PUTA RING ON IT
On your gym routine, that is. For strength, lean muscle and shoulder health, get into these circles of life
If you’re like most of the population, your first look at gymnastics rings probably came via the Olympics, courtesy of improbably muscled athletes doing moves that look like Batman’s warm-up. But now, thanks to the popularity of CrossFit and calisthenics training, more and more gyms are dangling rings from the rafters (and reasonably priced sets are readily available online) – even if it’s still rare to see anyone use them for anything other than dips or pull-ups. But there’s a middle ground between the basics and the Olympians, and it makes sense to find it. If smartly planned, ring training combines strength, hypertrophy and joint health, forcing your body to work in unexpected ways and build the straight-arm strength that’s so important in calisthenics. “They’ll also allow you to work your shoulders through ranges where they’d normally be weak, helping your shoulder joints get healthy and strong,” says James Stark, an ex-gymnast and calisthenics coach. “Some people go too far too fast, but with appropriate progressions, it’s an excellent form of training.” Finally, there’s another, less obvious benefit. Moves like the pull-up and dip can put excess strain on the elbows if you do them every day, since your wrist wants to naturally rotate but can’t. Rings provide a simple solution, because they let your wrists rotate throughout the movement. With joint health taken care of, you can embrace high-frequency training – and since you can sling your rings up anywhere, you can use them more often than your thrice-weekly trips to the gym might allow. Time to ring some changes.