The Most Important Information
Rings can be a very valuable tool for you if you’re a bodyweight or Crossfit athlete regardless of your current level of strength. If your training revolves around something other than using your body weight, even the best gymnastics rings will likely slow down your progress.
If you already know how to select a set of rings feel free to jump straight to my recommendations. Otherwise, please continue reading to better understand the reasons behind my suggestions.
- The Most Important Information
- Federation Internationale De Gymnastique (FIG)
- Buckle System
- Last Words
Federation Internationale De Gymnastique (FIG)
Note: The webbing does not need to adhere to FIG regulations unless you’re hosting a competition.
There are no FIG rules pertaining to the material used for a set of gymnastics rings.
The best material for a set of rings is birchwood. In my opinion, this is the only material a set of gymnastics rings should be made of. Birch is a hardwood that is easier to grip than any metal or plastic. It also holds chalk very well.
Of course, wood rings aren’t weather resistant. However, I believe this drawback to be negligible when compared to the other crucial qualities wood possesses (ie: functionality).
Steel rings are heavy, slippery, and unable to hold chalk. Contrary to popular belief, steel isn’t weather resistant. A powder coat finish can be used to slow oxidation, however, this finish will rub off on your hands as soon as any water comes into contact with it.
I strongly discourage you from buying steel rings.
Plastic rings are 100 percent weather resistant, very lightweight, and should be fairly cheap.
Like steel, plastic is slippery and doesn’t hold chalk. You can’t afford to waste your time slipping around on pieces of plastic when you need to be training. If you’re going to get a tool to help you train, it should do just that, help you, not impede your progress.
Rings should be attached to taut nylon straps. Avoid flexible straps.
According to FIG regulations, a ring’s inner diameter should be 7.09 inches. Even if you’re not a gymnastics athlete, something close to this is still ideal.
If you train gymnastics competitively your rings should have 1.1-inch grip diameters to respect FIG regulations. This way you can practice how you’ll be competing.
If you don’t practice gymnastics competitively you can choose between 1.1-inch and 1.25-inch rings. There are three things commonly considered when choosing between 1.1-inch and 1.25-inch rings:
- Ring durability
- Forearm activation
None of the above will be noticeably impacted by 0.15 inches of material. If you have the choice, get a ring that has the most desirable webbing, buckles, warranty, and overall quality regardless of its size.
Webbing should be 1.5 inches thick. There’s no reason to go with thinner straps since thicker straps will last longer.
Note: I currently train with 1-inch straps and they’ve started to tear after about 5 years of semi-regular use.
- 40-foot straps are only useful in a gymnasium
- 16-foot straps are what I recommend for most athletes since they can be hung nearly anywhere
- Webbing that’s shorter than 16 feet should only be used if you know you’ll never displace your rings
Note: Some straps are marked to help you align them evenly. The problem is most manufacturers mark each strap slightly differently. Naturally, this defeats their purpose. I wouldn’t get hung up on getting marked straps since normal straps aren’t that hard to adjust anyways.
A cam buckle should be made of metal, not plastic. An all-metal cam buckle allows you to choose the exact height(s) you want your rings at. If you’re hanging your rings from an uneven support, you may need the straps to be adjusted to different heights – this is only possible with a cam buckle system.
The one downfall is they will take slightly longer to adjust until you gain some experience with them.
The carabiner system is very quick and easy to adjust. However, it’ll wear down the webbing much quicker than a cam buckle. In addition, the carabiner buckle system is only compatible with shorter 8-10-foot straps.
Note: The Carabiner must be attached to one of many small loops spaced along the entire length of each strap. Since very few people would be able to reach a loop higher than 8-10 feet, manufacturers don’t provide webbing that extends beyond 8-10 feet either.
If you get a set of wood rings, you shouldn’t need to do much to maintain them:
- Clean wood rings with Murphy’s Oil if they start feeling grimy.
- Dry steel rings with a towel after each training session.
- No maintenance is required for plastic rings.
As always, a manufacturer should stand behind their product.
1 Year Warranty
A set of wood rings should come with at least a 1-year warranty. The reason most reputable manufacturers only back wood rings for a year is because of the inevitable degradation of wood as it’s exposed to sweat and the occasional rainfall. If you keep your wood rings as dry as possible and clean them every once in a while they’ll last much longer than their warranty.
A set of steel or plastic rings should come with a lifetime warranty.
- FIG dimensions if you’re a competitive gymnast
- Birchwood rings
- 1.5-inch nylon webbing
- All metal cam buckles
- 1-year warranty
Emerge Fitness Gymnastics Rings
These rings are FIG certified. These aren’t for you if you train under a 16-foot+ high roof.
These are made with birchwood and come with 1.5-inch, 15-foot nylon straps and a set of cam buckles. Emerge Fitness offers a lifetime warranty on their rings.
The only drawback is the high price.
Click here for the details
Rogue Fitness Rings
Rogue offers two sets of rings: 1.1-inch FIG gymnastics rings and 1.25-inch Crossfit rings. Their 1.5-inch nylon straps are sold at 16 or 40 feet. If you own a gymnasium or you need to hang your rings from a high place, these are for you.
The rings are made with Baltic birchwood. You can also choose from three different colored straps: green, tan, and black. These come with a 1-year warranty.
The warranty could be longer.
Click here for the details.
I came very close to recommending a set of rings that are substantially cheaper made by Rep Fitness. I ended up leaving them out of my recommendations because they only stand by their product for 30 days. That said, they’ve had many satisfied customers. If you want you can check them out here, but I’m not going to formally recommend them.
I hope this helps! If you feel like something was missed or there’s a topic you’d like to see covered in the near future, let me know in the comments below.