Training with rings is one of our favorite, most effective ways of building upper body and core strength.
The instability of the rings makes every exercise much more difficult than it would be on a bar. And because of that, working with rings helps many people build far more strength, and achieve particular skills much faster, than they could on a stable bar.
Still, the #1 question we get about the rings is not about how to use them or how to get through the initial learning curve that comes with using a new tool. Rather, it’s about where to hang them.
In this post we’ll share some of the options for hanging rings we or our clients have used over the years.
Try One of These 9 Rings Setup Options
There are many more options for hanging rings than we could possibly list in one article, but here, we’ll share 9 common solutions to a common problem.
If you’ve had trouble figuring out where to hang rings, see if any of these options will accommodate your current setup.
Option #1 – Build a Frame for your Rings
If you’re at all handy, this may be the best route to take, as it opens up your options tremendously.
A while back, Jarlo, who loves building things, put together a very cool rings frame in his backyard.
Obviously, for this method, you’ll need space, patience, and permission to dig up the yard (if you don’t own it), but if you have those three things, you won’t regret doing it this way.
When Jarlo moved, he couldn’t take his rings frame with him, but he found another solution (more information below).
Option #2 – Create a Counterweight System
An even more creative approach is one shared with us by Dan on our Facebook page, accompanied by the following description:
18 ft ceiling. 4 x6 beam lagged into roof rafters. Can hold 3000 lbs. (at least!) Rings attached to beam with ceiling cleat. Using straps from EXF Rings, but prefer wooden rings. S-Buckles are against ceiling cleat. Adjustment buckles are 15′ high. Rings can go from dead hang to floor.
Also showing my counterweight system. Like a dream machine, but much more versatile. The counterweight provides assistance, so I can work on muscle ups and crosses (which I can’t do!) Getting close to the muscle-up. Using 25 lbs of counterweight provides 50 lbs of assistance, and I can go from 50 lbs to zero in 5 lb increments. I use a rock climbing harness and paracord, with some swivels and carabiners, and pulleys. Great for working on muscle up transitions and negative reps.
Option #3 – Give Your Rings a Permanent (and sturdy!) Home
Mikey Killingback, one of our founding Alpha Posse members, is the best example of someone who won’t let anything get in the way of his rings workout.
He lives on a boat for a month at a time and still makes it work! (You can read more about his crazy life here.)
Mikey recently put up a permanent rings structure in his home and shared his tips on building your own:
it’s a M12 threaded steel rod. Goes right through to the topside of the roof trusses above the plaster ceiling. A big fat double nut and washer securing it from above, and a lifting nut and delta link down below. Probably strong enough to hang my car from, but I think engineering overkill is important when it’s the only thing saving me from the concrete floor.
Option #4 – Find Another Use for Your Kids’ Swingset
Joe, another one of our fans on Facebook, shared this photo of his rings setup.
He makes good use of his kids’ backyard swingset for his rings workout.
Pretty cool, huh?
Even if you don’t have a swingset in your backyard, try to look for a park near your house to see if there’s a place you can hang your rings. Monkey bars, jungle gyms, or any other tall, sturdy structure can work really well for this.
Option #5 – Find a Place to Hang Your Rings, Wherever You Go
This photo is a personal favorite of mine.
Jennifer is stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, and has been working with gymnastic rings for awhile, even while on active duty.
Stationed in Kabul Afghanistan our team loves a good workout.
One of the group introduced Rings to the workout. A good weather afternoon, our J5 shop went out and did some group Yard Time together bringing out a few more with us to enjoy sets of rings, pull ups, push ups and ab lifts.
Option #6 – Look for a Sturdy Tree
If you feel like there’s nowhere to hang your rings, chances are you haven’t paid close enough attention to your surroundings. There are tons of optimal places all around in nature to hang rings.
Jason found this great spot in Golden Gate Park to hang his rings.
Not only is he working out on a sturdy foundation (big trees are generally strong enough to hold one’s bodyweight), but he also gets to do his badass rings workout in an unbelievably beautiful setting.
Option #7 – Don’t Let a Little Snow Stop You
Training outdoors can definitely be challenging, especially if you live in a cold climate, but that doesn’t have to stop you.
Sami, one of our seasoned, devoted Alpha Posse members, found a place to hang his rings even in what looks like quite a bit of snow.
(Did I mention he’s pretty devoted?)
We wouldn’t recommend training in the snow for the faint of heart, but then again, rings aren’t really a piece of cake either, so we think you can probably handle it 😉
Option #8 – Make Use of Your Gym Membership
If you already have a gym membership you may as well use it!
Instead, take advantage of the high ceilings and abundance of pull-up bars and other strong, metal structures to have a ball with your rings. Now, I know a lot of people feel self-conscious about doing their rings workout in the gym. What will people think?
Well, for one thing, they’ll probably think you’re pretty awesome (because you are!), and for another, to quote one of our members:
If your gym is anything like the one I go to then it will be full of people doing free weights/machines with terrible form. You will be far better off doing your ‘strange’ workout!
Option #9 – Hang from the Rafters
When Jarlo moved not too long ago, he bid a sad farewell to the awesome rings frame pictured above.
But, fear not. Jarlo’s ingenuity struck again, and he found the perfect solution right in his own garage – by hanging his rings from the rafters.
As you can see from the picture, his kids love this setup too, and it’s nice and sturdy so Jarlo doesn’t have to worry about the rings coming tumbling down on him or his boys.
Other Requirements for Gymnastic Rings
Finding a place to hang your rings is obviously important, but it’s not everything. Here are a couple other considerations:
Which rings should you buy?
There are tons of options for gymnastic rings on the market, so you have plenty to choose from. Our favorite rings are the wooden rings from Rogue Fitness.
If you’re in the U.K. we recommend going with the wooden rings from Wolverson.
Some people start out with less expensive plastic rings, which is absolutely fine. We just happen to prefer the wooden rings because we find them to be more comfortable and sturdy. Really, though, whatever rings you find that fit your budget and have good reviews will do the job.
How much space do you need?
We recommend finding a space where you can hang your rings 3 or 4 meters (10-13 feet) high.
You’ll want to give yourself enough room (both height and width) to really nail the movements (especially the straight body movements). Also, you’ll want to make sure your straps are long enough to let your rings hang low (when you need them to) so that you can do the pushups, planks, mountain climbers, etc.
For width, 1.5 meters (5 feet) is great, and then you’ll want to set your rings about shoulder width apart, or a bit wider.
You can probably get through Phase 1 and part of Phase 2 of Rings One with a limited amount of space for your rings, but in order to really benefit from the training (and be able to do full body movements on the rings) you’ll want to be sure to find a space that has the space metrics mentioned above.
Safety is Priority Number One
If you get only one thing out of this post, it should be an understanding that there are endless possibilities for where and how to hang your rings.
You may need to be a bit creative or willing to step outside your comfort zone, but if you have been wanting to get started with gymnastic rings, the excuse of “I don’t know where to hang my rings” should definitely not stand in your way.
No matter where you hang your rings, your number one priority should be to hang them safely and securely.
Don’t just look around for something tall enough to hold your rings – make sure you look for something strong enough to hold your bodyweight safely. The last thing you (or we) want is for the structure you are using to break or move while you are mid-air.
While some people opt to hang their gymnastic rings on a door frame or pull-up bar, we don’t recommend doing so unless the bar is bolted into the door frame, as some are designed to be. When you work with moveable parts, you increase your risk for injury or bad form (which often leads to injury).
So, stay safe and have fun!
And when you’re ready to start training with the rings, our program, Rings One, will give you everything you need to get comfortable with the rings, and build a lot of strength in the process.
Build Essential Strength with Gymnastic Rings
R1 is an intermediate-level program for building basic gymnastic ring skills and getting very strong.