Olympic Rings – Beginners exercises

Rings based exercise

In April this year I started working on gymnastic based exercises and I started working with a personal trainer  who introduced me to Olympic Rings (Amazon link to some good ones) and bodyweight workouts.

Anyone who follows me on facebook or Instagram will have seen various pictures and videos of my workouts and progression and a friend of mine recently picked up a set of rings for himself and asked me what he should be working on. I wrote the following as an email but here it is for the world to see for all those others out there who want to learn some rings based exercises but are not sure where to start.

There are lots of exercises and routines to work on on YouTube and other places but I find having just a few to work on focuses my training and means faster progression. The following are the essentials that I’ve been working on. You may want to do some others so checkout the sources section at the bottom.

False Grip

This is essential for working on muscleup and pullups on the rings. This video is the best I can find and gives you a really good idea of how to work on it.

This will take time (it took me 3 weeks I think) to master and will be sore the first few times.

Support position

Aim to get to the point where you can hold at the top for 30 secs for 5 sets with 2min break between sets. This will hurt your chest, ribs and rotators and you’ll be wobbling all over the place until you build the muscles to control stability (which thankfully should grow relatively quickly)

It is essential work for most ring-based exercises. Progression involves starting to hold support with your hands slightly further away from your body.

Pullups on Rings

Self explanatory really but make sure you’re in false grip (above). When you’re doing pullups, aim to bring your nipples to your hands. Point your elbows forward and keep the rings as close to your body as possible – further away = harder. When you’re working to progress into muscleup, you’ll get to this point, then do an imaginary header through the straps and transition into a deep dip.

Aim to do 5 sets of 5 and don’t hang around. There is rebound effect to use when you come down: come down and then bounce straight into the next rep. This applies to all exercises including dips.

Ring Dips

[only the first 3 mins or so of the following video]

Start doing regular dips and aim for 5 sets of 5 dips.

When you get to the top (unlike in the video above), twist your hands out so your palms are facing forward (this is Support Position).

Aim to progress to dips with a weight jacket then on to these:

Bodyweight Flyes

I love these bad boys! Hang the rings really low (4-6in) to the ground and start in a pushup position on the rings with the straps running up your arms and shoulders, body in plank position (you can start on your knees and progress to toes). Keeping your arms straight (straight!!), allow your arms to go out horizontally either side of you. Hold for 2/3 secs and squeeze your arms together to come back in. Make sure you keep your shoulders above your elbows and your arms straight (otherwise you’re just doing a pushup).

This video is using TRX straps (also worth investigating) and relatively poor technique but gives you some idea

Ab Rollouts

Start in the same position as the flyes but push your arms forward, hold for 2/3 secs and then squeeze to bring back in. I find this really hard, especially on my lower back which often results in my collapsing. As a result, I’ve been working on back-ups, dead lifts etc to strengthen it. In terms of form, aim to keep your body in the same position throughout the exercise so it’s only your arms that change angle as they go forward and back to vertical.

Mental video here:

Front & Back Lever

Levers are probably my weakest area because, like everyone: we all have our weak areas, my lats are my weakest muscles and are receiving a lot of attention from me at the gym and on the rings.

Back lever (awesome video as it has other preparatory work):

Front Lever (I’m a big fan of Sam’s work – checkout his videos of doing Cyr Wheel!):

Ring Muscleup

This video will get you doing muscleups in no time (though I would suggest that the guy has his rings too far apart in transition from pullup to dip and you’d do well to keep them closer to your body – aim to have your hands touching your body all the way through).


I strongly recommend you checkout Strength Project. They have loads of inspirational stuff and awesome tutorials.

Barstarzz – Another essential channel and website (and Instagram actually)

Ring Fraternity – Actually discovered these guys putting this together and their tutorials on YouTube are awesome! Checkout the Muscleup one.

There are loads of other exercises and stuff to do but I’ve found that having too many results in me not doing any, so I’ve put down a few here to get you going.

Let me know how you get on and share the videos!