10 Things You Didn’t Know About Gymnastic Rings

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While I was visiting gymnastics centers in preparation for joining one, I took notice of a very simple piece of equipment; gymnastic rings.

At every gymnastic center I showed up at, there were these two rings dangling from the ceiling by straps.  This got me wondering how such a simple contraption could be so integral that they were at every gymnastic center I went to. After doing some research I found out exactly why. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about gymnastics rings: 

1. Gymnastic rings require the most strength in the Olympics’ gymnastics program. 

All gymnastic disciplines require strength and gymnastic rings are no different. Actually, the gymnastic rings portion of the Olympics gymnastic program requires the most strength. Out of vaulting, uneven bars, balance beams, floorwork, pommel horse, parallel and horizontal bars, still rings, trampolining and tumbling, still rings require the most. Still, rings are another name for gymnastic rings except when they are used, the gymnast must keep them still while they are performing their routine. Keeping rings still that are attached to the ceiling by straps makes it impossible without immense muscle power.  

2. Gymnastic rings are generally used by men 

Because of the need for a lot of upper body strength, gymnastic rings are traditionally only used by men. This is especially the case during Olympic competitions. With this in mind, slightly less strength is required in recent years because of an emphasis on more “swinging” moves instead of only stationary moves. This does allow some more people with less upper body strength to participate in competitions. It is entirely possible for girls to use gymnastic rings; it may just take more work since they often start off with less upper body muscle. They are still valuable to anyone outside of competitions. 

3. They can hold a lot of weight

It’s hard to imagine that such simple equipment could carry much weight, but they absolutely can. There is essentially no carrying compacity with regards to their typical use. Most gymnastic rings can support 500 lbs. with some being capable of supporting 1100 lbs. or more. Even the cheapest gymnastic rings can support most people with a load-bearing compacity of 300 lbs. 

4. They can be used for more than gymnastics.

It’s easy to associate gymnastic rings only with the Olympics and gymnasts, but it turns out they can and are used by all sorts of people who want to pack on some muscle. Exercise routines that utilize gymnastic rings are very efficient and effective. Because there is a large range of exercises that can be done on them and the intensity of workout they bring, gymnastic rings are the go-to workout for many people.  This may not be the ideal workout for someone just starting off, but it is worth working up to.  

5. Can be used at home

You don’t have to go to a gymnastics center to use gymnastic rings. You can purchase them yourself at many physical and online retail stores and install them yourself. If you decide to install gymnastic rings at home, make sure you have somewhere to hang them that is at least nine to twelve feet high. If you only plan to do easier “below the rings” exercises you can have them at the shorter side of the range. If you plan to do “above the rings” exercises you will want to have them towards the longer side of the height range. If you think you will really get into it and want to do full inversions, you may consider hanging the rings even higher.  Also, make sure you have about five feet of clear space side to side. As you can see, they don’t require very much space at all, and you could build yourself a frame outside or even just attach them to rafters in your garage. 

6. They have been used for a long time

Gymnastic rings are not a new thing. They were originally called Roman rings and have been in use for AT LEAST a thousand years. It’s very likely that they have been in use in some form for longer than that. They started gaining popularity in 1842 when gymnast began using “flying rings”, which were a triangular version of gymnastic rings. 

7. The rings are made of metal, plastic, or wood. 

There are three options when looking for the perfect gymnastic ring material for you. Metal is very durable and is what gymnastic rings were usually made from originally. Unfortunately, they do not give the traction needed to safely do some maneuvers. Plastic is also durable and provides traction. They are very light and are only used for strength training. Wood is generally recommended and is what is used in competitions.  They are durable when taken care of, are not to light, and provide needed traction. 

8. Options for all budgets

If you want to get started with gymnastic rings you do not need to break the bank because there are options for all budgets. You, of course, get more quality the more you spend, but you can purchase gymnastic rings as low as $20 USD.  Even if you decide to purchase competition-grade gymnastic rings, you can find them for as little as $70 USD. 

9. Durability

Unlike with Gymnastic bars, there isn’t much need to worry about your gymnastic rings falling apart no matter if you are at a gymnastic center or at home. Although it would be wise to pay attention to the condition of your gymnastic rings, most are made to last a lifetime or even generations. 

10. There is a maneuver for nearly every part of the body

Using gymnastic rings really are a full-body workout. Some beginner maneuvers include the muscle-up, ring push up and body rows. Muscle-ups strengthen your back, biceps, shoulders, and triceps. Ring push-ups strengthen your pectoral muscles, shoulders, and abdominals. Body rows strengthen your biceps, triceps, and back. Even just the support position requires a ton of arm and upper body strength. The instability of the rings makes working out with them much more difficult than using bars, and in turn, quickly increase the intensity of the workout.