Book Review: Rings of Power by Mike Gillette

Shoulder health is a primary issue for me as a coach and an athlete.

As a former swimmer, I asked a lot from my shoulders then, and I continue to do so as an adult with daily use of kettlebells, barbells and bodyweight exercises. I don't intend to give those up, but much like Rings of Power author Mike Gillette, I discovered the surprising benefits of using the rings in the gym for shoulder health shortly after attending the Progressive Calisthenics Certification (PCC) last year.

Prior to reading Mike's book, my approach to using rings was occasional and haphazard -- practicing skin-the-cats, upside-down holds and L-sits maybe once-a-week. I really wasn't aware of all the other movements I could safely practice and progress with using the rings.

As Mike details, the rings are ideal for strength training and shoulder stability; the neutral arm position with the rings reduces joint involvement while allowing the wrists and elbows to move freely.

Mike, who has a background in military service, law enforcement, the martial arts and executive protection, had suffered injuries and had stopped strength training altogether until he discovered that the mechanics of the rings allowed him to again develop superior functional movement and strength without joint wear-and-tear.. 

He summarizes the on-the-ground and off-the-ground movements with five principles: 1) gravity 2) ergonomics 3) planes of movement 4) leverage and loading and 5) tension as technique.

I prefer the off-the-ground exercises, but I am incorporating more on-the-ground moves thanks to his book with photos, points-of-performance and regressions and progressions.

It is pretty exciting to realize that I have a piece of equipment in my gym that is pure gold and practicing with it is serious stuff ... but it feels like play as I explore new ranges of motion at my own pace.

I have been using moves such as ring roll-outs, inverted ring pushups, trunk extensions, rows, dips and vertical pulling -- all described in his book in detail.

Interested? Grab the book for yourself, along with a pair of rings, and head to the gym or find a goal post or monkey bars to attach them to. Practice, train and play and feel good afterward.