Walk into a functional fitness gym anywhere in the world, and you’re bound to see someone doing ring rows.
This highly effective pulling exercise only requires your body and a pair of rings.
To help you expand your exercise repertoire, let’s break down the ring row, how to perform it, variations, and alternatives.
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The ring row is a bodyweight pull exercise that targets the muscles in the upper back, shoulders, and arms. Since your bodyweight is the load, it is a great way to develop relative strength. The rings challenge your stability and allow you to adjust the angle of the pull.
The only equipment you need for this exercise is a pair of gymnastic rings, but any suspension strap system works.
To perform a ring row:
The difficulty of the exercise is controlled by how horizontal your body is. To make it more difficult, walk your feet further away from your hands. You can also elevate your feet to the same height of your hands and add a weight vest to increase the resistance.
To make the ring row easier, walk your feet back towards your hands to reduce how horizontal your body is.
The ring row is a compound exercise that works muscles in the upper back, shoulders, and arms–specifically, the lats, rhomboids, biceps, posterior deltoids, and traps.
(Do you struggle to choose the right exercise? Choosing the right exercise for your training session is tough. And if you’re a fitness coach, choosing the right exercise for your client’s capabilities can be even more challenging. Download our free guide to exercise selection and start improving your exercise selection skills today.)
Ring rows are a great horizontal pulling exercise that you can add to any training session. Here is an example of how to include them in a full body training session.
(Curious about those numbers after the exercise? @3030 is how we write an exercises' tempo. You can learn more about tempo in this blog.)
Start the Single Arm Ring Row by gripping one ring with one hand. Lean back until your arm is fully locked out and you form a 45-degree angle with the ground. Keep your body straight and pull your chest up towards the ring until the ring is at chest level, then slowly lower back down to the starting position.
Start the Top of Ring Row Hold holding on to two rings, one in each hand. Keep your feet on the ground and lean back until your arms are extended, then row yourself up until both rings are touching your chest. Then hold your body in this position, keeping a straight posture, for the duration of the exercise.
Start the Bottom of Ring Row Hold holding on to two rings, one in each hand. Keep your feet on the ground and lean back until your arms are extended. Hold your body with a straight posture for the duration of the exercise.
Start the Bent Over Dumbbell Row hinged at the hips with a dumbbell in each hand. Then, keep a straight back and row the dumbbells up until your hands are at your armpits. Then, lower them back down until your arms are locked out and repeat.
Start the Dumbbell Prone Row lying face down on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Then, row the dumbbells up, keeping your elbows at your side until your elbows are behind your back. Then, lower them back down and repeat.
Start the towel row with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a household towel that is wrapped around an upright post. Lean back at a slight angle with both arms extended out. Then, pull yourself toward the post until your hands reach your ribs. Then, slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
This is one of the most common questions we receive.
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