Rings Workout: What To Expect In The First 4 Weeks

Fit woman working out with gymnastic rings in a gym

The first four weeks are well and truly the hardest part of starting anything new. Unfortunately, a large number of people who start working out with gymnastic rings, even with great intentions, stop during this phase as they don't know what to expect, may have felt they were doing something wrong, or that gym rings ‘just aren't for them’. But none of this is usually true.

Atomic Iron gymnastic rings are made to be used over and over again, not to be just a flash in the pan and stored in the garage. Our rings are designed to become more than a piece of exercise equipment, but also a personal symbol of lifestyle change and a dedication to improving oneself.

To help you achieve this, we’ve outlined below exactly what you can expect to experience in the first four weeks of starting your gymnastic rings journey, both the good, the bad and the ugly – and how to push through when the going gets tough.

Before You Start

Firstly, it’s important to point out that using rings is difficult and much different to regular weights. Traditional weight training does not usually translate into immediate success on gymnastic rings. So no matter your previous history, you’re most likely going to start off as a beginner like everyone else. As the saying goes, ‘Gym strong does not equal ring strong’.

Week 1: Aches and Pains but More Energy! 

When you get on the rings for the first time, you may notice you will shake and wobble around as your muscles struggle to react to the instability of the equipment. This is expected and and is actually a good thing! It means your muscles are activating, which is required for muscle growth.

After your first session you will be exhausted and in a level of discomfort as your muscles and joints have just been utilised in a manner new to your body.

Over the next day or two you will experience an increase of soreness deep in the muscle tissue, known as DOMS (delayed on-set muscle soreness) which occurs as part of the muscle’s response to the sudden increase in activity. Again, this is normal and is needed for muscles to improve their structure and function. This may last for up to 48 hours, but the occurrence will reduce over time as the muscles adapt and become more tolerant of stress.

At the end of week one you will have some on-going soreness, but nothing that should stop you from training. You should also begin to experience an increase in energy levels as your heart rate increases causing increased blood flow which in turn releases endorphins that raises energy levels.

One unexpected outcome of your exercise routine is that your skin might break out and be prone to spots. This is due to the increase in perspiration during exercise which creates the ideal environment for bacteria to flourish on your skin, especially if you’re touching you face or using a dirty towel. If you do notice any blemishes, shower immediately after working out, remove any sweaty clothes, and wash your hands and face before and after each session.

Week 2: More Hunger but Better Sleep!

As you start to live a more active lifestyle, you will notice your hunger levels increase. This is because you ae burning more calories than you are used to and your body will be sending signals to your brain to keep ‘fueling the engine’ so you can maintain normal energy levels. To make sure you don’t overeat, you should fuel up on nutrient rich food that will keep you satiated, rather than quick snacks high in sugar. See our recommended post workout meals here.

As a positive for using more energy throughout your day, you will notice you are sleeping better at night. This is due to the energy you exert through exercise reducing the time it takes for to fall asleep, improving your overall sleep quality.

You may also feel compelled to complete more difficult exercises or be in a rush to get results quicker. However any urges to do more than you can handle will only lead to frustration, or worse, injury. The good news is that almost every exercise has a variation based on the angle of your body or height of rings from the ground. Focus on performing the basic fundamental exercises with the correct technique and natural progression will occur with patience.

Week 3: Decreased Motivation but Less Stress!

It’s at this stage where the initial motivation you had may start to wane, as your effort is high but the results aren’t showing yet. Again, this is a normal feeling as motivation is not sustainable long-term without goals and discipline to guide you. To counter this, take the time to write down your goals and put them in a place you can easily view so when these feelings of discouragement creep in, you can remind yourself of why you're putting the work in. Remember, long term consistency beats short term intensity every time.

On a positive note, your ability to handle stress will increase as your overall mood improves. That’s because the endorphins that are created through exercise will naturally make you happier, lift your self-esteem and increase your ability to manage daily stress. Meaning you’ll often experience the psychological benefits of gymnastic rings before the physical ones.

Week 4: Stronger, Focused, and Happier!

By the end of your 4th week using gymnastic rings you will begin to notice the results in your strength, muscular endurance, and overall appearance. You should be able to do more reps at a faster pace, challenge yourself with different angles, recover quicker and experience little (if any) soreness.

Plus, increased muscle definition should be visible by at least yourself, but it still may take a few more weeks for others notice.

You will also be well on your way to developing the habit of training with gymnastic rings that will ultimately change your life for the better. On average it will take 66 days for a person to form a new habit, so you’re almost half way there.

Finally, the mood-boosting effects brought on by the continued release of endorphins will continue to accelerate, so much so that you may not feel ‘yourself’ until you’ve had you gym rings workout.

 You've got this!  

See related:

11 Hacks To Help You Find The Time (And Motivation) To Workout
The Surprising Science On How Music Can Improve Your Gym Rings Workout
Uncovered! The Best Meals To Eat After Your Calisthenics Workout
Six ‘Must-Haves’ To Achieve Your Gymnastics Rings Goals