If you like it, then you should put a ring on it…a gymnastic ring!
OK, sorry for that terrible punny intro. I just felt like it was necessary. Sue me later.
In any case, gymnastic rings are actually some of our favorite pieces of exercise equipment here at Athletic Muscle. Why? Because they’re bad-ass, that’s why! They offer a ton of promise and make your workouts that much better.
Best Gymnastic Rings
- Rogue Gymnastic Wood Rings
- Emerge Wooden Olympic Gymnastics Rings
- Nayoya Gymnastic Rings
- Titan Fitness 8″ Diameter Wood Gymnastics Rings
- Elite Gymnastic Rings
In this article, we’ll be going over all things rings, including what gymnastic rings are, wood versus plastic, the benefits of using gymnastic rings, what to consider before buying your own set, and a sample ring workout for those just starting out.
Plus, we’ll give you the down-low info on the top gymnastic rings on the market that you can implement into your workout routine.
All my single ladies (and gents)…let’s talk about some rings!
What Are Gymnastic Rings?
They’re those contraptions hanging from the big red jungle gym thing in the middle of your gym…
Truthfully, gymnastic rings are wonderful little doohickies. Made from two straps and either wooden or plastic rings (more on that later), they are used for various exercises, as well as a pivotal tool for any serious gymnast.
The rings are a piece of workout equipment that’s not for the faint of heart. They can rock you to your core and leave your ass sore.
However, if you get really chummy with gymnastic rings, you can be assured that you’ll be looking fantastic in the physique department.
Fun fact: They are also known as “steady rings” or “still rings.” Traditionally, male gymnasts use the rings due to its “extreme upper body requirements.”
There are standard dimensions for gymnastic rings, with the inner diameter being roughly seven inches, distance from point of attachment to lower inner sides of the rings at 9.8 feet, and distance between the two points of attachment at 1.6 feet.
These diameters segue us perfectly into how you set up your gymnastics rings…
Setting Up Rings (Hanging and Mounting)
First thing’s first: You want to have a sturdy bar to connect your rings to. A solid pull-up bar, a monkey bar in the park, or one at your gym should suffice.
Obviously, with almost ten feet being the standard for how far your rings dangle in the air, you’ll want to find someplace that’s pretty high up. If you can’t and only have low options, that’s okay too–you’ll still be able to do exercises.
Next, when you loop your rings around the horizontal bar, make sure you wrap it twice. This will ensure your rings don’t slip and move side to side. Do this by simply throwing the buckle over two times.
Make sure the straps aren’t twisted.
Feed the straps through the buckles to secure the rings (make sure you loop the straps through the rings first before attaching it to the buckle).
Once you have both of them attached and set, slide the strap through the buckle so that they are level with each other.
You can also mount your rings by securing them to something sturdy up top, such as a bracket in your garage or something equivalent.
Wood Rings vs. Plastic Rings
There are actually three options for you to choose from: wood, plastic, or metal.
However, metal rubs against your hands and aren’t normally considered when choosing to buy rings of your own. Which ever rings you decide to get, investing in a pair of hand grips will help protect your hands and keep you training.
In many camps, wooden rings are by far the best choice.
This is because of one particular aspect: grip. With a wooden grip, you can handle the rings easily and the feel and texture are far superior compared to a metal or plastic ring.
This is especially prevalent when you consider using plastic rings. Even if you chalk up your hands really well, you’ll begin to slip as you’re pumping out reps.
This turns out to be problematic when you’re doing advanced movements like the muscle-up.
Also, a surprising factor is that wooden rings might help you avoid calluses or blisters, whereas plastic ones may prove to be painful.
On top of all of this, Olympic gymnasts use wooden rings, not plastic or metal. That alone should be enough to show you that wooden gymnastic rings are the way to go.
However, there is a caveat to wooden ones. If you use them outside, you will have to deal with the lack of durability.
Wood can go rotten, which will add to the wear and tear of your rings. So long as you’re comfortable with purchasing new rings every once in a while, we still recommend wooden rings. (They’re fairly cost-effective.)
Plastic or poly-carbonate rings have their place still. Where the wooden one falls short–durability–the plastic ones shine brightly.
Plus, if you use chalk and buy textured plastic rings, your grip may be saved. This is an even more cost-effective option, too.
Again, as for metal, they’re highly durable and they have a reassuring feel because of their weight, but they’re expensive, they have a worse grip than wooden rings, and they can get cold and clang around. It isn’t worth it.
In summary: Wooden > Plastic > Metal.
Benefits of Gymnastic Rings
You wouldn’t get something that didn’t offer you tremendous upside, would you? Of course not.
Here are some of the many reasons why having gymnastic rings in your training arsenal is a very good idea:
- Fantastic for functional training: The biggest advantage of gymnastic rings is the amount of functional application it brings to your fitness table. All exercises that you can do with these rings are compound movements, which, if you use progressive overload, can result in strength and muscle gain. Not to mention, you have to stabilize your body more than if you did these exercises sans gymnastic rings, which leads to the strength and control of a gymnast. Speaking of which…
- Helps you build the defined physique of a gymnast: Want to look like a hardened gymnast? Train like one. All gymnast athletes have these tight, compact, strong bodies that can accomplish impressive feats. If you want to achieve the same thing, or just look really damn good, include gymnastic rings into your training routine.
- Promotes a high strength-to-size ratio: You can develop solid strength with traditional weightlifting or bodybuilding training. However, with gymnastic ring training, you get to be the master of your own bodyweight. You will get insanely strong relative to your size, which creates an approach that isn’t necessarily one-size-fits-all. You can focus on how far you’ve come in the prism of your own bodyweight and physical abilities.
- Highly effective at abdominal work: As we mentioned before, gymnastic rings involve a ton of stabilization. Stabilization = crazy amounts of core effort. Your abs will become incredibly taut and chiseled. On top of that, your body will want to reduce its size to adapt to this style of training. This should translate to a reduction in body fat, meaning you’ll be able to see your newly acquired six-pack.
- Additional time under tension: The entire time you’re working out while using the gymnastic rings, you’re under tension. Simply keeping yourself up mid-air is tension. The extra time under tension will help your body fatigue quicker, meaning faster workouts and harder adaptations from session to session. In short, you get more results in less time.
- They’re fun: Let’s be honest: We still have a childlike mentality, curiosity and playfulness abound. Gymnastic rings invoke a what-if template, allowing you to do tough, weird, new exercises that can challenge both your brain and your body. It takes regular movements and adds an element of fun to it. Plus, there’s more variance in the movements you can do, which leads to even more fun!
- Increased safety and injury prevention: Weirdly enough, using gymnastic rings properly will help you steer clear from getting injured and keeping you in training mode for longer. Plus, your joints will thank you; the rings eliminate the instability factor associated with dip bars or pull-up bars. The versatility that stems from being able to move the gymnastic rings closer or farther apart is what allows for you to be safe while you’re training.
On top of all of these benefits, they cost less than a gym membership and you can scale your workouts, from beginner to advanced.
This ability to progressively overload is huge and one of Athletic Muscle’s main tenants; only through continuous growth and advancement can your physique turn into something truly miraculous.
Considerations Before Buying
Slow your roll! I know with all of those benefits, you’re probably itching to get your hands on a pair of gymnastic rings.
And while that’s fine and dandy, you’ll want to know what you’re looking for when you go shopping.
Here are some of the things you’ll want to consider before purchasing your gymnastic rings:
Strap length and weight rating: This will rely on where you plan on setting up your rings, as well as your own bodyweight. Strap length should be adjustable, but if not, you’ll want it to be long enough as opposed to too short. You can always shorten a longer strap by wrapping it around where you’re securing it.
As for weight rating, make sure you add 80+ pounds onto your own bodyweight as a comfortable starting point. (For example, a 180-pound male will want a weight rating of 260+; this will accommodate adding weight to your body via a weight belt…or the unfortunate event in which you gain 80 pounds, which we don’t want.)
The buckle system: There are a few types of buckle systems, but the most common one is an adjustable cam buckle. These are simple to work with and can make sure your two rings are parallel with each other.
Others are held steady by caribiners or “strap systems.” Some people prefer this kind of strap. The best way for you to find out which one works best for your purposes is to test them out! Go to a sportswear store in your area and play around with both buckles systems and strap systems. You’ll end up with a preference.
The ring: Of course, we’ve discussed the pros and cons of wooden, plastic, and metal rings. You may already have a good idea as to which one is up your alley. But, again, this might be something you need to go and experience firsthand. Test the feel, grip, and sturdiness of the different kinds of rings. Then you’ll know for sure.
Gymnastic Ring Workout for Beginners
An Athletic Muscle article on equipment wouldn’t be complete without a tough, why-did-I-do-this workout!
This one is centered around gymnastic rings, of course; it may surprise you to find that you can train all of your muscle groups with this simple piece. This workout is a full body training session, and each exercise utilizes the rings.
- Ring pull-ups: 3 sets x 8-12 reps (neutral grip or alternating; progress to weighted)
- Ring dips: 3 sets x 8-12 reps (progress to weighted)
- Ring front lever pulls or bodyweight rows or one-arm rows: 2 sets x 12-20 reps
- Ring flyes: 2 sets x 12-20 reps
- Ring handstands: 2 sets x 20-60 seconds
- Ring inverted knee tucks: 2 sets x 10-15 reps
- Ring L-sits: 2 sets x failure (15-30 seconds)
Some of these are really hard movement variations, while others you will progress on easily.
For the ring pull-ups, you might have a neutral grip, which would emulate more of a chin-up than a pull-up, or you can naturally move your hand position in and out–this is the beauty of the rings. Progress by adding reps and then weight via a weight belt.
For dips, same thing. Hand position can swivel, and you’ll eventually add weight.
For the third exercise, you can progress by switching the exercise: Go from bodyweight rows (feet on the floor, body under the rings) to one-arm rows to front lever pulls.
This is your secondary pull movement.
For flyes, you can progress by lowering the ring height towards the floor a few inches per workout. This is your secondary push movement, so you don’t have to progress as hard.
Ring handstands are simply fun, and a great way to fatigue those shoulders in a safe way. Instead of doing wall handstands, you’ll be suspended in air, with only the gymnastic rings holding you up.
Defy gravity–and maybe death–and look like a bad-ass, all while getting a great shoulder workout!
The last two exercises are core related. At this point in the workout, your core should be pretty shot, so you don’t have to go hard.
For the knee tucks, put your feet into the rings, get into a plank position with your hands directly below your shoulders. Then, tuck your knees into your torso, crunching by tucking your tail bone in. Trust us, you’ll feel it.
For L-sits, hold yourself up via the rings and go for as long as you can.
Don’t feel discouraged if you can only eke out a few seconds…you should be burning at the end.
Tell us how you do with this workout!
If you continue to progress in resistance and volume, you will develop an amazing gymnast physique.
Top Gymnastic Rings Reviewed
First up on our list of high-quality gymnastic rings are the Rogue Gymnastic Wood Rings. The epitome of excellence in the gymnastics industry, Rogue always provides you with amazing equipment.
The straps are made of heavy-duty nylon, while the cam buckles allow for easy set-up and adjustment, no matter where you’re at.
Plus, they include Velcro straps so that the excess strap stays securely out of the way while you’re working out.
The all-natural wood rings give you the best grip in the business; made of quality Birch, these rings provide a textured, grip-friendly surface that you can handle without chalk.
With an incredibly natural feel and American craftsmanship, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a pair of rings with better durability and comfort than the Rogue Gymnastic Wood Rings.
These Emerge Wooden Olympic Gymnastics Rings are the ideal addition to your home gym. With all the security and durability one would expect from a pair of rings, your new physique will deeply appreciate this acquisition.
The straps have military-grade webbing, which can hold up to 800 pounds of athlete! Plus, they have a Dual-Safe buckle that ensures zero slippage while you’re training.
The 28mm professional rings are wooden and smooth, which means fantastic grip.
On top of all of this, it’s an inexpensive alternative to the cream of the crop, a.k.a. the Rogue rings we reviewed above.
If you want high quality, exceptional wooden rings at almost half the cost as Olympic-grade rings, the Emerge Wooden Olympic Gymnastics Rings are right for you.
Next up on our list is a set of plastic gymnastic rings from Nayoya Wellness.
These are the first plastic rings on our list, and there’s a reason for that. Multiple reasons, actually.
The rings are made of textured, grippy PC plastic; this should reduce slippage from sweaty workouts. It’s also stronger and more durable than other ABS plastic rings.
Not only that, but these rings are so durable, it can withstand up to 2000 pounds. (Ergo, you’re in safe hands.) Complete with a cam buckle system and sturdy straps, you can do all of the exercises you would do with wooden gymnastic rings, at a fraction of the cost.
Go with the Nayoya Wellness Gymnastic Rings if you want a set of high-quality plastic rings that can get you places in your fitness journey.
A mainstay in the fitness industry, TITAN FITNESS comes swinging with their 8-inch diameter wooden gymnastic rings. They are top of the line and won’t break the bank, which is perfect for athletes on a budget.
The heavy-duty solid wood rings are thicker and wider for a more comfortable grip.
This set comes with cam buckle straps, which can be hooked up in seconds, meaning you can workout on the go and in a pinch. T
he strap length is 15 feet, while the capacity sits at a whopping 600 pounds; plenty of capacity to hold up most athletes. All in all, these rings will get the job done and you couldn’t even tell the difference.
If safety, price, and comfort are your top priorities when considering gymnastic rings, look no further than the TITAN FITNESS 8” Diameter Wood Gymnastics Rings.
To close out our list, we have another plastic ring, this time by Elite Sportz Equipment. These rings are solid and ideal for those who don’t want to spend a ton and get a lot back in return.
For one thing, their rings are textured for a non-slip grip, and they are wonderful for outdoor training because of the durable plastic.
The durable buckles and non-slip straps ensure a quality workout throughout. Plus, you get access to a couple extra bells and whistles, including instructional how-to video training and a bonus skipping rope. You get all of this for peanuts when considered on a long-term training basis.
A terrific choice for those who want to save money and still get a great workout, Elite Gymnastic Rings are your ticket to next-level fitness.
Now you know everything you’ve ever needed to know about gymnastic rings (and then some).
These rings are the cream of the crop, so do your due research and pick out a pair that suits you well. Reread the considerations before buying section to make sure you’re getting the best equipment for a solid price.
Then, go out, securely fasten those rings, and try out our gymnastic ring workout! Tell us how you feel after (you’ll probably be sorry you ever tried it).
Now put your hands up…and grab those gymnastic rings!