Gymnastics Rings: Strict vs. Dynamic Movement

Training with gymnastics rings can be broken down into 2 distinct categories:

  • Strict/strength-based movement
  • Dynamic/swing-based movement

You need to work both types of movement in order to build towards advanced gymnastics skills. (*Advanced gymnastics skills will start to combine swing with strength...more on this topic coming soon!)

Keeping this in mind, know that it's important to master the basic swing as a skill in and of itself in conjunction with strict/strength-based movement. This combination is essential for complex dynamic movements such as a kipping muscle up. Until your basic swing is technically sound and consistent, you'll struggle with movements such as the kipping muscle up.

False Grip vs. Neutral Grip: When to Use What?

Use your false grip with any ring movements that are strict or strength-based. The false grip gives you a mechanical advantage by creating an angle at the wrist. It gives you more leverage and control over the rings.

*Side note: in the elite gymnastics world, we are starting to see more high-level gymnasts perform incredibly difficult strength skills with a neutral wrist position (and an open hand). Why? Because it's harder — and they want to show the hardest version of the movement. Using a false grip in competition is also a deduction, so athletes want to minimize points taken away.

False grip is NOT intended to be used during dynamic action. Any movement that requires a swing or kip should be done with a neutral grip. Why? Gravity...gravity always wins.

When you move through the bottom of a swing, the intention is that you'll be at your absolute bottom position in order to create a fluid swing. Here, angles are the enemy — and gravity will eventually pull you to the bottom point, no matter how strong you are in your false grip. Using your false grip during dynamic movement will cause slack — leading to unnecessary stress, less efficient movement, and also potential injury in the long run.

Do your body a favor and use neutral grip with all dynamic movements and drills. Strengthen your false grip with targeted drills — and apply your false grip to your strict/strength-based movements. 

Try This: False Grip Ball Drill

Watch the video below for the drill — and give it a try! This drill helps strengthen your false grip position. It forces you to stay in the false grip position, keying in on the locked-in wrist position.

  • Hold a ball in one hand (tennis, lacrosse, baseball, etc.) and wrap your wrist around the ring. Your other hand hangs on to the ring in neutral grip. Hang for 10 seconds.
  • Build up to a one-arm hang without the opposite hand supporting. 

Perfect This: Basic Ring Swing

  • Start small with the swing, making sure to create uniform curved shapes through the whole body (Arch in back swing.  Hollow in front swing).
  • No angles at wrist, elbow, hips, knees, or feet.  Curved shapes and straight lines are our friends with the swing.
  • Keep the eyes on the horizon throughout the entire action.


In strength,
Dave Durante 


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