If you’re struggling to get into gymnastic rings, then the Power Monkey Ring Thing may be just the thing you’re looking for. We’ve discussed at length how gymnastic rings can drastically improve your Calisthenics experience. Improvement, however, comes at a price. That price is a harder workout, more pain and more sweating. If you want to improve, you have to endure. Gymnastic rings though are on a whole different level of endurance. If you’ve ever seen Olympic gymnasts using the rings, and their Herculean bodily physique, you can tell that the rings are one of the hardest gymnastic exercises a human body could do. But there is a solution to this conundrum, one which would even allow children to use the gymnastic rings. That solution is called the Power Monkey Ring Thing, at least according to the people behind it. We were naturally intrigued by this prospect. Today, you’ll find out what we’ve learned in our Power Monkey Ring Thing review.
What is the Power Monkey Ring Thing?
In the simplest terms, the Power Monkey Ring Thing® is a system of pulleys which suspends a harness. You as the practitioner wear this harness, which works in conjunction with a set of gymnastic rings. The pulleys take away up to 50% of your bodyweight, making your feel lighter. This makes the gymnastic rings exercises easier to do. The Power Monkey Ring Thing is a trademarked brand, developed by the Power Monkey team, with the aim to get more people to do gymnastics.
Why Use the Power Monkey Ring Thing?
Technique is the most important aspect of both gymnastic and Calisthenics exercise. Without proper technique, you run a big risk of suffering injury. Even if you’re strong enough to not suffer acute injury, you could very well be developing long-term injuries because of improper technique repeated over time. The first mistake is often made when brute strength is used to overcome an obstacle; for instance, pushing more weight than you should, so you strain your muscles in improper ways to get that extra rep in. Gymnastic rings are hard to use by their very nature. The rope can sway and the rings are never truly stationary unless you make them so with your body.
All of these difficulties can make learning proper technique with the gymnastic rings very hard to do. And, a mistake once learnt takes forever to unlearn. The Power Monkey Ring Thing takes away some of the load of your bodyweight, allowing you to concentrate on proper technique. This develops the right muscle-mass and you can increase the difficulty gradually over time.
The Power behind Power Monkey
The story of Power Monkey starts with Dave Durante and Shane Geraghty, two acrobats who chanced upon one another at a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Set in 2010. It was their vision to make proper gymnastics accessible to a wider audience. We say proper here because there are a lot of misconceptions flying around about how to lead a healthy, active life. Sadly, this includes a lot of websites and blogs selling just about whatever, things that don’t work or are even counterproductive. Power Monkey was created with a heavy emphasis, a focus even, on teaching proper technique. Since then, the project has grown far beyond the scope of what two visionaries could ever hope to achieve on their own.
Power Monkey is the home of professional coaches and gymnasts, all of who were elite athletes of Pan Am, World and even Olympic tenure. They develop programs targeting people of all age groups, from child to elderly, and all body types to get fit in a healthy and safe way. The Power Monkey Ring Thing is one of their developments.
Our Expectations for this Power Monkey Ring Thing Review
Before this review, we’ve never used any sort of pulley system to help with our gymnastic rings exercises. So, this was a first for us and we were excited to get going. To temper that excitement, we first stuck our heads together and gathered all our thoughts. We decided on the following to give you, our loyal reader, the fairest impression and what you can expect from the Power Monkey Ring Thing:
- We’ve done a baseline test on a set of Gornation Gymnastic Rings to determine how we stacked up against one another in terms of upper-body strength. This gave us an insight on who would benefit most of the weight reduction caused by the Power Monkey Ring Thing.
- Two people from the outside were involved, one adult female, aged 27 and who does regular fitness but not pull-ups or any ring-work and one child, male and aged 12 who plays soccer but hasn’t ever seen a gym from the inside in his life.
- We will all be doing the Power Monkey proscribed pull-up, muscle up, inversion, front and back lever exercises.
Is this a scientific test? No, but what we expect is twofold: for our buffed, trained Calisthenics experts we expect the gymnastic rings to feel like they’re floating. We expect them to pull too hard and overcompensate all their techniques because the weight and resistance they are used too has suddenly lessened. For our, let’s say, uninitiated we expect them to perform all the regular gymnastic ring exercises in full sets and quite slow in movement.
How to Hang the Power Monkey Ring Thing
Installing the Power Monkey Ring Thing was surprisingly easy. Once we got them hanging, the rings and harness kind of naturally hung in place. You can view a very clear, step-by-step guide to hanging and getting into your Power Monkey Ring Thing on their YouTube channel. Some hints and tips from us:
- Using carabiner hooks makes things so much easier
- Use beam clamps wherever possible. An alternative would be sufficient gauge loop head screws screwed all the way into a solid timber beam.
Ease of Use
Hanging the Power Monkey Ring Thing is easy enough and, when you’ve put on the harness once you’ll never ask for advice again. After that, doing our exercises became super easy to do. At half our weight, we were easily beating our regular sets and reps. We could even pretend we were Olympic contestants by doing dramatic, slow-motion transitions between stances and repetitions. It definitely takes most of the edge off the difficulty that comes with essentially turning your body into deadweight you need to haul.
Our uninitiated practitioners also managed to complete all of their sets and reps without too much difficulty. Of course, there was some proverbial teeth grinding at ends of every exercise, but that is what should happen. This system allows them to build up the needed muscle mass to complete full sets over time. Most importantly, they could now perform their movements more slowly, allowing them to focus more on the proper execution of the technique. It also gave us, instructors, a better view of what they were doing with their bodies and correct them where needed.
With a felt reduction of 50% of your body-weight, your arms certainly are more comfortable. Of course, the weight is not gone, it’s just being held up by the pulley system and there needs to be a contact point somewhere to suspend this weight by. This happens through the waist belt and the leg straps. All of these should fit very firm and not slip at all. This is a tighter fit than you might think and you can really feel it clamping down around you. It’s not uncomfortable per se, but you can definitely feel it’s there.
Is it exactly 50% of your weight that gets reduced? We haven’t measured it exactly, but it feels like in that ballpark. But that’s not the kind of effectiveness we’re after, now, are we? What we really want to know is, does this help build up your technique and ultimately, your upper-body strength? We’ve seen countless people at the gym who pull too much weight and after months of trying they wonder why they haven’t improved any.
The key to Calisthenics, and any sort of sports really, is gradual muscle overload. With no overload, comes no strength gain. With too much overload, comes pathological muscle atrophy, in other words you become weaker. The Power Monkey Ring Thing is a more effective way to introduce a healthy amount of muscle overload and train yourself to use the gymnastic rings.
Conclusions & General Thoughts
It’s a good system, tidy and effective. Even the novice gymnast can get into gymnastic rings and make it work from the first try. The rings were of good quality and the pulleys rolled smoothly. Little things like pulley covers and Velcro straps kept everything safe and tidy. The Power Monkey Ring Thing would fit perfectly into anyone’s home gym or even a professional gym. The only gripe we had as the omission of carabiner hooks and a secure way of fixing the straps to the ceiling. You’ll have to buy your own clamps or screws separately.
Other Power Monkey Key Takeaways
Power Monkey not only offers the Ring Thing. Here are some other interesting takeaways we got from their website and platform.
Monkey Method App
The Monkey Method app contains over 1200 exercises you can do for free. This Calisthenics app tracks your progression and comes with instructional videos. It also sets a baseline for where you are right now and builds up from there. It’s said to be like your own personal coach. The app is available both on Android and iOS.
Power Monkey Events
Power Monkey is most famous for their many Calisthenics events, which they host all around the world. Of course, you can find them regularly in many States as well. During these events, you’ll receive professional instruction from Olympic tier coaches who will help you develop your technique and boost your performance.
Here are some frequently asked questions which didn’t fit into our Power Monkey Ring Thing review or which we would like to clarify more.
The Power Monkey Ring Thing uses Newton’s Third Law of Motion to reduce the force needed to move your body weight. More specifically, pulleys work like levers, with your arms putting a force on the longer lever and your body being on the shorter side. Because some of the weight is resting on top of the pulley’s spinners, only half the force is needed to induce movement.
This is a question we get a lot. The Power Monkey Ring Thing relies on pulleys to decrease the load. The only way to increase the load is by reducing the number of pulleys. The way they work in Newton’s Third Law of Motion, however, means that the minimum reduction in F (force) is 50%, with 1 set of pulleys. So, it’s either 50% reduction in weight or NO reduction in weight. Your only option to gradually increase the resistance is by wearing a weighted vest.
The Power Monkey Ring Thing is rated for a safe maximum load of 400lbs. The weakest link would be the buckle which adjusts the length of the hanging straps. The Power Monkey Ring Thing can take a much higher “failure load” than 400lbs, but for your own safety you should not exceed their prescribed maximum weight.
Jari Dohmen has a B.A. in physiotherapy and has been involved with Calisthenics since 2013. Around the time Calisthenics began to proliferate in the Netherlands, he was already keenly interested in both the physiotherapeutic and general lifestyle benefits Calisthenics possesses. Jari started Calisthenics Worldwide (CWW) in 2016, after numerous internet searches for Calisthenics topics that sparked his interest yielded barely any information. Today, CWW is one of the largest and most widely recognized Calisthenics blogs in the world. Become part of the Calisthenics community by commenting on this article.