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Calisthenics, aka bodyweight fitness, is all about the difficulty. Moving at your own pace and gradually upping the resistance by increasing the difficulty of each component of your workout to build strength, stamina and flexibility.
Maybe you’re like me, and you started with wall push-ups, then moved to knee push-ups, then to standard ones. Then you upped the resistance by doing diamond. Now you’re doing one-handed and handstand push-ups.
If you’re wondering where to go from there, not just with push-ups, but a whole-body routine, you need to consider gymnastic rings.
|Vulcan Elite 360 Wooden Gymnastic Rings||General||Vulcan Elite Gymnastic Rings on Amazon|
|Rogue Rings||Versatility||Rogue Rings on the Rogue Fitness website|
|Emerge Gymnastic Rings||Durability||Emerge Wooden Gymnastic Rings on Amazon|
Vulcan Elite Wooden Gymnastic Rings – The best general gymnastic rings
These rings are the best on average. They have high-quality coiled birch rings, heavy-duty straps and sturdy carabiner loops for quick mounting, all at a modest price.
Because of this, I’d recommend these rings for most people looking to step up their bodyweight routine. They’re easy to quickly set up on any horizontal bar.
- 32 layers of coiled birch for peak durability
- Carabiner setup for quick and painless setup and removal
- Evenly measured loops for a quick balance of setup
- Carabiner & loop system doesn’t have the same lifespan as cam buckles
Rogue Rings – The most versatile rings
Rogue rings are premium rings intended for cross-fitters, and while they boast all of the premium features you’d expect from good quality gymnastic rings, it’s their versatility and the range of accessories and customization options that make them stand out.
I recommend these rings if you’re looking for a very specific setup, like for a home gym or a more permanent workout fixture.
- Smooth, high-quality straps that won’t chafe during push-ups, dips and other exercises where your arms rub against the straps
- Comes with a built-in Velcro fastener to help you keep excess strap out of the way
- A broad variety of accessories, including colored straps, ring hangers that let you mount them on your door or ceiling, crash mats and others that can help you set up a comprehensive rings workout station
- All of this variety and versatility comes at a hefty premium
Emerge Wooden Gymnastic Rings – The most durable
Emerge pride themselves on making “the most secure” gymnastic rings for sale on the market. Their extra heavy-duty straps, double-loop buckles and solid wood rings make for an extraordinarily durable setup.
I would recommend you look at these if, like me, you’re worried typical rings will wear out faster due to your size, weight or the intensity of your intended workout.
- Their extra-wide (1.5″ as opposed to 1.25″) straps can support up to 800 lbs
- Double-loop cam buckles for an extra secure, long-lasting buckle
- They’re so sure their gymnastic rings are the best they offer a 100% money-back guarantee
- Their extra heavy-duty straps are extremely rough and may require that you add a rash guard if you’re going to do a lot of exercises where the straps rub against your skin
Guide to buying your gymnastic rings calisthenics setup
When it comes to gymnastic rings, there are several things to consider when buying the gymnastic rings themselves. I’ve already gone over them in another article, which you can find here.
Instead, I’ll discuss the other equipment that you should consider alongside them.
The first thing to consider is where you’re going to mount them. Ideally, you should have somewhere that’s reasonably high from which to hang your rings. The straps are usually 15-20′ long, and you can get versions up to 40′, so the distance from the ground shouldn’t be a huge issue. It is, however, something you need to consider when buying your gymnastic rings so you know what length straps to get.
If you’re just hanging them from a pull-up bar or something of similar height, then the shorter straps are more than enough, but if you’re going to hang them from rafters, or something more than 10′ off of the ground, then maybe consider longer straps.
Usually, you’ll want to hang them from an already mounted pull-up bar or another horizontal bar that can support much more than your weight. Remember, you’re not just hanging from them, you’ll be moving around, and the jostling of performing exercises while suspended on the rings will amplify the strain your bodyweight already applies.
You could consider something like the Rogue ring hanger or another similar piece of equipment. It’s unobtrusive and designed specifically to be mounted firmly to your ceiling, a beam/joist or other load-bearing horizontal surfaces.
Alternatively, if you’re starting out light and don’t really need to full-blown gymnastics yet, consider a door hanger. These let you feed some of the straps through the gap between the top of a door and the jamb, and it essentially pulls the door shut with your weight. This will allow you to do rows and ring push-ups. With this kind of set up the more difficult exercises, like l-sits and dips, will be impossible.
Once you’ve figured out where you’re going to mount your rings, consider setting up the area around it. I cannot recommend crash mats enough. While wood rings have excellent purchase and your hands will never really slip off of them, doing rings exercises requires an incredible amount of grip strength. When starting off, it’s possible that your grip might just give out, and you’ll fall to the ground. A simple foam mat of some kind, maybe an inch or so thick, is just enough to keep you from bruising your tailbone if that happens. Here’s a helpful guide to picking out gymnastic mats.
Lastly, a few other things you might want to look into. Simple quality of life items are things like false grip add-ons, rash guards, and some good old fashioned chalk.
False grip add-ons, simply called false grips, are pieces of plastic that you put along the part of the ring where you rest your weight. It widens and flattens the grip slightly to make it easier to get a false grip when you’re progressing to muscle-ups.
Rash guards are somethings sleeves you wear on your arms (like some bicyclists and runners use), but can also be sleeved you place over the straps themselves. These have a softer, smoother material that prevents the straps from irritating your skin when performing exercises where your arms rub up against the straps. This is mostly a problem during l-sits, dips, push-ups and handstands. Even the most supple of these straps are made of a nylon webbing, often cross-stitched for added strength and rigidity. This makes for an especially rough surface, and if you’re planning on doing any of those exercises, a rash guard will save you a lot of unnecessary irritation.
Lastly is chalk. Any powdered hand chalk will do. You can pick this stuff up at any store that sells weight lifting equipment. Heck, you can probably even find it at a bowling alley. The chalk adds a small amount of rough material to the surface of your skin, enhancing the purchase of your skin on another smooth material. This usually isn’t an issue with most wood rings, especially since many brands include a small square of sandpaper that you can use to roughen up the grip further if you like. However, if you like you can add a bit of chalk to your hands to further enhance your grip.
Whether you’re a beginner to calisthenics looking to make more of a commitment, or an advanced bodyweight fitness aficionado looking to take your workout to the next level, rings are right there with you with a variety of options for every level.
Best gymnastic rings for calisthenics – Frequently Asked Questions
What are good bodyweight/calisthenics exercises I can do on gymnastic rings?
That depends on where you’re at now. If you’re a beginner, mounting your rings over your door and doing push-ups and rows is a great place to start. Rings make it easier to maintain the proper form during rows. Since you can lower your body further than when pushing off of the ground, ring push-ups allow for greater engagement of the chest, shoulders, back and core.
If you’re more advanced, ring l-sits or v-sits, as well as handstands, handstand push-ups, dips and levers while on rings force you to also incorporate balance when maintaining form, further expanding the range of muscles engaged while doing those exercises.
Are gymnastic rings a good inclusion for my calisthenics routine?
Absolutely. In the same way that free weights are a step up from weight machines in terms of the overall strength-building benefits, gymnastic rings are a huge step up from typical calisthenics. By including the balancing aspect of performing various exercises on rings, you’re not just pulling and pushing off of a rigid, static surface. You’re holding yourself up in the air. Plus, you don’t just push or pull, but you have to hold your arms in place, keep your core engaged, and are generally required to have more control over your body.
How to pick the right gymnastic rings for your calisthenics – conclusions
When deciding on what kind of rings you need for your workout, always keep in mind where you are now, and where you want to be a year from now. If you’re just starting out, a simpler setup is where you want to begin, just the rings are a great place to start since you’ll probably only be doing 2 or so exercises with them.
If you’re plateauing and need to push yourself farther, a more comprehensive gymnastic rings setup will definitely take your routine to the next level.