Home Workout with Gymnastic Rings - Ring Pull-Ups Guide

Home Workout with Gymnastic Rings - Ring Pull-Ups Guide

Table of Contents

  • Benefits of Ring Pull-Ups
  • Beginning Ring Pull-Ups
  • Ten Tips for Ring Pull-Ups and How to Do Them
  • Advanced Ring Pull-Ups
  • Be Aware of These Mistakes

For those looking to add a new variation or progression to their workout program, incorporating ring pull-ups can be an excellent choice. While bar pull-ups can be done in various locations, such as a playground or a tree branch, using portable and affordable gymnastic rings can offer the same convenience as long as you have a stable structure to support your bodyweight safely. In addition to pull-ups, rings can be used for a range of other push and pull exercises, as well as lower body and core workouts, thanks to their adjustable height settings.

Benefits of Ring Pull-Ups

Ring pull-ups are a compound exercise that primarily targets the upper body, including the latissimus dorsi, upper back, biceps, and forearms. One of the key advantages of using rings instead of a regular pull-up bar is that they allow for better joint position and natural movement. Unlike a fixed bar, rings can move independently, allowing your body to assume a more natural form to perform the exercise. This freedom of movement provides a more relaxed and comfortable motion pattern compared to the restricted range of motion offered by a bar.

Using rings also helps improve grip strength, which is crucial for various daily activities such as opening jars, carrying groceries, and participating in sports. To stabilize your body during ring pull-ups, your hands, forearms, and core need to be fully engaged.

Moreover, ring pull-ups require significant core stabilization to control any swinging movements. The exercise activates multiple muscle groups, including the arms, shoulders, back, abs, hip flexors, and glutes, to prevent unnecessary swinging. Proper form and control are essential during both the concentric and eccentric phases of the exercise to manage the swinging motion effectively.

Beginning Ring Pull-Ups

Pull-ups, including ring pull-ups, can be challenging as they require both strength and coordination. If you are new to pull-ups, start by practicing hanging on the rings and controlling your movement. You can also perform assisted pull-ups using additional equipment or the floor to support your bodyweight. Gradually reduce the assistance and increase the amount of your bodyweight used in the exercise to improve your upper body strength.

While some people consider resistance bands to be too supportive, they can still be used effectively for ring pull-ups. You can thread a resistance band through both rings, creating a seat-like position with your legs in an "L sit" shape. This allows you to train your upper body while challenging your stabilization. You can progress from the seated position by placing your knees or feet on the band loop, gradually increasing the challenge by removing a leg/foot or using a thinner band.

Ten Tips for Ring Pull-Ups and How to Do Them

Now that you are ready to perform regular ring pull-ups, here are some tips for a successful set of reps:

  1. Adjust the rings to the proper height where your feet do not touch the ground between reps. Adjusting height is as easy as never before, with fast-clip connection.
  2. Hold onto the rings with an overhand grip, arms straight, and body still. Slowly pull your body upward, keeping your shoulders relaxed and legs tight together.
  3. Bend your arms on the concentric movement and pull yourself upward until your shoulders are level with the rings, similar to a chin-up on a bar.
  4. Pause for a 2-3 second count and then slowly lower yourself back to a hanging position. Focus on maintaining time under tension.
  5. Incorporate myofascial release exercises using a foam roller and massage balls to increase your range of motion and mobility in areas such as your lats, upper back, arms, and pectorals.
  6. Warm up properly with exercises like lat pulldowns, rows, and face pulls using resistance bands.
  7. Practice hanging on the rings to build strength and stability. Experiment with different grips, such as neutral, false, and above the ring grips. Aim to increase your hanging time to approximately one minute, which is the average time for a proper set of pull-ups.
  8. Strengthen your grip through exercises like farmer walks, deadlifts, rows, and even attempting to palm a basketball or volleyball. Regular upper body exercises like chest presses and shoulder raises can also improve your pull-up performance.
  9. Don't neglect bodyweight exercises. Training with your bodyweight challenges your mind and helps you control your body. Include exercises like push-ups, burpees, squats, lunges, and core work in your routine.
  10. Consistently practice pull-ups to improve your performance. Add a few pull-ups to your workouts, even if you don't have access to rings.

Advanced Ring Pull-Ups

Once you have mastered the basic ring pull-up, you can challenge yourself with more advanced variations:

Wide Pull-Ups

Adjust the distance between the rings to be further apart or closer together than your normal position. This variation targets the same muscle areas but emphasizes smaller muscle groups.

L-Sit Pull-Ups

After setting up for a regular pull-up, raise your legs into an L-Sit position parallel to the floor. This variation further targets your abdominal muscles.


Combining the movements of a pull-up and a dip, muscle-ups are a progression from regular pull-ups. Using a false grip, pull yourself up until your shoulders are above your hands. Transition smoothly from the top of the pull-up to the lower position of a dip, and then push yourself back up.

Weighted Pull-Ups

Add additional weight using a weight vest or dip belt/plate. Gradually increase the weight while maintaining proper form and safety.

One-Arm Pull-Ups

Considered the ultimate pull-up goal by many, this variation is only suitable for those who have mastered the basic version. Achieving proper balance and control with two hands on the rings is already a significant accomplishment, so performing a one-arm pull-up requires even more skill and strength.

Be Aware of These Mistakes

When performing ring pull-ups, be mindful of common mistakes that can hinder your progress and compromise safety:

  1. Avoid using cheap equipment, as lower quality rings made of plastic may not provide the same comfort and grip as wooden rings.
  2. Prevent your body from swinging during the exercise. Strict pull-ups should not involve any swinging motion. Instead, rely on your back strength to perform the movement.
  3. Ensure that the height of the rings allows for a proper distance from the floor, typically around 2-3 feet. This positioning allows your body to hang naturally without having to cross your legs behind you.
  4. Focus on pulling your arm, elbow, and shoulders down and in, rather than thinking solely about pulling your body up.
  5. Maintain a full range of motion for each pull-up, starting from a dead hang and pulling your shoulders up to the level of the rings. Imagine your chin going above a bar to ensure proper form.
  6. Avoid narrow elbows, as this can result in a chin-up movement rather than a pull-up. Keep your shoulders down and back instead of allowing them to rise towards your ears.

Incorporating ring pull-ups into your workout routine offers a challenging and functional upper body training method for individuals of all fitness levels. From core activation to increased upper body strength, ring exercises provide a variety of benefits that can help you achieve your fitness goals.

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