Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Gymnastic Ring Exercises for Beginners

By far one of the most lightweight, portable and versatile pieces of strength equipment on the market is gymnastic rings.

The instability that they provide recruits more stabilizer muscles.  Like many exercises with the kettlebell, movements with gymnastics rings require that both sides of your body work equally with no one side compensating for the other.

The gymnastic ring holds a stigma that it is a training tool for only the very elite, yet we've found that to be quite the contrary.  Not only is the instability of the gymnastic ring one of its golden attributes, but the fact that through proper application of leverage, the level of difficulty can be increased or decreased dramatically and everyone can take advantage of the amazing strength levels it can bring.

So, for those that are wary of this fabulous training tool we'll show you seven exercises that you can do today.

  1. Ring Rows - with your body weight supported below the gymnastic rings, the instability is greatly lessened.  And that's not a bad thing, especially when you are first starting out.  For the ring row, start by hanging the gymnastics rings so that the bottom of the ring is level with your waist.  Grab the rings with both hands and lower your body to a supported position underneath.  Keep your core tight and your body position flat.  Raise your chest to the rings as high as possible and lower again to the starting position.  Work in sets of 3-5 with a continuously running clock, beginning work at the top of each minute.  Rest more if needed.  Gear Tip:  The natural position of the hands during the movement is palms facing each other.  To increase difficulty and to vary the muscles worked, rotate the palms to either facing your feet or facing your head.
  2. Supported Position - working the supported position above the rings is another great beginning exercise that anyone can do.  With a continuously running clock and the gymnastics rings hung from waist high position, grab the rings and jump up into a fully supported position with arms straight and close to your hips.  Hold the position for 5-10 seconds then lower yourself to the floor.  At the top of each minute jump into position.  Work on this movement for sets of 3-5.  When you've got this movement mastered, increase the difficulty by turning the rings out so that your wrists are facing front.
    The Supported Position
  3. Plank Hold - Position the gymnastics rings so that they are 2-3 inches from the floor.  Get into a good plank position with a straight back and tight core then grab a ring with each hand.  Like the supported position above, work on holding the plank for 5-10 seconds each minute for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Inverted Tuck Hangs - For those that are a bit more adventurous, hang the gymnastics rings just above waist level, grab each ring and move your body into an inverted tuck hang position.  If you are just starting out with this movement, first move your body into the ring row position then bring both of your knees to your chest.  This collapsed body position is called the 'tuck'.  Hold the tuck for 5-10 seconds each minute for 3-5 minutes.  Tip:  Once this supported position becomes comfortable at 10 or more seconds, work on extending your feet up to the ceiling for the fully inverted hang.
  5. Ring Dip Negative - with the rings at waist level and starting from a supported position above the rings, lower your body slowly keeping your arms in close.  Hold at the bottom for 3-5 seconds then jump up to a fully supported position above the rings.  Repeat for 3-5 reps every minute for 3-5 minutes.
    Negative Ring Dips are a great precursor to the Dip
  6. Leg Raises - With the gymnastics rings positioned overhead, grab the rings so that your body is fully extended from your arms to your toes.  Optimally, you should have to jump just a few inches to be able to grab the rings.  From this hang position bring the knees up as high as possible, curling the lower back as the knees approach the chest.  Variation:  Once this exercise is mastered, work towards getting the toes to touch the rings.
  7. Ring Rotations - absolutely stellar at building shoulder stability and strength is the gymnastic ring rotation.  It sounds simple but it is challenging to do at first.  From any of the above supported positions, work on rotating the wrists from pointing toward the hips [most natural position when first learning] to pointing away from the body.  You may find that your mobility and strength only allow you to turn the rings only slightly [especially when your body is supported above the rings] but keep at it and as your strength improves your ability to rotate the rings will too.  Even if you are turning the rings slightly at first, keep at it.  To make the movement easier, rotate the rings while in the ring pushup position.  Once your strength improves, rotate the rings from a fully supported position [top of the ring dip].  Advanced: Once this movement becomes fluid and strong, add it to the top position of every gymnastics ring dip.
Ready to add one of the most versatile and effective strength training tools to your gym?  Here's a great set of gymnastics rings that are easy to install.

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