If you want to add some training equipment to your home gym or take your workout with you when hitting the road, gymnastics is a great pick. It’s cheap, easy to set up, and easy to use. Also, it provides many workouts and advantages.
Unlike weightlifting, bodyweight exercises can be done with minimal equipment and a pair of gymnastic rings will do just the trick. You’d simply loop these rings on a solid tree branch or sturdy rafters. I’ll take you step-by-step through finding the ideal type of gymnastic rings, the right manufacturers, as well as how to set them up.
Why You Should be Training With Gymnastic Rings?
Upperbody and Lower Body Strength Gains
Gymnastic rings will support pulling movements for training your back, biceps, and forearms. Pushing movement patterns are crucial for training the chest triceps, shoulders, and lower body movements such as the assisted pistol squats targeting the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends doing 1-3 sets per exercise of 8-repetitions with 70-80% of one-rep max (1RM) to maximize muscle hypertrophy.
A pair of gymnastic rings can be easily fitted into a small bag which makes them an ideal travel companion for those who want to work out while traveling. They are cheap (approximately $30-60 USD). and takes 2-3 minutes to set up. Men’s Health points out that gymnastic rings are highly versatile, which makes them a great addition to the suitcase.
The entire repertoire of movements you perform on gymnastic rings is all compound movements that recruit many muscle groups at once to work in accord with each other. You may notice that your body will shake more as opposed to a fixed position on a pull-up bar. This activates more muscle stabilizers and enhances movement quality.
Gymnastic Rings Material (Wood vs Plastic vs Metal)
There are three main materials you can choose when it comes to finding the right gymnastic rings. The three options are:
- Wood (birch plywood)
- Plastic (ABS plastic)
- Metal (steel)
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I’m a big fan of wooden gymnastic rings. It would be my go-to choice as it gives a superior grip in comparison to plastic and metal rings. If you have clammy hands, wooden rings will absorb the moisture very well and give you extra grip. But, this will cause greater skin damage (i.e. callouses) as it creates more friction on the skin.
Wooden rings are not as durable as metal and plastic, but if you take good care of them by packing them up after use then they will last a very long time. Just don’t leave them outside overnight.
Plastic rings are weatherproof and they will last longer than wooden rings as you can leave them outside exposed to humidity and rain. For instance, if you’re like me, you’d leave your rings hanging in your backyard overnight. In the long run, this will be superior to steel as the material would corrode and wood would delaminate if exposed to moisture.
Plastic rings are much lighter than steel rings and a little lighter than wooden rings. If lightweight packaging is important to you, then plastic gymnastics are the one. However, if you get sweaty hands while working out, you may lose grip quicker than you would on wooden rings. A great counter to this is to use liquid chalk.
Metal rings are a lot heavier than wood and plastic. It is durable and is the most expensive option. The texture feels nice on the skin, however, they can be slippery if you have sweaty hands. I find that some people find them either too slippery or too rough on the skin. Metal rings are not great to carry around and, if you’re in a cold climate area, training with them may not be as enjoyable.
How Thick Should My Gymnastic Rings Be?
There are two thicknesses you can choose. The 1.1-inch (28mm) version is used in the gymnastic programs in the Olympic games and the 1.25-inch (32mm) version is used in CrossFit. Each variation has its own.
The 1.1-inch thickness is great for pulling movements such as pull-ups and chin-ups because the grip is smaller which recruits fewer muscle fibers to hold a grip. This is also ideal for women and children who have smaller hands.
The 1.25-inch grip is ideal for pushing movements such as dips and push-ups as your weight is spread more equally on the wider region of the hands. Hence why most dip bars are thicker than pull-up bars. The only bad side to this is that it may not be ideal for those with small hands.
As you can see each thickness has its advantages and disadvantages and it can be hard to choose the best pair of rings for you. One solution for this is to have gymnastic rings that offer two thicknesses in one.
The Kensui Neo Rings give you access to both thicknesses in one. Half of the circumference is 1.1 inches and the other is 1.25 inches. You can easily switch between the two!
How Wide Should My Gymnastic Rings Straps Be?
The next feature to consider is strap width. There are two primary sizes for straps, the narrow strap is 1 inch (25mm) wide, and the wide strap is 1.5 inches (38mm). Having tested many gymnastic rings, I find that the wider strap version is better because they’re thicker and tend to be made out of better quality, making them more durable.
The second advantage is that wide straps are thicker and don’t cut into your skin when doing muscle-ups, pull-ups, and dips, especially if you’re a beginner to ring training as there would be a lot of shaking in your arms in any movements with gymnastic rings.
What Is The Best Cam Buckle For Gymnastic Rings?
In the matter of cam buckles, the best option is to go for the heavy-duty black-powdered coated version as it’s higher quality. The non-coated cam buckle is cheaper and is more likely to break faster, and it is also more prone to break in colder temperatures.
The Final Points: Gymnastic Rings Comparison
Here is a quick pricing and summary table of three different versions of gymnastic rings. I prefer wooden rings because they give a superior grip as my hands are clammy in general. The texture feels nice on the skin and I like the idea of using wood over cheap plastic and heavy steel.
To conclude, an optimal pair of gymnastics rings depends on your needs. Gymnastic rings are a piece of equipment that I use regularly and my favorite specifications are the wooden 1.25-inch, black-powdered coated with wide straps.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, I recommend you to check out the other product review that I’ve written:
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.