If one were to ask you to list the most effective, bang-for-your-buck exercises, you would most likely name the usual “big three”: bench press, deadlift, and squat, and with a good reason! But there’s one other exercise which the majority of people don’t know about, and it can be argued that it’s even better: the gymnastic ring chin up!
We all know how effective the big three movements are. They build the foundation of strength upon which you further sculpt your body. They are the prime example of a compound movement, i.e. a movement which recruits multiple muscle groups at the same time. However, they’re not the only compound movements. Some experts say that they aren’t even the best, which is where the ring chin-up comes up.
So, if one were to make you choose just a single exercise which you would do for the rest of your life, it would be the gymnastic ring chin-up. As the big three, it recruits a multitude of big and small muscles simultaneously. Let’s elaborate in detail on how you would perform the ring chin-up:
- Set the rings at a height of your preference. The rings can be a bit tricky to set up on your first try, which is why you need to make sure that both of them are parallel to the floor.
- Do a standard chin-up, finishing at the top with the chin above the rings.
- Whilst pulling the body up, retract the shoulder blades and keep the elbows tucked in.
- Compared to a standard chin-up done on a fixed bar, in this variation, you will have to work a lot harder to keep the body stable. Always be mindful of this and try to reduce swinging as much as possible.
Why is the ring chin up so effective?
The fact that you’re trying to lift yourself on “hooks” which are constantly moving places additional stress on your body to keep itself stable. It will be a lot harder compared to a fixed chin-up and you won’t be able to lift nearly as much weight using this variation. The ring chin up will recruit more muscle fibers, which means your muscles will have to get a lot stronger and bigger to handle the stress.
An added benefit is that the ring chin ups are a lot easier on your shoulders. In a regular chin-up, done on a straight, fixed bar, the only range of movement is up and down. For people who experience chronic shoulder pain, this can prove to be a problem. However, with the rings, the body will naturally contort and adjust around the free space ’till it finds a position which it finds most comfortable.
Muscles are under tension in every single phase of the ring chin-up execution. You need only to look at its main proponents to see how effective they really are. Every four years, at the Summer Olympic Games, you see these gymnasts with their physiques resembling the statue of a Greek god making people wonder how they got so jacked. The reason is simple, they mostly do their training with ring work.
Regular bodybuilding movements do have their role to play and they remain essential tools in sculpting a shredded and lean physique. However, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t include gymnastic ring chin ups in your routine and see results a lot faster.