Enhance your upper body with rock rings


Rock rings, used to practise climbing, can be added to home workouts to enhance upper body and core strength

Used to improve climbing skills, rock rings not only enhance finger grip but also add value to regular upper body and core strength workouts. Rock rings are inexpensive, portable and can be hung easily over bars, tree limbs or any surface which can take the load of your body.

The ring is designed for different finger grips. From a full grip at the very top — also known as the jug — for four fingers and three- and two-finger grips at the bottom of the ring. The idea is for your body to be able to pull its weight when climbing up a mountain, using just two fingers.

Enhance your upper body with rock rings

Of course, this will be assisted by a strong core and the upper body muscles. The fingers can be partially or fully bent. They will be sore in the beginning but as the callouses form, the sensitivity will reduce as will the abrasions. Remember to keep the elbows slightly bent, scapulae (shoulder blades) retracted and all the upper body muscles actively engaged. This will prevent any strain on the joints of the elbows, on the neck and the upper back. The lower back should be neutral at all times.

Keep the workout as simple and compact as possible — a few minutes, to begin with. And then progress according to your individual abilities and goals. As always, warm up. A 15-minute moderate to intense warm up should include full body movements like jogs with arms pumping, jumping jacks, spot jogs, burpees or anything that makes you sweat. At the end, cool down. Include stretches for all the upper body and upper back muscles. Rolling is also a good option.

The basic moves

Hold these for 10 seconds at a time. You can do two or three repetitions if you wish. Increase the duration of the holds as you get better.

Enhance your upper body with rock rings

Straight arm hang

Use the four fingerhold to hang on, without bending the arms at the elbow.

Bent arm hang

Enhance your upper body with rock rings

In a half-pull up position, with arms bent at the elbow.

Offset hangs

Shift your bodyweight to one side, loading one arm at a time.

Enhance your upper body with rock rings

Pull ups

Pull yourself up until your shoulder is on the same level as the rings. Here, it is important that the lower body be totally silent (or inactive).

Offset pull ups

Enhance your upper body with rock rings

Shift your bodyweight to one side, performing one arm pull-up at a time.

L hang

Choose a grip you can work with. Maintaining all the posture guidelines, lift the legs to a 90 degree position and hold.

Enhance your upper body with rock rings

Sample workout

This 10-minute workout is for advanced athletes; scale it down to half if you are a beginner, following all the posture and safety guidelines.

1. Pull ups using the uppermost edge of the rings for one minute.

2. Bent arm hang, followed by straight arm hang, using the three finger pocket.

3. Offset pull ups or single arm pull ups, using the upper edge.

4. Bend arms to do a hanging sit using the upper edge. Bring both knees towards the chest and hold.

5. Straight arm sit reps are the same exercise as above, but repeat the knee ups.

6. Straight arm hang using two or three finger pockets.

7. Sit hang using four finger pocket. Keep the legs straight ahead, without bending the knees.

8. Pull ups using the upper edge.

9. Straight arm hang, followed by single arm hang, using three finger pockets.

Rest in between each exercise. Take your time, progress slowly, don’t lock the shoulders and elbows.

Nisha Varma is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist. This is a monthly column with exercises for a home workout

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