We’re strong advocates for the use of gymnastic rings. In our opinion, they are the most effective training tool for the upper body. They are low cost, transportable and extremely effective in creating an environment in which the shoulder gets a healthy dose of everything it needs.
We’re going to cover two key principles to explain why gymnastic rings are great for shoulder strength and present a highly effective opportunity to scale shoulder performance.
ONE: Dynamic Stability
The shoulder is designed for mobility. When we look the architecture of the join, you’ll see that the glenohumeral head is three times bigger than the glenoid fossa (the socket) it sits on which means that the whole of the humeral head cannot always be in contact with the joint surface. This means we have a very intricate and detailed relationship between how the scapular and the humeral head moves.
The primary objective from a shoulder performance perspective is to keep the ball on the socket (the humeral head on the scapular) and the socket on the ball. Because the rings are unstable and are going to move, we have the stability challenge to help us do this.
TWO: Kinetic Chain Integration
The kinetic chain references the connection of body segments allowing the transfer of forces and human movement.
The shoulder isn’t an isolated part of the human body, it’s an integrated and sequential part of the entire system. To illustrate, if we throw a baseball at maximal velocity, in terms of total power output or force production, we’re going to get 50 percent from the lower body, 30 percent from the core and trunk, and 20 percent from the shoulder. The force is essentially winding from the ground up, transferring through the chain and being expressed out through the shoulder.
A partial or complete compromise at any link within the kinetic chain has the potential to detrimentally affect the transfer of forces.
When it comes to the shoulder, it’s particularly important that the shoulder sits on a stable pelvis. If we have any level of instability or dysfunction in our hips and core, the shoulder is going to have a hard time because it’s not sitting on a stable base.
Because we are self-supporting, either pressing or hanging on the rings in various positions, we must use our trunk. The core supports the body so that we can set ourselves up and hold the position on the rings.
How to incorporate gymnastic rings into your training programme
PRIMING TOOL - Use the gymnastic rings as a priming tool. Perform 1-2 priming sets on the rings prior to high intensity push and pull exercises or heavy upper body movements.
Try the ring archer push up which enables us to build some strength and combine pushing patterns into some slightly different positions we wouldn't normally find ourselves in, particularly if we're using bars and dumbbells.
SUBSTITUTE - You could look to substitute dumbbell/barbell exercises in your training programme for gymnastic rings alternatives for a training block.
ALL IN - Lastly, have a go and make your gymnastic rings exercises your ‘key lifts’.
Try this elevated pike push up on the rings for a shoulder press replacement.
Here are a few more examples of push and pull exercises you can try on the rings.
Looking to buy a set of gymnastic rings? Take a look at Bulldog Gear for 10% off.
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Are you frustrated by shoulder pain, instability and lack of confidence that's holding you back and restricting your training progression? We can help you build strong, stable shoulders you can rely on and have confidence in.