Ring Push-Ups – Complete Exercise Guide

Push ups are one of the most popular bodyweight exercises in the fitness industry. It is an extremely popular calisthenic exercise that can help in building and strengthening the chest, shoulders, and tricep muscles.

One of the harder progressions of normal push-ups is known as the ring push-up. The ring push-ups require the use of one calisthenics and gymnastics equipment known as the gymnastics ring. 

In this article, we will look at what are ring push-ups, how to perform them, their benefits, variations, muscles worked, and more. Keep Reading!

What are ring push-ups?

Ring push-ups are a harder pushup progression and an advanced calisthenics exercise. It utilizes the use of equipment known as the gymnastic rings which make the exercise more challenging and fun. They can provide more and better benefits as it is challenging and also involves stabilizing elements in the movement.

If you are a calisthenics athlete then you should definitely include ring push-ups in your routine, but they can also be beneficial for non-calisthenics athletes.

As mentioned above ring pushups are a challenging exercise and you may not be able to perform them if you are a beginner or you are new to using gymnastics rings in exercises.

How to perform ring push-ups?

ring push ups
Image – AzmanJaka/iStock

Before performing the ring push-ups it’s recommended to keep one thing in your mind. If you are a beginner or new to training with the gymnastics rings you wouldn’t be able to just jump right onto it. 

You will need a considerable amount of chest, shoulder, tricep, and core strength to perform the ring push-ups. 

If you are new to it then we recommend you to perform some easier movements with the rings first and get comfortable on the rings, also it is recommended to do basic pushing exercises like dips, and pushups to overtime build strength for being able to perform the ring push-ups.

Now that we have given you a slight reality check on how difficult ring push-ups can be, Here’s how to perform them step by step if you are ready for it.

First of all, to perform this exercise you will need two rings hanging just slightly over the floor. Though you can adjust the height of the ring a little higher if you are just starting out as the movement will become a little easier. Also, you might want to use some chalk for better grip and also as a precaution.

  • Step 1: Get in the pushup position and grip the rings firmly with your palms facing each other.
  • Step 2: Arms extended, and keep your legs together with only your feet touching the ground. This is the starting position.
  • Step 3: Engage your core, squeeze your glutes, and then slowly start lowering your chest and bending your elbow.
  • Step 4: Lower down till your thighs almost touch the ground. The body should remain rigid and your elbows should be closer to the hips than the shoulders in the bottom position.
  • Step 5: Start pushing back up till full arms extension. Some people also like to externally rotate their arms during the full arm extension.
  • Step 6: Repeat

Video Guide

Some Cautions: 

  • It’s important that if you are just starting out, do not push yourself too far as it can lead to unwanted injuries.
  • If you are shaking and not able to stabilize the movement, then it can be an indication that you are not having the optimal strength. So, it’s recommended to do some more work and build up enough strength to perform this exercise without any risk of an injury.

Related: Aztec Push Ups – Complete Exercise Guide

What muscles do ring push-ups work? 

Just like the standard pushups, ring push-ups work the chest, shoulders, and triceps muscles. But because of the instability factor added by the gym rings, the stabilizer muscles and the core muscles also play a prominent role.

Here is the list of muscles worked by ring push-ups-

  • Chest 
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps
  • Core
  • Stabilizer muscles

Related: Cobra Push Ups – Complete Exercise Guide

Some other variations of ring push-ups

Here are 5 of the best ring push-ups variations that you should try out.

Weighted Ring Push Ups

If you are someone who has mastered normal ring push-ups and now are looking to go one step ahead, then weighted ring push-ups can be the correct bet for you.

This is just like the normal ring pushups but you add extra resistance to make the exercise more challenging. You could use a weighted vest or weight-lifting belt to hang some weights onto it as added resistance.

You need to perform them exactly like the standard ring push-ups and just make sure you perform them with the correct form.

Ring Flyes

This is an interesting and fun variation of the ring push-ups as in this exercise you will need to perform a chest fly.

This is an amazing exercise for your chest as it cuts off some work from your tricep and works the chest muscles the most.

To perform this exercise, while lowering down you need to extend your arms and spread the rings on both sides, and while pushing upwards bring your arms closer to each other and contract your chest muscles.

This movement will offer you better chest activation. However, it’s pretty challenging as well.

Wide Ring Push Ups

The name says it all, this exercise is pretty similar to the standard ring push-ups but the grip here needs to be a little wider.

This exercise might look somewhat similar to ring fly but the difference here is, in ring flys your elbows should be extended while in wide ring push-ups, your elbows should be bent.

To perform this exercise, you will need to spread the rings to your sides but make sure your elbows are bent while lowering down, and then while pushing back up bring the rings and arms closer to each other. Extend your arms to full extension and repeat.

This is just another great variation of the ring push-ups for your chest muscles.

Related: Inverted Push-Ups – Complete Exercise Guide

Archer Ring Push Ups

Archer ring push ups are also a very challenging variation of ring pushups and can help you build some serious strength. 

In this exercise, while lowering down you will straighten one arm while keeping the other arm bent and tucked in by your side. While pushing back extend your bent arm to full extension and bring the other straightened arm close to the other arm just like you are performing a fly with one arm & you have to do both arm motions together. 

This can be a complicated exercise and can lead to potential injuries if not performed correctly. It is suggested to perform standard archer push-ups and other easier variations or ring push-ups first to build up strength for this exercise and then only perform it.

RTO Push Ups 

The RTO Push Ups stands for Ring Turned Out Push Ups and is another interesting variation of the ring push ups.

In this exercise, you have to externally rotate your arms and then lower down slowly bending your elbows. After that push back and extend your arm till full extension.

This is somewhat similar to the standard ring push-ups with the main difference being arm position. 

This exercise is much more difficult than it looks and this is why it’s just another challenging variation of the ring pushups.

Ring push-ups benefits – What are they good for?

Ring push-ups can provide many benefits and are good for numerous things. Just make sure to perform the exercise with the correct form and in a nicely set up routine with a good diet in place and then you could also experience the following benefits. 

Here are the benefits of performing ring push-ups:

Good for building muscle

Ring push ups are harder than normal pushups and also offer a better range of motion. In the ring pushups, you go deeper at the bottom motion of the exercise.

This also allows your muscle to be in much more time under tension, throughout the movement your muscles will still be engaged and require strength.

In standard pushups, during the downward motion, you do not require any strength, and it is only required during the pushing motion (upwards). On the other hand, while performing ring push-ups, during the pushing motion you will need optimal strength but also during the downward motion strength is required as rings are free and you will need stabilization and power to complete the movement.

All these factors indicate more muscle engagement and time under tension which can help you in building lean muscle mass.

Stabilizer muscles strengthening

The gymnastics rings offer increased instability during the movement and thus while performing the exercise, the stabilizer muscles play a prominent role. During the movement, there is no external stability and your body will need strength from stabilizer muscles to perform the movement.

The most important stabilizing muscles for the ring push-ups are your core muscles and the stabilizing muscles that support your shoulder joint. For example, an important stabilizing muscle during the exercise is the rotator cuffs.

Only the primary muscles (chest, shoulder, and triceps) are not enough to perform the ring pushups, you will necessarily require your stabilizing muscles to be stronger.

While you will need to have some strength in your stabilizing muscles to perform your first few reps of the ring push-ups, performing the exercise regularly will help in strengthening the stabilizing muscles even more for tougher exercises over time.

Improves pushing strength

Well, this is an obvious one as performing any challenging exercise that involves the pushing movement will indeed help in improving pushing strength over time.

By performing ring push-ups regularly you could build up your pushing strength even more which can be helpful to you in performing even more challenging exercises in the future.

If you are looking to perform even more challenging exercises that require pushing strength then adding ring push-ups to your routine is highly recommended.

Better for your wrists

Some people have experienced wrist pain while performing standard push-ups and ring push up tackles this issue pretty nicely.

During the standard pushup, your wrist remains in a hyper-extended position sustaining all upper body weight onto itself while also being in an unnatural 90-degree position. This can lead to pain and discomfort in the wrist joint and can lead to severe injury over time.

While performing ring pushups your wrists stay in a neutral position with less stress being applied to them. Hence, ring push-ups turn out to be a better option for your wrists and to avoid issues related to the wrist joints. 

But this also does not mean ring push-ups can eliminate the risk of wrist injury totally, gymnastics rings are freely movable, and sudden shaking and destabilization can put your wrists at risk too. So, it’s important to follow precautions and perform the movement in the correct form.

Get comfortable with gymnastics rings

Although ring push-ups are not one of the easiest ring exercises, performing them can help you get even more comfortable with the instability of the gymnastics rings.

Performing ring pushups regularly can help you to build strength to perform even more challenging gymnastics ring exercises in the future.

If you are one of those who are looking to utilize the gymnastics rings even more for tougher exercises in the future then ring push-ups can help you build some strength for those.

Best types of gym rings

There are basically three types of gymnastics rings depending upon the material used – wooden, plastic, and steel. Let’s take a look at every one of them.

Wooden Rings

These are the standard rings and are also the most popular ones. Wooden rings are the most versatile rings as they are strong enough, affordable, durable, and lightweight.

Wooden rings are those you will mostly see people using and they also are beneficial if you have sweaty palms. You don’t always need to use chalk alongside wooden rings.

Plastic Rings

Plastic rings are the most durable and the lightest among all rings. The reason most people do not prefer plastic rings is because of the grip, if you have sweaty palms you might slip off even with good grip strength. Hence, if you are looking to use plastic rings it is recommended to use enough chalk alongside.

Steel Rings

These are the heaviest and the most sturdy rings. They can provide good grip strength but it is still recommended to use chalk as if somehow they slip off your hands they might hit you. 

Are ring push-ups better than standard pushups?

Ring push-ups are the advanced progression of standard push-ups. Firstly, you have to master standard pushups to actually be able to perform ring pushups. Rings are freely movable and can move anywhere, to perform the exercise you have to control the gymnastics rings as well as yourself. This makes the movement harder than the standard push-ups.

When the question comes- are ring push-ups better than standard push-ups? Generally speaking, Yes they are. But this varies in certain situations.

For a beginner, ring push-ups are just impossible to perform and thus standard pushups will be better and more beneficial for him.

But if you are an advanced athlete then you probably have already mastered standard pushups by now and ring push-ups will be better and more beneficial for you.

In the end, both push-ups and ring push-ups are amazing bodyweight exercises that vary because of their difficulty levels and shouldn’t be compared.


Ring push-ups are a progression of normal pushups and also an amazing calisthenics exercise. It utilizes the use of rings which makes it more challenging and fun.

To perform the exercise, you will need a considerable amount of chest, shoulder, triceps, and stabilizer muscle strength.

It can provide many benefits if done correctly and also has many different variations you can give a shot at. 

In the end, ring push-ups turn out to be an amazing advanced calisthenics exercise that you could use to progress further in strength with your body weight.

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