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THESE 4 BASIC GYM RING EXERCISES WILL HELP IDENTIFY AND ELIMINATE YOUR WEAK LINKS Shawn Mozen Today’s world is very fast paced. At least it seems that way for the majority of people involved with high-stress office work or other sedentary occupations, such as driving, computer programming, engineering, etc. However, most of that pace occurs inside the head while sitting behind the desk, driving (which means sitting again) and, once back home, in front of the computer and/or TV (sitting yet again). With their origins dating back nearly 2,000 years, Gym Rings are far from a new fitness fad. These time-tested training tools have seen an incredible burst in popularity over the last few years. Originally called Roman Rings, this staple of male gymnastics is one of the single most effective conditioning tools that anyone can add to their training. What’s so great about ring training? I’m glad you asked. Simply put, Rings hunt down and annihilate weakness. They offer 360 degrees of freedom and challenge you to stabilize your body while you fight the forces of gravity. In that kind of environment, you can’t hide your weak links. HOW GYM RING EXERCISES FORCE YOU OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE Hiding weak links is something that we all love to do. Even the most diligent multi-dimensional athlete can, and often does, fall victim to their own strengths. Simply put, we all love to do what we love to do. If I gather ten fit people in a gym and ask them one by one to program a workout for the group, everyone will play to their strengths. Those with great endurance will create a killer endurance circuit. The Herculean types will offer up some strength training and the ones with greater mobility will have everyone trying to bend into a pretzel. It’s human nature to enjoy doing what you are good at. It feels great to have success and it is physically and emotionally challenging to deal with failure. Many people plateau in their training because they spend so much time doing what they are good at while avoiding the “little things” that challenge them. They aren’t good at those things because they haven’t developed them yet. These people are building on a shaky foundation because it is more fun to start working on the latest cool move or stunt rather than training simple basics. Ring training doesn’t lie or allow you to jump ahead. When your body is off the floor and you are attempting to stabilize, you will see and feel just how strong and stable your foundation is. Ring training will show you, without a doubt, just how strong you are. Being willing to leave your comfort zone and address your weak links is essential if you really want to develop a physical practice that can offer you something more than a six pack and a cute butt. HOW GYM RING EXERCISES CAN HELP YOU Rings can help challenge us to leave our comfort zone, but in doing so, we must fight the temptation to cheat our way around our weak links. This problem isn’t unique to ring training; it is common in anything you will see anyone do in the gym. People train with ego as much as with anything else. Although ego can push and challenge you to get one more rep, it can also injure bodies and degrade technical skill. Over the years I have seen many people struggle with muscle ups and other ring skills. While some people spend time developing their basics and addressing their weak links, others find ways to jump or bypass their weakness. The Rings may be a great tool to help us confront and identify our weak links, however, we have to be willing to do the work once these weaknesses are exposed. The ever loved and hated Kipping Muscle Up is a perfect example. Some people Kip as a means to improve volume. While there is nothing wrong with a Kip in a particular context, if all you do is use it to jump past your sticking points (your weakness), then you will slow or completely halt your progress. Instead of finding a way to jump over a weak point, use a support exercise and address it. Live in it! Train it. Strengthen it. Own it! You don’t have to be an experienced gymnast to benefit from Ring Training. Adding some simple and effective basics to your conditioning routines can open up new worlds of strength and mobility. Portable Rings are now easy to find and are an inexpensive alternative to some of the overpriced and inferior alternatives on the market today. Easily adjustable, modern Gym Rings can be attached to a wide variety of supports, from pull up bars to park swing sets. The exercises and variations you can perform on the them are endless. To get the most out of your Ring Training, seek out the advice of an experienced practitioner. Learn proper basics and pay attention to form and progressions. Train with someone who lives with their hands on the Rings and you will never look at them the same way again. BASIC GYM RING EXERCISES The following examples are meant to start you on your way to developing a solid Ring practice that will enhance your overall conditioning and help you rethink your training. Hold with External Rotation Body Row Twisting Ring Pull Ups Ring Dip with External Rotation Hold With External Rotation HOLD WITH EXTERNAL ROTATION This simple yet crucial basic exercise demands straight arm strength along with an understanding of shoulder and arm position. Get up on the Rings with your arms by your sides and your hands externally rotated. Your palms should be facing out toward the front of your body. Your shoulders will be forward as a result of the hand position, however, having forward (protracted and depressed) shoulders with this set up is well supported. Holding in external rotation is challenging for most and is an excellent way to improve stability in the shoulders as you build straight arm strength. With your eyes on a clock, use timed holds as a means to build strength and endurance. RING ROW So, you want to do Muscle Ups? Then stop flopping around and trying to jump over the Rings! If you are not capable of doing a Pull Up yet, start building some stability and strength with Rows. Lay on the floor with the Rings shoulder-width apart and above you at approximately the height of your outstretched arms. Position yourself in one tight line, ribs tucked in and hands gripping the Rings. Your shoulders should be depressed and retracted before you begin to pull yourself up. Raise your body as one unit toward the Rings at a slow and controlled tempo. TWISTING RING PULLUP Assume a False Grip with external rotation while hanging from the Rings. Just like the Row, your shoulders should be depressed and retracted before you begin to pull. Slowly pull yourself up as your bring your elbows close together and the Rings in toward your chest. Maintain the False Grip and keep your hands moving in tight towards your chest. This is a crucial building block to the Muscle Up and being strong and technical in this position will help build the skills needed to move over the Rings. RING DIP WITH EXTERNAL ROTATION Dips are a great way to build your strength. Start with the rings at your side palms facing toward your body. As you progress you should challenge yourself by externally rotating your arms and completing the full dip. When performing the dip go deep. One of the biggest sticking points people have while performing Muscle Ups is their lack of strength as they transfer from the pull to the push. If you haven't trained this deep position in your dips it will be very difficult to push out of after the Muscleup transition. Rings are a challenging exceptionally useful tool that will crush your ego and teach you a very valuable less that we are not as strong as our strongest body part but rather our weakest. Taking your "training to the next level" isn't done with a new supplement or super secret training program. Real progress is made when you go after your weak links and train them until those liabilities become assets. Go find your weakness and make them strong!


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