Gymnastic rings are often underrated in calisthenics, yet they offer a wide variety of intense and highly useful workout options. For instance, push-ups are one of the most prominent exercises for chest and tricep development across the world. They can be done with your body weight, and they can be assisted by using a chair, bench, or gymnastic rings.
Training on gymnastic rings will increase instability. By doing this, it recruits more muscles to assist the body through the movement path. You will gain joint stability, increased proprioception, and motor control, and grow bigger chest and triceps. In fact, Krista Stryker, an NSCA-certified personal trainer says that gymnastic rings can help you transform your body.
Since there are different types of gymnastic rings you can use in your workouts, I recommend first checking out our ultimate guide for buying gymnastic rings article. This way, you can find out which ring type is ideal for you. Then, let’s have a look at eight push-up exercises on the gymnastic rings.
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Ring Gym Push-Ups
Exercise 1 – Ring Push-Ups
When floor push-ups get too easy, you can use rings to increase instability in your body which will recruit more muscle fibers. Further, you can adjust the height of rings to influence the level of difficulty. In general, the higher the rings on the hands, the easier the push-up.
A 2020 study, looked into the differences in muscle activation between sexes for push-ups and bench presses and found that push-ups may give greater training stress to women than men and provide an excellent starting point when initiating a resistance training program.
Begin with your hands turned out at the top position and descend until your elbows are at 90 degrees while keeping your hands and elbows close to your chest. Maintain constant engagement in your core and glutes for extra stability.
Exercise 2 – Weighted Ring Push-Ups
This is the standard ring push-up with added resistance. You can wear a weighted vest or a backpack with weights inside. It is great for developing muscle in the chest and tricep for superior pushing strength.
I like to use the Kensui Vest for my weighted calisthenics sessions, and you can find out more about this product in this Kensui Vest Review. Start with a light weight and gradually increase the load to avoid injuries. Only do weighted ring push-ups when you have mastered regular push-ups.
Keep constant tension throughout the movement, elbows tucked in close to your torso and body in a straight line. If your back arches, this means the weight is too high and indicates that you should lower the weight.
Exercise 3 – Ring Wide Push-Ups
By positioning your hands further apart (wider than shoulder-width), ring wide push-ups target your middle and upper chest and front shoulder muscles more than standard ring push-ups.
I recommend you to learn how to do this exercise correctly on the floor first in this wide push tutorial before progressing onto the ring variation to ensure the correct form and movement path.
As you descend, rotate your palms to face your feet while keeping tension in your core and glutes. Make sure your elbows aren’t moving past your shoulders (keep within the scapular plane) as this could cause injuries. Again, the difficulty of this exercise can be adjusted by the height of the rings.
Exercise 4 – Ring Flyes
Very similar to the ring-wide push-ups, the ring flyers will hit your upper chest like crazy, with the only main difference being that your arms should be as straight as possible. For some, this can be difficult to accomplish, therefore you will use a little assistance with this neat trick.
Put your hands through the straps and rest your forearms on the rings, then you step out into a push-up position. Descend while keeping your palms facing each other to a point where your arms are in line with each other. Squeeze your chest to return to the starting position.
Exercise 5 Ring Pike Push-Ups
This variation is used to develop shoulder strength for the handstand and handstand push-ups because your body will be in a pike position which loads the shoulders with more of your body weight.
Familiarise yourself by practicing on the floor first using this pike push-ups tutorial before jumping on to the ring variation. Further, the handstand is a complex skill that can take time to learn, find out the progressions to unlock this skill by checking out this complete handstand guide.
Again, you can change the height of the rings to adjust the difficulty, and the key to this variation is to go on your tiptoes to load up the shoulders while keeping your core active. As you descend, keep your elbows close to your torso and hands facing outwards from a neutral grip at 45 degrees.
Exercise 6 – Ring Archer Push-Ups
Ring archer push-ups are great for strengthening your stabilizing muscle groups. It’s extra tricky because you are using one arm to push up while keeping your trailing arm straight. I recommend you to learn how to do this on the floor first by checking out this archer push-up tutorial.
As you descend, you’d shift your body from the arm you’re straightening and lower until your trailing arm is straight. To ensure proper form, make sure your body is tight, steady, and hips squared.
Exercise 7 – RTO Push-Ups (Ring Turn Out Push-Ups)
The rings will be turned out (palms are facing forward) throughout the entire time. Honestly, these are harder than they look. Gymnasts use this to condition their straight arm strength such as the maltese and iron cross.
Keep your elbows close to your torso and palms facing forward at all times. Lower down until your elbows are at 90 degrees while engaging your glutes and core to ensure a straight line.
Exercise 8 – Ring Deficit Push-Ups
This is a deep ring push-up variation that will give your chest an extra range of motion as it requires higher degrees of muscle coordination, strength, and stability. Do this well and you’ll have an impressive chest pushing strength.
To do this movement, you’ll want to raise the rings a little higher and start in a regular ring push-up position. When you reach the bottom phase, go down as deep as you can while rotating your palms forward and press back up. Return to the starting position with your palms facing forward.
This variation alone will recruit almost every muscle in your body, including your chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, core, back, and legs.
The Takeaways: Ring Push-Ups On Gymnastic Rings
There you have it, eight ring push-up variations from beginners level to advanced level. Add these to your next push workout to grow your chest and triceps. If you like this article and are looking to improve your calisthenics workout, even more, go ahead and check out these guides:
- The Ultimate Guide To Bodyweight Rows
- The Perfect Five Minute Bodyweight Chest Workout
- Six Push Up Alternatives: Bodyweight Chest and Tricep Exercises
Also, don’t forget to comment down below your favorite ring push-up variation from this article and subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch more calisthenics tutorials like this one!
I’m Pat Chadwick, a qualified Level 2 and Level 3 calisthenics coach and athlete from London, England, with six years of experience. I’ve competed in various UK competitions, including the Kalos Stenos Championships, where I achieved third place in the lightweight category. My passion is highlighting the beauty of calisthenics as an authentic and pure form of body expression. I believe that everyone has the potential to become a champion of their body and mind, and that calisthenics opens the door to personal empowerment.