While the rings don’t necessarily look all that difficult, they can often be extremely challenging for those just starting out with CrossFIt. Rather than just focusing on a muscle or group of muscles that isn’t as strong as it should be, ring exercises force your body to work expend energy more efficiently. And it all starts with the basic support.
Rings: Stable or Unstable
When most people first try to perform an exercise on the Olympic rings, they make the assumption that because they can move freely in space, that they are inherently unstable. This is a very common misconception. The equilibrium of the rings is a fixed point. This just means that if you were to move the rings in any direction, they will always come back to their original position on their own.
The first attempt at holding a support can be somewhat humbling, even for gifted athletes. Often the body will begin shaking in an attempt to hold a steady position. Because the rings operate on a frictionless plain, the slightest muscular movement will cause movement. This leads people to think that the rings are unstable. In reality, your body is just inefficient at delivering energy to your muscles under these conditions.
Proper Form for a Support
The proper form is crucial to executing a proper support. And since this is the basis for all work on the rings, it is worth spending the time to get this right. (This is why I invested in a set of CrossFit rings)
First and foremost your arms should be straight. This means no bend in either direction in the elbows. I only mention ‘in either direction’ because I have seen a few women with extreme elbow mobility that actually went past straight while attempting a support.
Secondly, the shoulders should be pushed down. This is an active movement, much like the inverse of a shoulder shrug. As your shoulders rise up, you will notice the support becoming more and more unstable.
Third, your chest should be up. This will help in keeping your shoulders active and down.
Fourth, you must make sure to keep your arms off of the straps. If you arms are resting against the straps, you are effectively cheating. This is because resting your arms against the straps reduces the previously mentioned frictionless plain on which the rings operate.
Performing Your First Support
Your first support can be a pretty entertaining and, for some, humbling experience. Adjust the rings so that you can perform the exercise with your feet only a foot or so off of the floor. If the rings are not adjustable, use a box or other stable platform.
Because you will most likely shake pretty badly on your first attempt, you don’t want to have to worry about falling from a significant height.
Once you get the basic form down try to hold it for 1-2 minutes. After that, you slowly edge the rings farther and farther from your body.
The support and variations of the support are the building blocks for all ring work. And it’s a great way to teach your body to become more efficient at delivering energy to your muscles.