Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Three Gymnastic Ring Exercises Every Beginner Can Do

Gymnastic Rings can be intimidating for those who associate them only with olympic level athletes.  But the truth is that there are more than a handful of gymnastic ring exercises for beginners that most anyone can do right out of the box.  And with their unique scalability, gymnastics rings can really be in everyone's gym bag from the beginning level athlete to the very elite.

Easy to carry with you to the gym and super simple to setup either at the gym or at home, gymnastics rings can be and should be incorporated into every one of your training sessions without fear of getting bored and without the risk of overtraining a muscle group.

If you're only reaching for your Gymnastics Rings for the basic movements of Ring Dips, Ring Pushups and Muscle Ups, you're really missing out on everything that they have to offer.  And training only this small handful of exercises can quickly lead to boredom and overtraining.

If we had our way, Gymnastics Rings would hanging in every Garage Gym and Commercial Fitness Facility out there.  We're big fans of how incredibly scalable the rings are to be able to appeal to the first time user yet armed with gymnastic rings alone and consistent training, an athlete can reach some amazing levels of strength.

So if you're bored with the same grab bag of gymnastics rings exercises or maybe think gymnastics rings are beyond you, here's three fantastic principle exercises that are simple to set up and deceptively effective.  These three basic movements we'll introduce today will help you build strength and confidence in rings without pushing you past your comfort zone.  And with so many adaptations, you can keep things mixed up easily to stave off overtraining and can keep those gains coming.

Static Holds - Simple in appearance yet remarkably foundational and necessary for all gymnastic ring exercises is the static hold.  And there are literally a dozen different static holds all of which are incredibly effective at building upper body and core strength.  If you've watched any elite level gymnast on rings, you'll notice right away that their feet only touch the ground at the end of their routine.  That means they've got to get super comfortable hanging from the rings from a multitude of support positions. And you can benefit from this type of training too.

One of the best ways to build strength in any of the static holds we'll discuss below is to work with the EMOM system or Every Minute On the Minute.  Set your timer to count up from zero and have a goal to hold the position for 10-15 seconds at the top of each minute for 10 minutes.  Rest for the remaining time until the top of the minute comes around again.

Here are four basic hold positions that you can do while hanging gymnastic rings from an overhead rafter or even a wall mounted pull up bar.  Incorporate 2-3 of them every week either as a warm up or cool down.

  • Top Supported Position - It's easiest to describe this hold as that 'top of the ring dip' hold.  Set the rings at a height above your hips such that when you jump and extend your legs, your feet are just inches away from the floor.  Keep the rings held so that your wrists are facing your hips.
  • Plank Supported Position - Another fantastic static hold position is the plank hold.  More challenging than holding the plank with palms on the floor but also much more effective.  Set the gymnastic rings to within an inch of the floor and hold a solid plank with the EMOM method.
  • Tuck Holds - Set the rings at shoulder height and jump on into a tuck position [knees to your chest].  You should be looking at the ceiling as you support your body below the level of the rings.  The tighter you hold your tuck position, the easier the hold.
  • Reverse Tuck Hold - With the rings again at shoulder height, now stand with the rings hanging slightly behind you.  Bend at the hip toward the floor and grab the rings behind you as you pick your feet off the floor.  Again, the tighter the tuck position, the easier the hold.

The Ring Turn Out - Amazingly effective in building shoulder strength and flexibility is this visually simple yet incredibly humbling exercise.  From the Top Supported Position with your wrists facing your hips [rings parallel], begin to turn your wrists to the front.  This movement sounds incredibly easy but you will find that with your first few attempts you may not seem to be turning the rings out at all.  Stick with stand you will see progress.  To make the ring turn out easier, try the movement from the Plank Supported Position.  The added leverage you have and less weight bearing on the shoulders will make the movement easier and will help you build confidence and flexibility before moving on to the Top Supported Position.

The "Roll" Out - Gymnastic Rings exercises can tend to favor building upper body strength, but this one variation hits your core like nothing else.  Hang one gymnastic ring so that it is inches from the floor.  Begin this exercise from a kneeling position in front of the ring with both hands grabbing the ring like a steering wheel - one hand at 3PM and the other at 9PM.  Move the ring toward the floor until all slack is taken out of the strap.  Now, keeping your knees on the floor, push the ring out in front of you while keeping your elbows ad hips only slightly bent.  Move the ring out as far in front as possible then return to the starting position.  This movement is normally done with an Ab Wheel but gymnastic rings work well too.  To add difficulty, adjust your hands to 11 and 1 and start with your feet on the floor just under the gymnastic ring.