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It took a couple years of calisthenics training to stumble upon one of those things “I never knew I was missing.” As far as I knew, working out on the pull-up bars and the dip bars was the end-all be-all approach to ideal calisthenics training. The possibilities for different exercises, variations and progressions truly is unlimited. But while the potential of exercising on bars is amazing, don’t let yourself get tunnel vision like I did. Gymnastic rings open up even more possibilities for your calisthenic training, and arguably have even more to offer! You may think you’ve got all the strength in the world while doing pullups on the bar, but try them for the first time with your rings and you’ll quickly see how far you have yet to go. All that said, I believe there are many reasons why you should buy gymnastics rings. Keep reading to see what my reasons are.
Why You Should Buy Gymnastics Rings: Reason #1
You get to perform your favorite calisthenics moves in challenging new ways.
Pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, even push-ups and squats are all possible with gymnastic rings. You will immediately feel the difference in your upper body workouts – the challenge is heightened a LOT when you make the switch from bars/the floor to gymnastic rings. The hanging, , rotating, and swinging nature of the rings means you need a lot more control in your entire body in order to perform something like a pull-up. Your core will always be working hard too, no matter what you’re doing. Adjust the lengths of the cords to make your workouts harder or easier.
Lower body workouts can be tweaked as well – try going for the pistol squat with the rings bearing some of your weight, or do jump squats while leaning backward for less joint impact and weight bearing.
Why You Should Buy Gymnastics Rings: Reason #2
You can do completely new calisthenics moves that you couldn’t have done before.
Add in the rings’ suspension to perform extremely effective calisthenics exercises like the Y-raise for your shoulders, or flies for your chest and back, or suspension pikes for your core. For legs, try out the difficult hamstring glides by putting a table or elevated platform in front of the rings. Experimentation with your body and strength will result in unique moves that you never would have been able to pull off with just the bars.
Why You Should Buy Gymnastics Rings: Reason #3
They are sturdier, safer, more economical, and more adjustable than the competition.
To be fair, many of the amazing ring exercises I mention can also be done with resistance bands or TRX, but they just aren’t as effective. Sidenote: I have my reasons for not being a big TRX fan, but that is a story for another post. Furthermore, resistance bands aren’t as sturdy and their overall design often means that they are liable to eventually snap with repeated motions. They also aren’t as long as the bands on gymnastic rings, so there won’t be as much potential for range of motion. The rings are just plain more worth the modest investment than their competition.
Why You Should Buy Gymnastics Rings: Reason #4
Exercises are more scalable and have wider ranges of motion.
If you are having trouble with a certain exercise, the gymnastic rings can be an amazing way to make progress to reach your goal. There are multiple options to scale your workouts with the rings:
- Adjust the length of the bands. Longer band length means more potential for shaking or swinging, so a short band will lessen this and make certain moves easier.
- Adjust the height of the rings. Other moves’ difficulty depends on the height of the rings from the ground or floor. Progress your pushing strength by starting off with the rings higher up, and then slowly lowering them to the ground as you get stronger and the moves get easier.
- Adjust the angle of your body. If you want to make, say, a reverse fly easier, simply grab the rings and slightly lean your body back at a steeper angle. As you get stronger, bring your body lower and lower to the ground or floor to increase the amount of weight you have to bear.
- Adjust the positions of your feet and/or legs. If you want to make something like a bodyweight row easier at first, all you’d have to do is bend your legs slightly, or place your legs in a lunge position to lower the amount of weight you need to pull.
Why You Should Buy Gymnastics Rings: Reason #5
New muscles are targeted (whether you like it or not).
Because the gymnastic rings are both swinging and rotating, you will be hitting certain muscles HARD that you otherwise wouldn’t have even noticed. The most noticeable to me are the scapula and forearm regions of my body, but there are definitely others in the posterior chain (upper back down to the calves) and core that you will feel as well. More of your muscles will have no choice but to work with you as you push, pull, lower, flex and contract as you do the many different bodyweight-centric workouts. The possibility of rotating your wrists and arms adds much more than you’d expect. And, my grip strength has improved a lot as well.
…And One Final Reason
You can combine multiple calisthenic motions into single reps.
Can you do a dip, a pull-up, a skin-the-cat, and a leg lift in one consecutive motion on a pull-up bar? Well, maybe you can, but it looks and feels more natural when it’s done with gymnastics rings. At the same time, you can rotate your wrists and arms to hit so many upper body muscles you don’t even know what was getting worked out because everything is sore the next day!
Gymnastic Rings – They Aren’t Just for Gymnastics
These are just a few of the reasons why you should buy gymnastics rings, but there are definitely more that I haven’t mentioned. The benefits are amazing for any kind of fitness goals, but for bodyweight trainers like you and me, getting started on gymnastic rings is particularly exciting for our style of exercise, which is already full of cool and unique ways to train.
Do you have a pair of gymnastic rings? How do you like them, and what benefits have you experienced from using them? Let me know in the comments below! And in the meantime, check out my review for the PACEARTH Gymnastic Rings, which I consider a solid starter pair for those still on the fence.
And hey – remember to stretch!