Athlete using a GND Gym Ring set

Calisthenics Exercises for Gym Rings

Garth Stivey

Calisthenics Exercises for Gym Rings

Most people under-estimate the potential of gym rings. They think that they are an advanced tool for people who are strong enough to do the types of moves you see athletes doing at the Olympics. Yes, gym rings will allow you to do those advanced moves like the iron cross and the planche, they are also an excellent tool to do virtually every calisthenics movement that exists. In this article, I’ll show you how to use gym rings for calisthenics exercises.

What are Calisthenics Exercises?

Calisthenics exercises are more commonly known as body weight exercises. They are movements that use your body and gravity to form the resistance needed to work your muscles. The most common calisthenics exercises are push ups, pull ups, body weight squats and the plank. Most of us were introduced to these movements during P.E. class at school. 

The problem with calisthenics exercises is that they are limited in resistance by body weight. After you have been training for some time, your strength will develop to the point where you will need extra resistance in order to continue making gains. You can add resistance by wearing a weight vest. You can also make the exercise harder by doing more repetitions.

Gym rings provide you with another way to make calisthenics exercises more difficult. This makes doing your calisthenics workout on rings the ideal next step up from doing conventional body weight exercises.

The ability to adjust the height of the rings makes it perfect to perform bodyweight exercises that you do close to the floor. 

Getting Ready for Gym Calisthenics Exercises

The biggest difference you will notice when you begin doing a calisthenics exercise on gymnastic rings is that there is a lot more instability. That is because you are suspending part or all of your body in midair. This makes the movement more difficult, forcing your body to deal with stability and balance issues at the same time that it is performing the primary function of moving against the resistance of gravity. 

As a result of this instability, you will notice a big difference when you begin to do a calisthenics movement on the rings. I recommend taking some time to train your body to get used to this instability before you begin your calisthenics ring workout program. To do this, simply get into the starting position for each of the exercises you will be doing in the program and hold the start position. Start with a 10 second hold and increase by 5 seconds each day. Do this for a week and you’ll be ready to move onto the program proper. 

Calisthenics Ring Workout

Push Ups

When you do push ups on rings, you are effectively able to combine a flye motion into the exercise. That’s because your hands will naturally stretch out as you go down. As a result, you will experience a tremendous stretch, and resulting pump, from this version of the push up. It also makes the exercise a lot harder.

  1. Position the ring about 60 cm from the floor. Grab the handles and get down into a push up position with your feet on the ground behind you, with legs straight and feet together.
  2. From a starting position with your arms extended and hands together, lower your torso to the floor as you allow your arms to spread apart. Go down until your arms are fully extended.
  3. Reverse the motion to return to the start position.

Triceps Extensions

  1. Set the rings at waist level and stand about 45 cm behind them.
  2. Grab the handles with an overhand grip and bend your elbows as you lower your torso toward the rings. Keep going until your chest touches your hands.
  3. Push through the triceps to return to the start position. 

Row

  1. Set up the rings so that they are at arm’s length when you're lying on the floor under them.
  2. Lie under the rings with your legs straight and feet together. Reach up to grab the rings.  
  3. Keeping your core tight and your body in a straight light, pull through the lats to bring your torso up to the level of the rings.
  4. Hold the top position for a second as you squeeze your lasts, then lower back to the start position. 

Chin Up

  1. Set up the rings about 30 cm above your head. Now reach up to grab the handles with a palms facing grip.
  2. Hang from the rings with your knees slightly bent.
  3. From a dead hang, engage the lats, depress the shoulder and push your chest up. 
  4. Now pull yourself directly up to full extension. As you come up, turn your palms so that, in the top position, they are facing in toward your body. 

Bicep Curl

  1. Set the rings up at chest level and stand about 30 cm behind them. 
  2. Reach forward to grab the rings with a palms up grip.
  3. Lean back until your arms are fully extended and your body is at about a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  4. Now pull through the biceps to fully contract your biceps.

The Workout

  • Push Up - 3 x 10 / 10/ Failure
  • Tricep Extension - 3 x 10 / 10 /10
  • Row - 3 x 12 /12 /10
  • Chin Up - 3 x 10 / 10 /Failure
  • Bicep Curl -  3 x 10 / 10 / 10

Conclusion

Gyn rings are the ideal tool to take your calisthenics workouts to the next level. Be sure to spend some time getting used to the instability of the movement first, Then, having maxed out on standard calisthenics exercises, move to the workout described above. Do this workout 3 times per week on alternate days for best results. 

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