Gymnastics rings are unmatched in their ability to build upper body strength. In fact, CrossFit’s founder, Greg Glassman, believes so strongly in the importance of rings as a part of your training program, that he considers them as important as the barbell: “Gymnastics rings occupy a place in our training that only the barbell can match. Kettlebells and dumbbells, medicine balls and stretch bands, while essential to our practice, are second tier tools to the rings.” source
Exercises: In functional fitness, the rings are most iconically known for muscle ups. Achieving the muscle up is sort of like arriving at Mecca for most athletes—it’s a huge moment when we get that first rep! There are, of course, so many other gymnastic exercises to perform with rings in addition to muscle ups: Ring Rows, Ring Push-Ups, and Ring Dips are all extremely powerful exercises designed to build a strong upper body.
Types of Rings: Rings are made of either wood, steel, or plastic. Most athletes find that rings made of wood are easier to grip, with or without chalk. The steel and the plastic rings, while more durable, don’t provide the same grip that the wood rings provide. Steel and plastic rings are more ideal, however, if you’re planning on using the rings outdoors—wood rings won’t hold up outside.