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Gymnastic Rings 101: How to Grip the Rings

vintage gymnast hanging on gymnastic rings

Editor’s Note: This is a guest series from Ryan Hurst [1]

Today, we’re continuing our series on using gymnastic rings as part of your exercise and strength-building routine. Yesterday, we introduced you to the rings [2] and offered recommendations on what kind to get and how and where to hang them. Today, we’ll provide a primer on the foundation for using the rings: how to grip them.

How to Grip Gymnastic Rings

Before you get started with rings exercises, you have to know how to hold on to the rings correctly. There are nuances for proper gripping, and when to do a certain grip in a certain way for a particular purpose. It all comes down to being able to perform the movements properly, and something as simple as the angle of your wrist can have a huge impact on your form. If the angle of the wrist is off, you could develop joint sprains, poor performance, and even injuries from falling off the rings.

There are three fundamental grips you should be aware of and comfortable with as you start your rings practice.

1. Neutral Grip

gymnastic rings grip neutral illustration

The neutral grip is best for pulling movements, and can be implemented either with the rings facing each other, or with the rings side-by-side, facing outward. Here are some tips for the neutral grip:

2. False Grip

gymnastic rings grip false illustration

The false grip is used for moves that take you from below the rings to above the rings, such as the muscle-up (detailed illustration of this move coming later this week). Here are some pointers for proper positioning with the false grip:

3. Above-the-Rings Grip

gymnastic rings above the rings grip illustration

This grip is used for holds, like the top position hold. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

For a clear demonstration of each of these grips, watch the video below:

Tomorrow, we’ll go through a starting workout routine and address some FAQs to help you begin working out on the rings.


Ryan Hurst is a former junior national level gymnast and holds several black belts in Japanese martial arts, along with many years of experience teaching strength and skills work that combine all the aspects of his diverse knowledge base. He is a co-founder of GMB Fitness (http://gmb.io [3]), which specializes in teaching body skill development to people of all athletic levels.

He also provides a free Ultimate Guide to Rings Training [4] for beginners that takes you step-by-step into all the benefits of rings training.