Few things inspire people like the Olympics. Something about all the countries competing against one another that brings people together in a way that few other things do rings. While the track and field events often garner the most press and excitement, gymnastics has always fascinated me, particularly the Rings. The ability to control your own body suspended above the ground and manipulate yourself demonstrates a strength that few have mastered and most wish they had. While all the gymnastic disciplines demonstrate amazing agility and strength, the rings have always seemed to draw me in.
Lets face it, most of us would also love to have the physical strength and physique of a world class gymnast. Few of us have the discipline, attitude, or time to commit to being able to getting that way, much less the facilities or coaches available to us. Using the tools a gymnast uses can help us and incorporating gymnastic rings into your workouts can bring a whole new level to your physical conditioning.
While professional gymnastic rings are designed for flipping and doing crazy stuff that makes normal people gasp and shake their head, simple gymnastic rings are available for home use. Think back to your childhood you may have even had the metal kind of rings at your playground, you can even still find these at some muscle beach locations or at playgrounds, though it is rare. The most common rings today are made from either a high density composite plastic or wood. There are still some made from metal available as well, however I will not really be addressing these. Exercise gymnastic rings attach utilizing fairly simple strapping systems that make the rings light, portable, and easy to use.
The big benefit to the composite style ring is price. It is inexpensive to make them and they are extremely durable. Composite rings are lightweight and because of the low cost, lead the way as the best way to get into ring training. You would be hard pressed to find any good fitness supplier that does not carry a good composite ring set for an affordable price. The biggest detractor to composite style rings is grip. Common sense dictates that as plastic gets wet it get slippery. Exercise leads to sweating (if it doesn’t you are probably doing it wrong) which makes the rings slippery. This usually leads to people taping the rings with athletic tape or something like that to help increase grip.
Wood rings have been in use since the beginning. Wood eliminates the grip problems that plague composite rings. As wood gets wet the grain is raised which provides increased surface area and more grip. The grain in the wood rings also holds chalk infinitely better then composite allowing for better grip and less wear and tear on the hands. Wood also just feels better to most people. It seem to “break in” over time and generally just works well. The trade off for getting the wood rings is price. Wood rings are more difficult to manufacture and this in turn drives up the cost. Most people do not start with wood rings but if you are planning on getting serious with ring work then I highly recommend just getting the wood rings from the start. You will never regret having the wood rings.