be the most comfortable for all athletes.  As you step in between the rings to use them they should be hanging at shoulder width distance.  If you are mounting on a pull up bar or other structurally sound member, you can slide them to this distance.

To get the rings incorporated into your workouts quickly, and to develop strength and confidence in them, we suggest that after your warmup, use the rings [or any new movement for that matter] in a couplet with the EMOM [Every Minute on the Minute] timing pattern.

For instance, take one exercise that you feel comfortable with such as the Deadlift and pair it with one new exercise on the rings such as Ring Dips.  Start the timer for the EMOM and work 3 heavy deadlifts the first minute then 5 ring dips the second minute.  Repeat this for 10 minutes alternating between deadlifts and ring dips.  In this type of workout, adjust the reps up/down to allow yourself some rest before the minute expires.  By keeping reps relatively low you allow sufficient time to recover before you've got to jump back on the rings again.  And you are giving your body a chance to learn the movements before you put them in a "For Time" workout.

We are big fans of this approach to training [Warmup-Skill-Strength-Metcon-Stretch] since it lends itself so well to accomplishing many goals in one training day.  Lance and Chelsea at CrossFit Victor in our hometown have been using this approach to training since they opened and it's super smart and effective.