T Nation

Ring Work, Levers, and Holds


Hi CT,

After recently achieving a couple of strength goals i am looking to change my training up and learn some new skills.

I have just bought some gymnastics rings and want to incorporate lifts, levers and holds into my training. If you could pick a few exercise to begin with where would you start?

Here is how i thought i would incorporate these into my workouts:

  1. 14 single jumps performed throughout
  2. Strength work: 3,2,1,6,6,6
  3. Strength Work: 3,2,1,6,6,6
  4. Ring work Lift
  5. Ring Work Lever or Hold

Can you see any issues with this set up?

If anyone else has any old livespill info on progressions for levers and holds i would be very greatful.

Many Thanks

Calisthenics for Core in BB Split?
Calisthenics for Core in BB Split?

I personally do 50 ring dips and 50 ring rows (with the body parallel to the floor) at the end of every workout. My goal is to complete those 100 reps as fast as possible. I do not alternate exercises, I must complete all 50 reps of dips before going to rows.

As far as lever progression, there has been an article or two about it on Tmuscle if you do a search.


Thanks CT, ill give those a go.

Hypertrophy wise, which, in your opinion, is the best lever to master?


Yes... by far. First because it transfers to more exercises (pull-ups, chin-ups obviously, but also the olympic lifts and variations since the lever action helps sweep the bar to the hips during the pull and it also helps keep the bar close to the body in the deadlift) and it provides an hypertrophy stimulus that cannot be duplicated with other exercises.


Yes, it's the front lever... the back lever is mostly a shoulder mobility + posterior chain isometric exercise.

Furthermore, if someone has very tight shoulders, it can actually make holding a back lever fairly easy since the tightness basically locks the upper body in place, you only have to maintain the lower body hard and fixed.

I'm not an expert in lever work. But I feel that the main benefit of this exercise is through holds. I like submaximal holds (about 60-70%) so if your maximum hold in any given front lever variation (tucked with rounded lower back, tucked with flat lower back, semi-tucked, 1-leg extended, straddle, full lever) is let's say 10 seconds, then a 70-80% effort would be sets of 6 to 7 seconds. Doing 3-5 total sets.


Thanks ct, thats perfect,

Between these, high pulls and the rows i hope to spark my back into new growth.

Do you have any ring holds you like to do for pressing that i could place on my pressing day. i.e maltese off the floor or ring flyes to begin with?


No, I stick to ring dips. Maltese holds killed my elbows and led to a problem that stuck with me for 2 years (just got it fixed by using voodoo band flossing). You could do ring dips holds, working toward a ring L-sit.


CT, is the ultimate goal to be able to complete all 50 reps in one set? If so, then once achieved would you add weight (chains/vest)? Or could you add weight anyway and simply try to do the sets as fast as possible and continually try to beat the time?



I followed the progressions in Christopher Sommers "Building The Gymnastic Body" to get my back lever and front lever. I also used some of the banded progressions Carl Paoli describes over at gymnasticswod for my front lever.

Both are excellent resources, i hope you find them useful.


While it can be a good goal, I feel that when it comes to getting larger and stronger it would be beneficial to add the vest sooner than when you can get 50 unbroken reps.

When you can get all 50, done deep (think about bringing your fists to your armpits) and fully locked in 3 sets you can start adding weight.


Yes both are good... I personally prefer Carl's approach.


Coach whats your opinion regarding back levers for bicep development?, for me its been pretty sick and i think its also carried over to my deadlift's a great deal.

I ask out of interest, as i notice you mentioned shoulder mobility and posterior chain development first when describing the lever.


To add to what health4ni said, instead of adding weight could you progess to harder variations of the dip such as bulgarian dips or dips with elbows tucked and supernated palms?


magic, thanks CT. I did 3 good sets of Dips like you say (20, 17, 13) last night. I added 9kg chains to the inverted rows straight off and after two sets realised the error of my ways lol. Will stick with bodyweight until I get get 3 good sets with that, then move up.


and the end of every workout? 7 times for week?






Not really, unless you are very weak. If you cannot get at least 10-12 ring dips and rows in a set, you'll have to adjust the target downwards.


and that not affect to the main exercise of the next day that involves the triceps for example?


It hasn't hurt me. It might the first week, but the body adapts.