On your gym rou­tine, that is. For strength, lean mus­cle and shoul­der health, get into these cir­cles of life

Men's Fitness - - Trainer -

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.

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