Calisthenics on Gymnastic Rings

calisthenics on the rings

If you are into calisthenics you have probably heard of or even used gymnastic rings. You can do a lot of upper body exercises with rings and the difficulty level is often a lot higher than exercising on a bar. We want to help you get started with calisthenics on rings. As always, we keep things realistic and simple for beginners in calisthenics.

Why Use Rings in Calisthenics

If you never used rings before you are missing out on a lot of great exercises. Why? Because rings provide an instant increase in difficulty level since they are loose, like bands. Your core stability is immediately put to the test when you start using rings. This makes normal pull-ups more functional and more difficult. Here are some of the advantages of using rings.

  • Once you start with beginner’s ring exercises your core will be trained instantly.  
  • Rings are very small and light so you can take them anywhere you want. You can use them at home, in the gym or in a calisthenics park by hanging them on a firm bar. 
  • Ring training builds targets core stabilization muscle a lot, but also regular strength and hypertrophy.
  • With rings, you can perform great exercises to increase mobility in your wrists, elbows and shoulders.

Here are four calisthenics exercises you can start with on the rings.

calisthenics on the rings

Exercise 1: Ring Rows 

Let’s start with how to use the rings. Put the straps around the rings and bar. Next, make sure you fasten the strap from behind the clamp so it won’t come loose when you hang on the rings. Using the straps, you can adjust the height of the rings for different exercises. Here is an instruction video on how to attach the gymnastic rings.

How to attach the rings

Starting Position 

The rings should hang at a level between chest and belly button. The lower the rings, the heavier the exercise will be. Take the rings in a pronated or regular grip. Pronated means palms facing downwards and regular means palms facing each other. Stretch your arms and legs and just hang. The more you put your feet forward the more you’re hanging properly. Your body should always contract the abdomen.

How to Perform the Exercise 

Pull yourself up with your chest towards the rings. Only your arms should be moving, the rest of your body stays extended. Then slowly return to the starting position. Often, your feet will slide away so you can’t hold your position. If this happens, check for something to put your feet against so they will not slide away. 

How to Progress 

Build up to 3 times 15 reps. Start lowering the rings after that so you are levelled more horizontally. This makes the exercise a lot more difficult. 

Exercise 2: Ring Press-up/Push-up 

Starting Position 

Start with the rings a bit below your chest. They should be a bit further apart than shoulder width. Grab them in a pronated grip. Then stretch your legs behind your body. Start with your arms bended and the rings against your chest. Make sure to contract your abdomen. 

How to Perform the Exercise 

Push yourself up from the rings by extending your elbows. Make sure your elbows are aligned with your body and are not pointing outwards. This targets your chest and triceps more and your shoulders less. Slowly go back to your starting position.

RELATED:  The 5 Best Shoulder Exercises for Beginners in Calisthenics

How to Progress 

Build this up to 3 times 20 reps. The more you lower the rings the more difficult this exercise gets. It will also become more of a push-up than a press-up when you start lowering the rings. 

Exercise 3: Skin the Cat 

Skin the cat is an exercise for shoulder mobility and strength. With a proper form you can decrease the chances of getting an injury. It works on shoulder stabilizers, latissimus dorsi, abdominal muscles and triceps. This exercise will help you get better at the front lever, back lever and with pulling exercises.

Starting Position 

Start with your arms in a active dead hang (scapula pull-up). Contract your abdomen and pull your toes towards your body. 

How to Perform the Exercise 

Next, pull your toes towards the rings until your body is in a pike position. Roll up your body until your legs are over your head and start descending them. It’s like making a backflip.  Allow the rings to rotate in a natural position for your shoulders (mostly pronated) as you approach the final position. You will end up with your back bended, toes pointing towards the ground and your shoulders in a retroflexion. Make sure to keep your arms stretched during the entire exercise and your core tight. 

How to Progress 

Try this 3 times 15 reps. It’s not an easy exercise. But it will greatly increase your shoulder mobility. If this becomes to easy for you, try the tucked back lever. 

Exercise 4: Front Lever Tucked Hang on the Rings

The front lever tucked hang is a beginner’s exercise for the front lever. It’s great for your core stability. 

Starting Position 

Start with your arms in a active dead hang (see back lever). Contract your abdomen and lift up your lower body with your knees bend until your trunk hangs horizontally. Make sure your start with your knees raised to your chest. 

How to Perform this Exercise 

Perform a static hold as your starting position. Make sure your arms are stretched, shoulders are retracted, your trunk is contracted and knees are tucked in. Next, lower one leg at a time and keep your body contracted for as long as possible. Do not just let everything go and loose control. 

How to Progress 

If you can hold this position for 3 times 20 seconds, progress to move one knee towards a 90 degree angle. Switch between sides. If this gets too easy, try both knees at the same time in this position. It is called an advanced tuck front lever. By doing this, you can work towards the front lever. But it won’t be easy. 

There is a lot you can do on the rings

These are 4 calisthenics ring exercises for beginners for your upper body. Does it make you want to try? Click here to get the equipment you need. And stay tuned for more articles on ring exercises. You can find a ton of calisthenics exercises right here. And of course, we are always happy to help you with a personalised training program too.

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