How to Get Started Training With Rings


If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never thought about, let alone tried training with gymnastic rings.

But you should! Rings are not as intimidating as they look, and training with them not only makes you feel like a badass, it’s actually a lot of fun.

You’ve probably seen on TV (or perhaps at a Cirque de Soleil show) these awesome, insanely ripped and strong Olympic and other athletes doing all kinds of crazy things on rings (your next chance to see this comes soon, because the Rio Olympics are kicking off in August!). But if it has never even crossed your mind to try gymnastic rings out for yourself, I’d like to convince you that you should.

Why You’ve Never Thought About Giving Rings a Try

There a few reasons why you’ve probably never tried working out with rings. Let me guess…

Rings Can Be Intimidating

Seeing the tricks gymnastics, acrobats, and other high level athletes do is super cool, but at the same time may be the exact reason why you haven’t given ring training a try. You may feel that since you’re probably light years away from being able to do any of these tricks, there’s no point in even trying.

And unless you started ring training at a very young age or dedicate years of your life to it, you’ll likely never get to the level of Olympic athletes. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still learn to do amazing things on this fun piece of equipment.

I used to feel the same way and at first, was incredibly intimidated by rings. But you just can’t think of it that way. I know many people (including myself) who thought they’d never be able to do a pull up, but can now do several. Rings are no different—you just have to be patient and train hard.

Rings Are Not That Accessible

Unless you’re working out at a CrossFit gym or one of those fun circus centers, you very likely don’t have access to rings. The closest thing to rings at a regular gym is TRX suspension trainer, but that’s not exactly same thing.

Though the TRX is definitely a cool workout tool and there are some exercises that you can do with rings as well as with a TRX, there are plenty of exercises that can only be done with rings—and there are really no substitutions to that.

One more thing: isn’t it weird that most kids playground have rings, but most gyms don’t? There’s no question that if more gyms had them, more adults would give them a try too!

You Can’t See the Benefits of It

If your goal is hypertrophy, you probably reach for a barbell or a set of heavy dumbbells in your training. Because lifting heavy stuff is the only way to get bigger muscles, right?

Wrong! Don’t underestimate ring training in terms of muscle growth. Rings are an amazing tool to help build a super lean and ripped upper body. And not only will ring training help grow muscle, the strength you gain is also much more functional. 

So think outside of the box and take on training with rings if you really want to gain muscle definition and strength in your upper body.

Why Ring Training Is Awesome

There are so many awesome reasons to try training with rings. We’ve already talked about upper body strength and muscle growth, but here are a few more reasons to get started:

Training with rings…

Helps You to Build Coordination and Stability

The main thing you’ll notice when training with rings vs. usual bodyweight training or weight training is that when you’re training with gymnastic rings, everything feels so unstable.

Because it is!

For example, instead of a steady and sturdy pull up bar, you’re doing your pull ups on something that is constantly moving. You need to train your coordination and constantly try to stabilize your entire body.

Teaches You to Use Your Body in a Whole Different Way

When you start training with rings, you may find you start to use muscles in your body you weren’t even aware existed. This is mainly because you’re constantly having to try to keep yourself balanced and resist the movement of the rings.

With rings, you learn to use your body very differently from anything else you’ve done before.

Helps You to Add Intensity to Your Bodyweight Workouts

There are many bodyweight exercises that you can do on rings to make them even more challenging.

Let’s take L-sits, for example. Instead of steady parallettes, you now have rings, so you have to work way, way harder to lift the legs up and hold them there. With rings, you can also take your reverse rows, push ups, triceps dips, and and pull ups to the next level.

And if you’re a super badass and can do muscle ups or levers on regular pull up bars, doing them on rings is a whole different story.

Teaches You A Bunch Of Awesome Exercises You’ve Never Done Before

There are so many exercises that you can do on rings, most of which you’ve probably never done before. Think tuck to tuck shoulder stands, L-sit to handstands, or planches… all seriously badass exercises (and my future goals)!

But again, don’t be intimidated! These are definitely higher lever exercises, and they don’t have to be your goals (but they can be!). So please don’t think that since you can’t do these, you better not try rings at all.

How to Get Started Training With Rings

If you’ve never worked with rings before, figuring out the grip, getting used to being unbalanced and most of the time, feeling that you’re totally out of control can all be very frustrating at first.

There’s no doubt that mastering most ring exercises take a lot or practice and patience. But there are always variations and progressions that you can do.

Nobody was born doing this stuff, so the best way to get started is to…

Get started!

I didn’t grow up training as a gymnast, and am far from an expert on rings, although I do love training with them and am slowly building strength and working up to new skills. Luckily, I know some actual experts: my friends at GMB Fitness.

GMB Fitness RingsIf you’re new to bodyweight training and haven’t heard of them before, I assure you that they are not only crazy good at rings and other gymnastics skills, they’re also really cool people.

That’s why if you want to get started with ring training, I highly recommend trying their Gymnastic Rings Basic Training Program. It’s absolutely the best program I’ve ever seen to build solid strength and control on the rings.

Here are some of my favorite things about GMB’s Rings Basic Training Program:

  • It’s accessible to both total beginners and slightly more intermediate athletes.
  • It will help you build the necessary foundation to be able to do super cool exercises like ring muscle ups, handstand push ups, and more.
  • It has over 70 videos to walk you through each step and progression.
  • It will make your shoulders, arms, chest, and upper body super strong.
  • It will make you a badass.

Make sure to go here to check out the GMB Rings Basic Training program. And happy training!

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7 thoughts on “How to Get Started Training With Rings”

  1. Krista,

    Great post. I’ve never really tried rings, because like you said, they are pretty intimidating and very difficult to find in certain areas. Would you say that thr rings are much more beneficial to your workout than parallel bars?

    • They’re really just different, Stephen. I love parallel bars too but the one big added benefit to training with rings is the instability factor. If you’re used to training with parallel bars you should definitely give rings a try 🙂

  2. I’ve been a fan of 12 minute athlete, GMB and rings for a while, so it’s great to see them all coming together in your post! Good rings aren’t very expensive. I hang them from my doorway pull up bar. I can’t do all exercises this way, since the rings aren’t high, but I can do quite a few. I can also hang them from rafters in my basement or garage, or from a tree, or from bars in the park. So don’t worry if you don’t see any around. They’re very portable, too!


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