Before you begin, WARM UP!
If you’re on the rings and you hear popping, snapping, creaking, then you need to stop and warm up and stretch your arms more. I don’t mean static stretches, I mean ballistic/dynamic stretches that involve movement. So start with slow and controlled arm circles, shoulder rolls, move your wrists around, do some neck rolls, you get the idea. I often do stretches on the grass area and many other exercises before tackling the traveling rings.
How to travel from one ring to another…
Put some chalk on and remember, if it’s your third round or more, you’re running into danger of ripping and you should probably stop until your hand repairs itself (this may take 2–5 days depending on how tough your hands are to begin with; mechanic hands vs massage therapist).
1) Grab the first ring firmly with your dominant hand and RUN to the next ring. It’s important you start with a lot of speed because the more speed you have, the easier it is to maintain that momentum. For even more speed, hold ring #1 and run back and forth, kicking the sand each time so you get faster and faster so when you grab ring #2 you are starting with a lot of speed.
Here’s my rings tutorial video for starting with lots of speed:
2) Once you grab the next ring, PULL your back arm down (ring #1), RELEASE and you will fly to the next ring.
If you’re losing a lot of speed even though you’re pulling, it’s very likely that you’re pulling both arms. Remember, you’re only pulling the back arm down. When you grab the ring, your arm stays straight. So in other words, one arm is pulling and the other stays straight.
3) Now all you need to do is add a KICK to the pull so your legs don’t hang like dead weight. So it’s ultimately a PULL AND KICK motion that gets you flying.
For someone just starting out, kicking your legs straight out may be difficult and not intuitive right off the bat. So when you pull, it’s easiest to simply bring both knees up to the chest like you’re doing a massive ab crunch. This way, the legs come up as well to help you swing even higher. Most people have the core-strength to do that. However, once you get this basic motion down, you can do way more than just bringing your knees up: You can practicing kicking your legs or using your hips.
Tip #1: What you’re trying to do is lift yourself up so gravity will help you swing to the next one. You could do this by pulling up your arm, kicking your feet, lifting your hips up or all three! The point is, don’t let your legs just hang idly like dead weight. The more you throw your legs or hips up, the greater you’ll fly and lighten the load on your arm.
Tip #2: Look Through The Back Ring. When you’re pulling the back ring, look back, make your palm face you (and not to the side which beginners commonly do) and look through the ring. This will force you to…
- Pull hard enough that you could at least be able to bring that ring in front of your face.
- Face your palm toward you, to help engage not only your biceps but your lats and other large muscles.
- Eventually, pull that back ring down even further, all the way to your hips to gain even greater speed!
Here’s a video of how people commonly look when they first start! Let’s analyze it a little bit!
You see she’s swinging from ring to ring by pulling the back arm and lifting her knee up. Overall she’s doing great and this is how most people start out (doing a hammer pull/side pull). She could fly even higher if she lifts both knees up instead of just one. The other little thing is that she’s not looking through the back ring. If she tried to look back and look through the ring, it would naturally make the palm face her and she would have a stronger pull.
Tip #4: The Cross Pull. The cross pull opens up a whole new world as it changes the way you swing. In regards to health, it alleviates a ton of pressure off your shoulders. In regards to swinging form, it changes a lot.
When you grab the ring in front of you, immediately bring the ring across your chest. Or anothre way of saying this is, bring the rings closer together. Or another way to say this is, when you grab the ring in front of you, don’t just grab it and leave it there, bring it closer to the back ring.
- What doe sthis do?
- You’ll notice that experienced swingers, when they do the pull, their chest isn’t facing the side. It’s always facing the direction they’re coming from. So if we’re in santa monica, on the big rings. You’ll notice that when people pull their arm, their chest is facing the bike rental shop and not to the side.
Tip #3: Practice Figure 8′s. Here’s an exercise to get you to twist your hips and get your legs involved. (NOTE: We’re NOT going to travel down the rings for this exercise.)
Hold a ring in each hand and hang. Now kick your left leg to the right, twisting your hips and entire body. As you come back to center, kick your right leg to the left. Keep twisting your hips and scissoring your legs like this. You may notice that you could kick or twist one side with much more force than the other. Keep doing this and twist deeper every time.
Think about what’s going on and play around with this liberally! The next time you travel down the rings, try to make these figure-8′s. This too will open a new world of possibilities once you get your legs and hips involved.
Here’s a magic trick I learned from other videos: If you simply look up, and follow the center pole that the rings are hanging from, you will be very smooth and it’s a very interesting effect because it cuts out all the thinking. Your legs and body will automatically do what they need to do, to go that way. So try looking UP, glancing straight ahead only to catch the next ring.
Now let’s review some of the tips while watching a video of someone incorporating them!
Notice he gets a very fast running start.
nd uses his abs and legs to help him swing (tip #1).
Notice when he grabs the second ring, his chest is not facing the side but facing the bike shop (where he’s coming from) (tip #4).
At exactly 27 seconds in, he’s twisting hips/scissoring legs (tip #3; try this stationary first!).
What I told you is just something to get you going. Whatever variations or modifications you want to do afterwards is totally up to you, so just PLAY PLAY PLAY! Just like dancing, everybody does this UNIQUELY and there is no right or wrong way as long as you’re not hurting yourself. If you see someone doing something awesome, just ask them afterwards how they built-up to that move and they are more often than not VERY happy to help.
I’ll leave you with this video that is an absolute amazing show of creativity!