When it comes to upper body exercises very few compare to the pull-up and chin-up. They’re both a little different in their mechanics, but each offer great benefits. An alternative and effective movement to both of these is the: Ring chin-up.
We could learn a thing or five (in this case) from gymnast’s and the strength they possess on the rings. Ring chin-ups are a great alternative for those who want a change up from the standard bar. They also provide relief for the joints and improve grip strength. Although, what are the other benefits ring chin-ups offer?
1. Improve Shoulder Health
It’s not uncommon to see lifters suffer from some form of shoulder impingement. A standard chin-up/pull-up can aggravate impingement due to the limiting range of motion. Impingement for lifters is typically caused from a previous injury, tight muscles (poor posture), or even just wear and tear on the joint over years of use.
The ring chin-up allows us to bring our body through a higher range of motion that a standard bar can’t do. During the pull on rings the shoulders can adjust to make it comfortable by changing the width in which they pull.
2. Provide Joint Relief
In continuance of the above point, ring chin-ups can also provide relief for the elbow joint. Heavy lifting over a lifetime can leave the elbows with degrees of tendinitis. In most cases it’s just a natural part of how our body is aging.
The increase in range of motion rings provide allow the elbows to move more freely. This in return can shift the arms during the pull portion to take stress off of this hinge-style joint.
3. Build Stronger Grip
Ring chin-ups are a great way to improve grip strength. Unlike the normal chin/pull-up, with a ring you’re swinging on a mobile point of contact. This then forces the hands and forearms to truly engage your grip to steady the body. In addition to stabilizing the body, the ring chin-up can increase the range of motion of our pull at the top of the lift (more range of motion, more muscle activation).
4. Strengthen Stabilizer Muscles (plus core)
The primary muscles utilized during your chin/pull-up are the: lats, biceps, infraspinatus, lower trap, and others. A standard bar limits the amount of stabilizing muscles you can hit throughout a chin/pull-up.
For example, as you pull yourself up on a ring you’ll be much more prone to swing. This in return causes the shoulders, back, and arms to work in unison to stabilize any momentum being caused. The core also becomes engaged to stop momentum, which is something you won’t get as much of in the standard chin/pull-up.
5. Challenging & Fun
If you’re new to a ring chin-ups, then they can be a fun alternative at add to your normal upper body days. They add a degree of challenge due to the increased range of motion, demand on grip strength, and ability to stabilize the body. Plus, as you progress and become better with this exercise you can add weight (hello, grip strength!) and start working on ring muscle ups.