Looking at a gymnast one of the very first things you will noticed is their lean, absolutely shredded upper body physique.
They have arms developed like some of the top tier fitness athletes, a core like the ones you would see on Greek statues, and everything else that goes along with it.
Of course, gymnasts spend many hours a day not only on gymnastic rings, but also on many varying drills, as well as thousands of hours of work on different apparatuses.
What if we were however to take the gymnastic rings, and apply a purely bodybuilding/strength based approach to them with a gymnastic ring workout routine that would help you carve a physique like the one you would see on Brad Pitt in the movie Troy, or Daniel Craig in Casino Royale?
This guide will approach gymnastic rings exercises in a different way that what most people will be used to utilizing them for. We will see how they can be used as a powerful bodybuilding tool that can be used almost anywhere, at any time.
Follow the routine or add some of the gymnastic rings exercises to your own to boost your progress with ring training and put on pounds on muscle mass, as well as an impressive level of strength and bodyweight control.
This ring training program can be adapted and used whatever your current level of training is, whether you have just picked up a pair of gymnastic rings, or if you have already been training with them for several years. It will not teach you how to perform specific skills like the planche or front lever, but will help you drastically in achieving peak levels of strength that could get you closer to those goals, should you wish to pursue them.
If you’re ready to change your physique and obtain levels of strength like never before then read along and take notes, your journey to a new, better, and stronger version of yourself begins now with this easy to follow routine.
This ring workout is designed to give you the upper body workout and progression to have you coming back for more. And if you are anything like me your goal will be to get to ring muscle ups.
Let us first take note of the exercises included in the routine so that they can then be assembled as a complete routine. We will have an approximately balanced number of both pulling and pushing exercises.
This section will contain an appropriate representation of how each movement should be performed, as well as their progressions which you can move on to as you progress.
The exercises should be rendered more difficult by using the corresponding progressions listed under them.
If you would rather used tools like a weighted vest or dip belt instead of bodyweight progressions, the same progressive overload protocol is applied and can even be approached in a simpler manner. Just add a bit more weight week after week.
A lot of the exercises below are clearly explained thanks to the brilliant instructional videos made by Daniel Vadnal from FitnessFaqs.
Pulling For Ring Pull ups
Pull Up/Chin Up
Your foundation vertical pulling movement. This exercise will act as your first and main strength movement and should be done at the start of your workout.
It will work all of the essential back upper and mid back muscles, as well as your biceps and forearms.
- Level 1 – Pull up/chin up
- Level 2 – L-sit pull up/chin up
- Level 3 – Archer pull up/chin up
- Level 4 – L-sit archer pull up/chin up
Your foundation horizontal pulling movement. Paired with the pull ups/chin ups, this exercise will help you pack on muscle and strength in that upper and mid back area, in a very short amount of time.
Focus on clean form, rowing in a controlled manner and pausing briefly at the top to provide a maximum contraction.
- Level 1 – Standard ring row
- Level 2 – Archer row
- Level 3 – L-row
- Level 4 – Single arm row
The video above demonstrates an alternative version using a low placed bar in a smith machine instead of gymnastics rings.
The face pull is an important isolation movement that is often overlooked, even though it has so many benefits such has postural, aesthetic, and overall shoulder health improvement. This is why it’s included in this routine.
Pelican curl eccentrics count among some of the best bodyweight bicep isolation exercises you can do. The eccentrics should be done in as controlled of a manner as possible.
Due to the way the tension is applied to your bicep in it’s eccentric, lengthening portion of the exercise, you will be building strength throughout the entire movement’s range of motion, a great way of adding size to your biceps.
Ring Bicep Curl
Another fantastic bodyweight bicep isolation exercise, the bicep ring curl is the variant of your standard dumbbell/barbell curl. It’s intensity can easily be adjusted for any level by moving closer or further from the ring anchor point.
Remember that you should be flexing at the elbows and nothing else; no raising of the shoulders or “rowing” the rings with your larger and more powerful, back muscles.
Your foundation pushing movement. The dips will be your main chest development exercise. For positioning and information on how to perform the movement properly, watch the video below.
- Level 1 – Ring dip
- Level 2 – Bulgarian dip
Shoulder Push Up
Your shoulder mass and strengthening exercises. This will be your main strength pushing exercise and will therefore be placed towards the start of your routine.
The aim is to start with pike pushups, to eventually be doing handstand push ups against a wall or even freestanding handstand push ups if you want/have time to work on your hand balancing on the side (A 5 minute handstand and L-sit routine is included as part of the workout routine before the main strength exercises — it’s highly recommended that you do them but they can be skipped).
- Level 1 – Pike push up
- Level 2 – Elevated pike push up
- Level 3 – Handstand push up negatives against a wall
- Level 4 – Full handstand push ups against a wall or freestanding
Gymnastic Ring Push Ups
An overall fantastic exercise for chest development, the Gymnastic ring push ups is the first exercise in the list of progressions for this workout routine.
The gymnastic rings are a perfect transition point to add difficulty to the push up for the ones that can already easily do several sets of over 20 pushups.
The exercises that follow such as the archer push ups which is the immediate progression after the standard gymnastic rings push up, will allow you to build further strength, muscle mass, and give you that upper body chest pump like you have never witnessed before. If you don’t have gymnastic rings here are the best wooden gymnastic rings; best sellers.
- Level 1 – Standard push up
- Level 2 – Archer push up
- Level 3 – Feet elevated archer push up
The tricep dip is an effective bodyweight tricep isolation movement which can offer you results if used the right way.
The gymnastic rings will provide you with an extra element of instability, taking out the need to add weight to this movement which can be progressed on very quickly.
To make this exercise harder, just elevate your feet. This is one of best tricep workouts for size.
This exercise serves two purposes. First of all, it’s an excellent tricep isolation movement, guaranteed to help you pack on mass in the arms like never before. Secondly, it’s also useful as a prehab conditioning exercise for you elbows, as to reduce the chance of any potential elbow injuries in the future.
It also has a certain carry-over to various pushing exercises due to the extra strength you will be building in your triceps.
To adjust the level of intensity, simply lower the gymnastic rings closer to the ground to increase the amount of difficulty, and raise them for the inverse effect.
The Routine - Gymnastics rings workout routines pdf
I have made a PDF version of this post and gymnastic rings workout for you here so that you can download the routine and access it from anywhere.
You will find that the hardest “strength” exercises are done directly at the start of the routine when you are fresh, followed by several other hypertrophy orientated exercises. If you want to progress optimally, it would be best for you to also work on you L-sits and handstands for 5 to 10 minutes at the start of every workout.
This will allow you to later on progress to exercises like the freestanding handstand push up, as well as obtain a rock solid core and provide the maintenance of your shoulders and scapulae’s structural integrity — a very important aspect of training longevity.
Remember to warmup!
Before starting your first workout start with a good warm up generally consisting of three separate parts; body line drills and stretches, activation/band work, and a final exercise to get your body temperature rising, your heart rate accelerating, and your blood pumping faster.
The will prep you adequately for the rest of the workout to come and allow you to perform at your best.
Some days however will require longer warm up than others, especially in the winter, or moments where you may feel tight and/or fatigued.
Only you can know exactly how long you should be warming up, and even, if you should be doing other exercises to target a specific body part that needs more work due to an injury you may have sustained in the past, or an imbalance of some sort.
While this isn’t a full body workout you are bodyweight training which means that you are going to use a lot of your body to complete the
The bodyweight fitness community on Reddit features an excellent warm up that you can access by clicking here.
Progressing in the routine
When you feel comfortable enough in a given range, you should progressively add either more reps, or more sets, before eventually moving on to a more difficult progression. Here is an example of what that could look like:
- Week 1 – 3 sets of 4 reps
- Week 2 – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Week 3 – 4 sets of 4 reps
- Week 4 – 4 sets of 5 reps
- Week 5 – 5 sets of 5 reps
Depending on the rep range you are hitting on each exercise, you want to be sure than you are comfortable enough in the current progression before moving on to the next.
Which rings to use ?
If you don’t already own a pair, I have put together a buyer’s guide on the best gymnastics rings you can currently get for your money.
I have also made a guide on different places you can anchor rings, and how to anchor them at home if needed. I am a fan of wooden rings and you will find that most gyms have wooden rings so you really can’t go wrong if you start there and have a quick read through the guide above.
What About other Ring Workout and Ring Exercise variations
What is A ring Row and How to do it?
The ring row is a great rowing variation that can be performed with gymnastic rings, TRX straps, or any other type of suspension trainer. It is an excellent exercise for building pulling strength and developing muscular endurance in the back.
To perform ring rows, begin by adjusting the height of the rings (or straps) so that they are at a level where your feet can touch the ground when you are in the hanging position.
From here, grab hold of the rings and allow your body to hang in a straight line. From this position, pull yourself up until your chest touches the rings. Pause for a moment at the top of the movement, and then lower yourself back to the starting position.
What is are ring dips and How to do them?
Gymnastic ring dips are a great exercise for building tricep strength and developing muscular endurance in the arms.
It can be performed with gymnastic rings, TRX straps, or any other type of suspension trainer.To perform gymnastic ring dips, begin by adjusting the height of the rings (or straps) so that they are at a level where your feet can touch the ground when you are in the hanging position. From here, grab hold of the rings and allow your body to hang in a straight line.
From this position, lower yourself down until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Pause for a moment at the bottom of the movement, and then press yourself back up to the starting position.
Gymnastic Rings Workout - Conclusion
Well here it is. Your 15 week, highly effective Bodyweight Tribe gymnastic rings program. You can do it almost anywhere, as long as you have a pair of gymnastic rings. In this workout guide, you will have seen an individual breakdown of the exercises, a warm up and what structures a good warm up, the official routine with the given exercises, sets, reps, and progressions, and some key notes on how to keep progressing. If you have any comments, questions, or feedback, please leave a comment down below, I will be happy to answer!
Now you have the tools to change your body, will you apply them?