How to Use Gymnastic Rings (Complete Workout!)

July 19, 2016 by VAHVA Fitness

How to use gymnastic rings (beginner to advanced). Complete upper body workout with gymnastic rings to build strength and size.

Whether you workout at home or in a gym, gymnastic rings are one of the best tools you have access to. TRX is a fine alternative as well.

You can hang gymnastic rings almost anywhere and you can really hit your entire upper body with them. 

Gymnastic rings add a new instability element to the basic exercises like push ups or dips which not only makes the exercises harder but also more effective.

Many stabilizer muscles will get more work done and this will also require more from your central nervous system, which then will translate to more strength. 

Rings are very inexpensive and a great tool for anyone interested in taking the strength training one step further. Wooden rings offer a better and more comfortable grip.

Below is a complete upper body workout that targets every muscle group in the upper body. Your biceps, triceps and core are also isolated to promote more growth in these areas. 

Ring Workout for the Upper Body

Alternating wide and narrow ring push ups: 4 x 6-10 repetitions

Alternating narrow and bulgarian (wide) inverted rows: 4 x 6-10 repetitions

Ring bicep curls: 3 x 8-10 repetitions

Ring tricep extensions: 3 x 8-10 repetitions

Ab-rollout hold: 4 x 15-30 seconds

Take 1-2 minutes of rest between sets and exercises.

Adjust the height of the rings to your level of fitness (the higher the rings, the easier the exercises will be).

Narrow & Wide Push Ups

ring push ups for chest

Alternating wide and narrow ring push ups to hit all the horizontal push muscles. With wide push ups your elbows are supposed to flare outside (this is called transverse flexion of the shoulder joint). 

The narrow grip will target more the triceps, anterior shoulders and serratus anterior, whereas the wide grip will target the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor.

If you have always done push ups a certain way (wide or narrow), then you especially need to try the opposite variation to ensure the structural balance of the body.

Narrow & Bulgarian Rows

ring push ups for chest

Alternating conventional inverted rows with bulgarian rows. Bulgarian rows are basically wide inverted rows where your elbows travel outside of your body.

The conventional inverted row will target your lats and biceps very nicely. The bulgarian row however will mainly hit the posterior deltoid. 

With the bulgarian row you can try out different grips (palms facing each other or pinkies facing outside) to get a very different stimulus.

These two are the very foundation of horizontal pulling and shouldn't be neglected. This is also the reason why they are some of the many pulling exercises of Movement 20XX.

Ring Bicep Curls

ring bicep curls
trx bicep curls

Ring bicep curls are a phenomenal way to hit your biceps with just your bodyweight. The stimulus is also very different compared to many bicep exercises with weights!

The ring bicep curls will strengthen the biceps in the entire range of motion and are similar to the spider curls with weights.

These are good for developing size and strength in the biceps and even brachialis. Can also improve the peak of the bicep thanks to the brachialis engagement. 

You can also alter the exercise to destroy your forearms by using a pronated grip (palms facing forward). This will make your forearms burn like never before because you need to do a wrist extension while flexing the elbow joint with your brachioradialis (a forearm muscle). 

Ring Tricep Extensions

ring tricep extensions

Ring tricep extensions are one of the most brutal tricep exercises out there. You lower yourself down and then push yourself up to straight arms with just your triceps alone.

You will feel an enormous burn with the tricep extension and this is a great thing. Your core also needs to work super hard to keep your body stable in the position.

Start easy (height of the rings should be high in the beginning) and don't overdo this exercise. Many people hurt their elbows by placing their elbows under too much pressure too soon.

Ring Ab-Rollout

ring tricep extensions

Ring ab-rollout is the best ab exercise you can do with gymnastic rings or TRX. This will work your abdominal muscles very effectively.

It's basically the same exercise as the ab-wheel rollout but the difficulty is easier to adjust and the ring ab-rollout tends to be easier for the shoulders.

Your triceps will be nicely stretched. You don't have to keep your arms completely straight if it's too demanding for your shoulder mobility.

Keep the lower back flat, because otherwise you are working your lower back muscles - not the abs!

This is a great finisher for your workout. If you did the previous exercises right, your abs should be very tired already.

Train hard, stay safe.

samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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