Progressions for the RTO Support Hold

If you expect to do anything on the still rings, even the simplest dips, then you must have a steady support hold. This is your foundation.

Step 1: Support Hold on the Parallel Bars

Tighten up every body part starting from your feet and up to your head:

  • Feet together and pointed
  • Inner thighs together
  • Butt flexed
  • Arms are straight (not bending; not hyperextending)
  • Shoulders down away from the ears (just like the L-sit!)
antranik holding support hold on parallel bars
The stability of the PB allows you to build some strength and perfect your form. Have a minimum 60sec hold before moving on to the rings. However, 2x60sec is even more effective at bridging the gap cause the rings are so much harder.

Step 2: Support Hold on the Rings in Neutral Position

Neutral meaning, the hands are parallel to each other just like they were with the parallel bar. The instability will be insane initially. Stick the hands to your hips to help you stay up there. Work in sets to get 60secs of practice in until you could hold it for 1 minute nonstop.
Get comfortable with staying up there with the hands parallel to each other for at least a minute.

Set the rings low enough so you can just hop up into the support position. If you’ve never done this before, stick the hands to your hips to help you stay up. Note the same cues apply here as they did with the PB. (Elbow pits face forward, shoulders depressed, etc.)

Work in sets to get 60secs of practice until you could hold it for 1 minute. Your progress will look like this:

  • 6x10sec
  • 4x15sec
  • 3x20sec
  • 2x30sec
  • 1x60sec

Step 3: Support Hold with the Rings Turned Out (RTO SH)

antranik holding rto support hold

Rings turned out means exactly that: You’re turning the thumbs out to the sides.  The elbows remain somewhat close to your body (you’re not trying to do an iron cross) and the elbow pits continue to face forward. This external rotation of the shoulder is the basis for many other moves on the rings. It effectively shortens your arms and increases integrity of the shoulder joint by anatomically screwing the upper arm bone (humerus) into the shoulder socket.

  • Initially, you may only be able to turn out a few degrees and it will feel very unstable as if you’re practicing support holds for the first time all over again.
  • Turn out to the best of your ability and it will improve with time. Everyone has a different limit as to how much they could turn them out and it will improve over months of practice.
  • Make sure your arms are not resting on the top of the rings or straps as that will mask your progress as well.
  • Again, work in sets until you could hold RTO SH for at least a minute nonstop. Then, it will be very easy to maintain it.

Here’s a video I made on a whim going over the cues of the RTO SH

It was the end of the day, I was tired and was barely able to muscle up, but I did and the scenery looked so cool with the sun setting. So I just dubbed it with some mysterious music and ta da!

Common Question : How do I position my shoulders and shoulder blades? Should a ring support hold be done with a hollow body or not?

Depress the shoulders and shoulder blades down the back and hold a straight or slightly hollow body. You do not want to arch your back at all in this position. But don’t round your back excessively either, try to keep things somewhat neutral. It’s also very common to unconsciously pike a little, meaning, you may be bringing your legs out in front of you. Try to keep the front of the hips “open” (don’t pike) and point the toes to the ground.

Anyway, hope this helps. If you have any questions let me know!

  • shrtrHr

    Great article, thanks :) I have been working on my support holds using rings hanging from the bar placed in the door frame. Now I was slowly progressing to 60s RTO holds when one day I realised I can hardly hold 40s. Later I noticed that that day rings were placed wider apart (about 10cm wider than usual – slightly wider than my shoulders). Is there something like optimal spacing between rings (relative to body/shoulders width of course)? I guess this does not matter that much when longer straps are available, but I was wondering whether I should work on the harder variation.

    • Antranik

      50cm is the standard width for the rings. You could make it slightly wider, though, if you want, but I’d keep it at a consistent width. :)

  • Whatever6669

    question for very first step… r u supposed to jump into that position an hold it or keep trying to raise urself til u get there then hold it?

    • Antranik

      Just jump up into the position or find lower bars (or chairs or whatever prop you can use to replicate).

      • Whatever6669

        wasnt expecting a reply so fast lol. great thanks!