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Bodyweight and Rings Training Thread

I don’t know if there was a thread made for this. Currently I’m on a program that involves nearly all exercises on rings and paralletes, as after 25 years of traditional bodybuilding/strength training I nearly lost all enthusiasm for the gym this past year. I don’t like cookie cutter routines But considering I’m a noob with hardcore calisthenics, I am following the Kavadlo brothers program for rings in their book on it.

My enthusiasm for lifting is actually quite high again and I usually can’t wait to train when I wake up. I Plan on doing this for awhile. Plus I’d like to possibly nail down a human flag eventually.

Anyone in on this type of training? My new book collection includes three Kavadlo books and Convict Conditioning 1 and 2.

Not as my main form of exercise but I feel as if @Sigil is a mandatory tag.


Well hey like moth to flame Im here…

Interesting to see Brickhead hop on the rings trend (his posts were really traditional brosplit/bodybduilding why fix whats not broken etc.).

Yeah went deep in the rings/calisthencis rabbit hole (culminating in using band / suspension system to do advanced movements).

Will sticky thread and see how it goes…looks fun !

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Yes! I have followed all those programs in the past. Rings are awesome, and I was perhaps at my physical peak when focusing on rings and bodyweight.

I never achieved: the human flag, 1-armed pull ups, or the iron cross.

Did achieve but was never very good at: full-on bridges.

I did achieve: ring (and bar) muscle ups for reps, handstand push ups for 10+ reps (with wall), weighted pistols for reps, standing ab wheel roll outs, 15+ 1-arm push ups, front levers.

Under-rated exercises for those that don’t do rings much:

  • 1-arm ring push ups. Put the ring about 12" from the floor and do 1-arm push ups. Very hard, but awesome strength and core builder.
  • Hanging upside down and doing shrugs. A great way to stay/get “yoked” when only doing bodyweight.
  • Ring dips with a weight vest. This builds a better chest than bench, IMO.

Here’s a cool thing: I mastered the list above in my 30’s, maybe 10 years ago. Still, at age 47, I can do them all. I will occasionally just check to make sure, and crank out a couple muscle ups, 1-arm push ups, HSPUs, pistols, etc… A holy grail is the above moves and hill sprints.


I’d be interested in your progress and various exercises.

I started my conditioning with gymnastics (and I use that word loosely) my sophomore year in college. We had a trampoline, parallel bars, floor mat, still rings, pommel horse, and high bar. I had zero formal training and not much balance to be able to do hand stands. But I sure had fun.

Before I ever touched a weight I could do 20 pullups and 20 parallel bar dips. The pinnacle of my high bar ability was a front giant swing. I liked to get on the still rings and fool around. Being 6’0" tall and 160lbs I was never going to do anything in gymnastics apart from having fun. My most fun was playing “add-a-trick” on the trampoline with our school’s best diver, who came in 7th at the Olympic Trials.

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Really really cool. SO what I did wth rings originally came from Indigo programs and focusing on the unqiue “contractions” (micro ossciliatory was the name CT/crew gave i think :laughing:) and how the stimulus could create gains for those used to only barbell / dumbell.

I did my first phyique competiton while using rings + weights. Natural and not that big so obvoiusly your miles may vary (would be very curious to see how competitive bodybuilders may or may not use rings to get to stage ready)

So I originally modelled rings training off of a CT / weight lfiting performance mindset.

Hard / technically heavy move -> volume/density work -> accessory easy high body weight stuff.

Back then I was add/ocd on all the minor biometrics (for instnace the “difference” in stimulations from doing weighted ring pushups versus the bench press for instnace). I would note the overall different feelings in body / posture / ligaments etc.

Everything felt better and more “bulletproof” after doing rings.

I’ve seen convict conditioning/ al kravado and my impression is his stuff tends to focus on basic movements done for high reps/volume. Basically using pushups (instead of bench) or pistol squats instead of barbell squats) etc.

That wqas too boring for me and I much preferred a performance/skill orientation such as kill roy’s routine (gymnastic bodies) or even some of the original ring blueprints CT outlined

I’ve tried splitting into push/pull days where push were focused on maltese / planches and pulls were levers and crosses etc.

ALso upper / lower and horizontal / vertical. I setup some bands and suspension training to now doing inverted crosses, modfiied victorians etc.

Super fun of course

THe body / recovery needs also surprsingly hit you (i.e. for me I would feel very drained the next day, especially if I did neurally complex ring movements and also did lifting that workout lets say explosive snatch grip high pulls or heavy powerlifts).

Really interesting to see/how others woudl compare gains (les say physique) after rings/calisthenics only versus weights

I would say lever work is incredible (front lever is here to stay). Cross work (iron cross pulls or inverted cross) have a big drain on cns/ligaments but maybe “tighter” looking body at rest due to the immense tension. Whether as a mainstay work or as activiation / skill days not sure. Hard to remove the bread and butter heavy mass movements (simpler patterns)
Weighted chins and weighted pushups are great. Weighted ring dips from deadstop are ok for me but really eff up shoudlers if done regular.

As an laternative to bench press I"m not sure…have mixed feelings. Back in day would say weighted ring pushups or ring flyes, or weighted handstand pushups superior to barbell (closed kinetic chain and all that jazz). But there was always an element of “sturdiness” or thickness that came form heavy weights…never seem to get that from calisthenics/bodyweight. Maybe diet was a factor

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A few years out of college and quite a bit stronger I managed to do an iron cross. But I did it with a false grip (part of the ring on my wrist, that I did for most of my movement on the rings that required strength.)

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I just burnt out on it after 20 plus years. Of course I’ll still do some lifts with weights, mostly dumbbell for single leg exercises but I needed a serious change.

Paul Wade wrote CC. Kavadlo gets into the more technical lifts like levers, planches, handstands, human flags, muscle-ups, rings.

Plus I love being outdoors and want to do that stuff outside come this spring.

All my cardio is now running outside in the cold here and I love it.

I also got new lifting shoes, Xeros, and they’re the best I’ve lifted and ran in.

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You may also really like Pavel’s S&S, ETK, and Q&D books. He focuses on KB’s, and his philosophy and goals might align with your new approach. I have really enjoyed incorporating more KBs into my training, and KB/body weight make an awesome combo.

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Yes, I was thinking of KB’s too. I am never doing a bodybuilding show again and my goals are different than they once were.

Im gonna try to keep up with this thread. Never did rings, but i have done lots of bodyweight stuff over the years. There have been a few times over the years where by choice or need i did bw only training. I have done a lot of volume on basic stuff, as one of my inspirations at the time was Hershel Walker. I keep thinking about getting rings…so maybe i will.

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I really want to try 1 arm ring pushups now…thanks…lol

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Rings dips and ring push-ups where much harder for me than expected. The one arm version sounds tough, I’m also going to try it but I expect my knees to sand the floor down with all the shaking.

Interesting thread.

Question for the real life experiences:
Building legs with no weights (or some lighter weights) for a no begginer? Anyone has direct experience?

Can you do pistol squats?

Good thread. Can’t really contribute as my ring experience consists of chin ups.

KBs are lighting a fire up my ass so to speak. At the risk of sounding pretentious, they really do bring an artistic quality to lifting iron.

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Not really, lack of balance and strenght.

You can use regressions for it. There are a good amount of calisthenics for legs. I choose to do weighted calisthenics for legs, except pistols, which I haven’t mastered yet. I can do a few Reps but I’m currently doing counter-weight or box pistols.

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Great to see all the love for gymnastic rings here. Since lockdown first started here in the UK back in March all my upper body work has been on rings (hang them from pull-up bar in the garden). Such an amazing tool where you’re limited only by your imagination & obviously your strength. Sometimes I add weight using a vest, but more often I just do disgusting slow eccentrics and paused reps.


Based on my personal anecdotal evidence drop sets seem to work, if that means something. It’s all about time under tension, after all.

Start with plyo jumps or pistol squats, transition immediately to KB/DB (or even band) squats followed by regular BW squats. After a short break move on to lunges (I prefer walking lunges) and repeat for a few circuits.