Gymnastic Rings Workout – 20 Exercises from Beginner to Expert

Gymnastic rings, also known as steady rings or still rings, is an artistic gymnastics apparatus and the event that uses it. It is traditionally used only by male gymnasts, due to its extreme upper body strength requirements.

But rings aren’t just for gymnasts and you shouldn’t be intimidated by the fancy and advanced movements performed in professional competitions.

There are more easy – simple ring movements for beginners, than those hard – complex ones for advanced gymnasts.

In this article we are going to cover both categories, starting from the easier exercises and proceed to the harder ones.

So, Rings are one of those pieces of equipment you can carry with you anywhere or set them up for your home workout. You can use them as an alternative for making Calisthenics skills like the Planche, Front Lever, Back Lever and even the basic ones like the push up and pull up, more challenging, due to the increased stability requirements.

The cool thing with the rings is that you can combine a lot of exercises, in order to create a routine flow and perform it all at once, without getting of the rings!

However, using Rings could cause hand calluses and discomfort. That is why gymnasts typically wear ring grips while performing on them.

Nevertheless, you should avoid using gloves. Instead put some chalk, it will help you have a better – more stable grip.

So, the first thing you need to learn regarding the gymnastic rings is how to hold them properly, aka the false grip.

With the false grip your wrist is in contact with the inside edge of the rings, providing you bigger range of motion and better form in most exercises.

Now that you know how to hold the rings it is time to start practising!

1. Support hold

The first exercise on your rings journey is the Support hold, which is nothing more than holding yourself up with straight arms.

It might be challenging if you have never used rings before, but it is a simple and achievable position. It is also the foundation for progressing into more complex ring movements.

Your elbows must be locked close to your hips and externally rotated when performing this move.

You should, also, keep your core tight and your legs squeezed together in order to form a straight line with your body.

Do 4 sets of 30 to 60 seconds holds.

2. inverted hang

The Inverted Hang is a great exercise for getting comfortable in the inverted position, working your grip strength as well as your overall alinement.

This is a really important progression for many Calisthenics skills like the Front Lever and Back Lever.

Do 4 sets of 30 to 60 seconds holds.

3. Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian Split squat is probably the best possible unilateral leg exercise.

It is a safe and accessible way to build lower-body strength and correct imbalances while also improving mobility and total-body stability.

This exercise targets your quads, hip flexors, and posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, and back).

In order to perform it you need to balance on one foot and put your rear foot in the ring. Then proceed on squatting with your front leg keeping your core straight throughout the whole movement.

Switch legs and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 20 to 25 reps.

4. RING ROLLOUT

The Ring rollout exercise works your abs, while strengthening your back and shoulders too.

To perform it, start by holding the rings on a pushup position. Then, proceed on extending your arms above your head, while keeping your body as straight as possible. Pull the ring back to return into the start position.

Remember to keep your core and glutes tight and your back hollowed. Don’t arch your back at any point during the movement.

SUPERMAN

The Superman is an advanced variation of the Ring rollout exercise.

In this variation you extend only one arm above your head, while bending the other one close to your chest.

Same principles as the Ring roll out apply.

Do 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps.

5. ring row

The Ring Row is one of the best, simple and most effective exercises you can do to build the pulling strength required for Calisthenics skills like the Front Lever and Back Lever.

In order to perform it, you need to set the rings around waist height (the lower – the more difficult the movement) and lie on the floor underneath them.

Then grasp them in a false grip and pull yourself up until your chest touches the rings. Come back down slowly in a controlled manner.

Don’t forget to keep your core tight, engaging your quads, glutes and abs, so that your body is in a straight line.

Do 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps.

6. ring pull up

The Ring pull up is an advanced variation of the normal pull up.

Start by grasping the rings in a false grip and lower to the bottom position of a pull up, by turning the ring out.

While pulling, turn the rings in and keep your body slightly hollowed by squeezing your glutes and feet together.

Pull as hight as you can, until the rings touch your chest. Upon the descend, slowly turn the rings out again, maintaining the false grip, until you lock yourself into the bottom position.

Make sure you don’t enter in an arch position when pulling and you don’t lose the false grip when descending.

Uneven ring Pull Up

Another great and more advanced variation for this exercise is the Uneven ring pull up.

For this one you need to set the ring to uneven heights and perform your pull up as if you were doing it with one arm and the other arm used for support.

Same principles as the Ring pull up apply.

Do 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps.

7. ring push up

The Ring push up is an advanced variation of the normal push up.

Start holding the rings in a push up position with a hollow chest, tight glutes and the rings turned out. Then descend to the bottom of the push up without losing your hollow position and tight form.

The rings are kept parallel throughout the move, but don’t forget to always turn them out at the top.

Keep your form solid throughout the hole movement. It is better to perform fewer – good form reps than many – bad form ones.

PELICAN CURL

Another great and more advanced variation for this exercise is the Pelican curl.

For this one you need to perform a deeper concentric move than usual and then use your biceps’ strength to com back.

Same principles as the Ring push up apply.

Do 4 sets of 15 to 20 reps.

8. ring dip


The Ring dip is an advanced variation of the normal dip.

Start in a Support Hold position with a hollow chest, tight glutes and the rings turned out. Then descend to the bottom of the dip without losing your hollow position and tight form.

The rings are kept parallel throughout the move, but don’t forget to always turn them out at the top.

Keep your form solid throughout the hole movement. It is better to perform fewer – good form reps than many – bad form ones.

BULGARIAN Ring DIP

Another great and more advanced variation for this exercise is the Bulgarian dip.

For this one you need to perform your dip with arms wider apart than usually, making the move more challenging, due to the increased stability requirements.

Same principles as the Ring dip apply.

Do 4 sets of 15 to 20 reps.

9. RING FLY

The Ring fly is a variation of the dumbbell chest fly. It is mainly used for working the chest muscles, but challenges your core and shoulders as well.

To perform it, start by holding the rings on a pushup position. Then, proceed on extending your arms until they are perpendicular to the body. Push the rings to return in the start position.

Remember to keep your core and glutes tight. Don’t arch your back at any point during the movement.

Do 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps.

10. L-SIT

The L-sit on the Rings is an advanced variation of the normal L-sit. It is a great exercise for building core strength and mobility.

Start in a Support Hold position with a hollow chest, tight glutes and elbows locked close to your hips and externally rotated.

Then lift your legs into the L-sit position keeping them squeezed together.

Your toes must be pointed and the rings close to your hips.

Do 4 sets of 30 to 60 seconds holds.

11. SKIN THE CAT 😺


The Skin The Cat exercise helps you build straight arm pulling strength as well as shoulder and overall mobility, required for Calisthenics skills like the Front Lever and Back Lever.

Start in a regular hanging position and pull yourself through the Lever Position to an Inverted Hang and move down backwards to a hanging position. 

Keep your shoulders and hips in line and use your back and core strength to pull your body.

Don’t to use your arms’ strength to pull yourself upYour arms must remain straight.

Do 4 sets of 5 to 10 reps.

12. MEET HOOK

The Meet hook is a complex exercise that works your grip strength, as well as your shoulders and general mobility.

Start by grasping the ring in a false grip with one hand, while keeping the same foot underneath in a straight line.

Then, pull from your shoulder and rotate while folding yourself into the compressing position.

Do 4 sets of 30 to 60 seconds holds.

13. FRONT ROLL

The Front roll is an advanced exercise which combines a lot of the moves presented in this article.

You start and finish in the support hold position.

You lean forward through dip to initiate the roll.

Keeping your body in tuck position, you pull and turn over simultaneously. As your shoulders rise, your lower body directs towards the ground.

Keep the rings as close to the hips as possible throughout the roll, so that your body stays close to your rotation point.

Do 4 sets of 5 to 10 reps.

14. SHOULDER STAND

The Shoulder stand is an advanced exercise used to develop pressing and core strength required for Calisthenics skills like the planche and handstand.

To perform it, begin in a support hold position. Then bend your body at the hips at a 90 degree angle and simultaneously bend elbows so that the shoulders dip forward and down.

Once your upside down, slowly straighten out the hip angle until your body is straight.

Keep the rings as close to the chest as possible and your core engaged throughout the whole movement.

Wrap your legs around straps for extra support

HANDSTAND

The next and more advanced progression for this exercise is the Handstand on rings.

It is a lot more challenging than the handstand on the floor due to the increased range of motion and stability requirements.

Same principles as the shoulder stand apply.

Do 4 sets of 30 to 60 seconds holds.

15. ring muscle up

The Muscle up is one of the fundamental strength exercises in Calisthenics. It is an advanced and technical move, so a certain level of strength and skill is required in order to accomplish it.

A Muscle up is, actually, a ring chin-up that transitions into a dip. So, by exercising it you train push and pull movements at the same time.

In order to perform it grasp the rings in a false grip and pull yourself up until the rings touch your chest. Then, holding your elbows as close to your body as possible, proceed on transitioning your body over the rings.

Finish up with the eccentric part of a dip, to end up in the Support Hold.

Do 4 sets of 5 to 10 reps.

16. ONE ARM CHIN UP (OAC)

The One Arm Chin Up (OAC) is one of the best exercises for developing pure pulling strength.

Compared to the regular chin up, one arm chin up is slightly different in execution. It requires more balance and will put more stress on the tendons. 

For most people, the beginning position tends to be the hardest part, as it requires an immense amount of strength in the shoulders, biceps and lats.

To perform it, grasp the ring in a false grip with your shoulder straight and locked. Then, pull yourself up, rotating the ring inwards, until your chin touches the rink.

Slowly descent to a dead hang.

Switch arms and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 5 to 10 reps.

17. FRONT LEVER

calisthenics front lever

The Front Lever is one of the three lever exercises in Calisthenics (alongside with the Back Lever and the Planche).

It is performed by lowering from an inverted hang, with straight arms, until the body is completely horizontal, facing upwards.

Advanced athletes may also pull directly into the horizontal position from a dead hang

Levers require a high degree of back and core strength. Their isometric nature, helps your tendons get stronger too.

Do 4 sets of 30 to 60 seconds holds.

18. BACK LEVER

calisthenics back lever

The Back Lever is one of the three lever exercises in Calisthenics (alongside with the Front Lever and the Planche).

It is performed by lowering from an inverted hang, with straight arms, until the body is completely horizontal, facing the ground.

Levers require a high degree of back and core strength. Their isometric nature, helps your tendons get stronger too.

Do 4 sets of 30 to 60 seconds holds.

19. IRON CROSS

calisthenics

The Iron cross is the holy grail of the ring exercises and probably the most recognisable.

It’s an impressive move to witness and requires a superb amount of control and strength.

To perform the iron cross, begin in the support hold position and roll your shoulders forward as you slowly lower your body to the cross position. 

Whilst lowering the body pull down on the rings in order to produce greater tension and control the descent. 

Stop the movement when you reach the position where arms are almost perpendicular to the body.

Keep your core and glutes engaged throughout the whole movement, as well as your wrists and arms straight.

Rolling your shoulders forward is really important, as it restricts the shoulder range of motion and provides additional support during the exercise.

Do 4 sets of 10 to 15 seconds holds.

20. PLANCHE

The Planche is one of the hardest Calisthenics skills, in which the body is held parallel to the ground, while being supported above the floor by straight arms.

It takes longer to achieve than other skills such as the front leverback lever or human flag, mainly because your body needs to build enough connective tissue to hold this position.

Now imagine trying this on the rings… The level of difficulty goes over the roof, mainly due to the increased range of motion and stability requirements.

Do as you pleased...

conclusion

Rings are a great tool for implementing some simple or more complex bodyweight movements into your workout routine.

They can be a great beginner tool to reduce load, or a tool to add progression for more advanced athletes through increased range of motion and instability.

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