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Minor knee pain? Give your knee a minor break.

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Our knee’s take a pounding!  Between box jumps, running and even burpees sometimes our knees just need a break. If your knee acts up occasionally but the pain is temporary or slight try a few of these alternatives. If your knee is swollen, and there’s significant pain with pressure then it might be time to see a professional.

Movement: Jumping Exercises
Modification: Kettlebell Swings
Here’s why: If one jumping exercise causes you knee pain, then most will until you heal. If you still want an exercise that involves explosive movement and works many of the same muscles, go with kettlebell swings.

Movement: Step-Ups
Modification: Bulgarian Split Squats
Here’s why: Along with your quadriceps split squats work the posterior chain.  Focusing too much on quad exercises without posterior chain workouts can lead to knee issues, so split squats are a great way to balance the upper leg and prevent knee pain. Make sure the weight in your front foot is on your heel, not your toes.
Movement: Squats
Modification: Barbell Box Squats
Here’s why: Box squats could be a good temporary option because it trains your shins to stays vertical and your weight is naturally shifted farther back onto your heels instead of too far forward putting your knees at risk.
Movement: Running
Modification: Sled Push or Sled Pull
Here’s why: Working with a sled slows down all the movements you’d normally employ running, while reducing the shock of pounding pavement.  You’ll activate the same muscles, and sled exercises will give you a great cardio workout. (thanks again Martin!)

Adult Gymnastics - Why We All Should Do It

Friday, September 5th, 2014


The benefits of gymnastics has been shown time and time again. I have been coaching the sport for over 10 years, in addition to being a collegiate competitive gymnast. I strongly believe in the benefits of doing this sport for all ages, but this article will focus on adult gymnastics.
Most people over 25 believe that they are too old to start gymnastics. Many people believe that 15 is too old to start gymnastics. This is a ridiculous notion. 15, or 25 might be too late to start gymnastics if the intent is to become an Olympic competitor, but it is never too late to gain the benefits from practicing this sport. Gymnastics will improve performance in any other sport, as well as improving overall fitness and functional strength to a level that most people never attain.

Doctors are finally coming to realize and publicly acknowledge the long term benefits to resistance training. Studies have shown that resistance training improves joint health, maintains muscular development and improves cardiovascular fitness. This is true for all ages. Gymnastics is all about resistance training. The conditioning involved in a progressive gymnastics program focuses on functional strength. Elite gymnasts strength to weight ratios are second to none. This is what enables elite gymnasts to perform skills that appear to be humanly impossible. While some of these moves might be out of reach for most people, with a focused gymnastics conditioning program most adults will be stronger than they have ever been. Not only will this conditioning enable anyone to perform moves that will make most 17 year olds gape in amazement, but it will also help prevent injuries.

Stretching and flexibility is an area that is sadly lacking from most fitness programs. The 2 to 3 minutes spent stretching before a class is simply not enough. Being flexible allows for greater joint mobility, improves circulation and helps to prevent joint injury. There is a strong focus on flexibility in gymnastics. Most gymnastics skills are greatly benefited by flexibility and others are simply impossible without the proper flexibility. Gymnastics stretching is also taught by people who really understand how to improve flexibility quickly and safely. Gymnasts are among the most flexible athletes in the world. As people age their flexibility tends to decrease. This is generally due to a lack of stretching and physical activity rather than simply a result of aging. If flexibility is trained throughout ones life a high degree of flexibility can be maintained.

A few points that must be considered when starting gymnastics as an adult. First is that it is difficult. Adults have few if any advantages over a five year old child starting this sport, and many disadvantages. Adults will start out with basic skills, and must be patient in learning new skills. One of the biggest hindrances I’ve seen in coaching adult gymnastics is that many adults are embarrassed watching 9 year old kids that are significantly better than them at the sport. The kids fully understand, because they went through it as well. There is nothing to be hesitant about. Everyone in that gym has been through the basics. Second is an awareness of safe progressions. Adults do have a higher risk of injury then children in the sport. This is due to larger body size. A 180 lb adult will hit the floor with a lot more force than a 60 lb child. Even though the adult has more muscle mass to buffer the impact the possibility for injury is increased. Secondly adults recover slower than children. Proper progressions and a focus on safety is critical. One of my prodigies in my adult class is a fellow who started gymnastics at the young age of 46. He has now been doing gymnastics for 3 years, and has transformed. He is in the best shape of his life, and can perform skills that were not even conceivable 2 years ago. A point to the benefits of his doing gymnastics. About 5 months ago he received a 2 point separation in his shoulder skiing. The doctors tell him that had his shoulder not been as strong as it is the injury would have been far worse. Not only was the injury itself minimized, but his recovery has been tremendous. With gymnastics training focused around the injury he is back to full capacity, and improving again.

I’ve saved the best, and most important factor in starting adult gymnastics for last. It is fun. Learning how to tumble, flip, swing, and come as close to self powered flight as is possible is a blast. Gymnastics is anything but boring. There is always another step to learn. It is possible to learn something new every single class or workout that is attended.

If you are an adult and think you are “too old” to start. Think again. Check our schedule,  find some friends and come have some fun!

This Week In The Cave

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Fall always brings back familiar faces, but we get to meet new ones too!  The CAVE would like to extend a very warm welcome to all our new families.  We’re excited to have you all as part of our family and we look forward to building deeper community together while having lots of fun!
New Classes
Do you have a middle schooler?  We’ve added 2 new Youth Strength and Conditioning classes, Tuesdays or Thursdays at 3:30pm.  It’s the perfect time of day, right after school, get a workout in before settling into the business of homework!  To sign up, e-mail or call The CAVE at (415) 927.1630.

CrossFit Day at The Oakland A’s

Come join the fun with The CAVE family at an Oakland A’s game on Sunday, September 7th, 2014!  There’s still time to sign up! Experience the A’s first ever CrossFit Day in our special Field Level seating area. All participants will receive an exclusive A’s CrossFit Day t-shirt and admission to the pre-game WOD where a group of northern California’s top CrossFit® athletes will compete. We also may see one of our own athletes compete in the pre-game WOD!We know now that the pre-game WOD will include Neal Maddox, Wes Piatt, Gabe Subry, Margaux Alvarez, Chyna Cho, Ben Alderman, Miranda Oldroyd and Camille Leblanc. If our gym has one of the top 20 most people attending, we get to pick a person to compete in the WOD with them!

Fitness Goals

Now that the kids are back in school, it’s time to think about YOUR fitness goals and how the staff at The CAVE can help you achieve them. Are you curious about CrossFit? E-mail our CrossFit Director with your questions. Do you want to know more about our Yoga classes? Please e-mail Stephanie at  While your kids are in their classes, you can take one too!

The CAVE is Hiring
Do you love working with kids?  The CAVE is hiring new gymnastics and parkour coaches and we’re looking for exceptional people that are great with children! If interested, please see the full job description posted here:
Let’s keep in touch!
Have you liked us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram? These two tools are great ways to stay in touch with the latest in what’s happening in the CAVE and some great pictures of what we’re up too!  Check us out!

WOD Recovery Yoga Why You Should Do it

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

As athletes, we are constantly looking for new ways to both improve performance and prevent injuries. We have found unique techniques to keep the muscles loose — utilizing a lacrosse ball to massage out deep knots, or stretch with bands to distract the joint and increase mobility. While all of these tools are necessary parts of a CrossFitter’s daily training plan, simple stretching is often overlooked and certainly underutilized.

WOD Recovery Yoga was developed by our on-staff yoga teacher and avid CrossFitter, Stephanie Ring. Teaching athletes yoga is her passion. This love of teaching yoga combined with her first hand knowledge of CrossFit inspired her to create a specific type of class geared directly toward the post workout needs of these athletes. Her anatomical knowledge of CrossFit movements combined with her in depth knowledge of yoga postures and sequencing, provides the athlete with specific and targeted stretches and sequencing to help unwind, stretch and mobilize those places in the body that need it most.

Still need more convincing? Here are 5 simple reasons to try WOD Recovery Yoga:

1. Involves less thinking, more stretching

2. Targets muscles specifically worked during WOD

3. Stretches muscles multiple times during class to release tension and improve flexibility

4. Increases body awareness

5. Slows down the body and mind to aid in recovery

WOD Recovery Yoga

Monday and Thursday   10:00-11:00am

Can’t make that time? Private instruction and semi-private classes are available.

Yoga is coming to the Cave!

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

steph_ring-591.jpgThe Cave is excited to announce 2 new Yoga classes expertly instructed by Stephanie Ring.

Wednesday 12-1pm Athletic Vinyasa Flow:

Athletic Vinyasa Flow is a fast paced yoga class designed to challenge athletes and yogis physically and mentally. Each class will focus on strength, core stability, flexibility and postures to help improve overall athletic performance.

Monday and Thursday 10am-11amWOD Recovery Yoga (Post CrossFit Yoga):

WOD Recovery Yoga (Post CrossFit Yoga)introduces athletes to another form of movement designed to improve their WOD performance and overall fitness. Each class will include poses and transitions to improve performance in 5 of the 10 general physical skills crucial to overall fitness: Flexibility, Coordination, Agility, Balance and Accuracy. Classes will be sequenced to improve mobility in foundational movements like squats and designed to help unwind the body from previous workouts.

Private and Semi Privates

Available for private instruction Monday through Saturday. Email to set up appointment for private or semi private yoga classes.

Stephanie Ring, creator of Endure Yoga, is an athlete who absolutely loves yoga.

She created Endure Yoga to help athletes improve their athletic performance. This is a specialized yoga system in which yoga classes are specifically designed around the athlete and their specific goals and the type of physical activity that they are pursuing. Classes help to maintain flexibility and fitness and mirror the builds, recovery and taper periods in a training season.

The sumo deadlift high pull (SDHP)

Friday, August 1st, 2014

photo-8You may remember my article “For the love of all things heavy Deadlift” describing the deadlift in detail and explaining what an efficient lift it is. This article builds on that information and adds another element to that movement, with a high pull.

The sumo deadlift high pull (SDHP) is an explosive compound movement that develops tremendous power in the posterior chain. It primarily strengthens the hamstrings, glutes, lower back and upper traps. The SDHP is a great movement to also help improve your pull during the clean, in addition to full-body coordination and explosive power.
The SDHP is similar to the traditional deadlift but has a wider stance. The SDHP stance, called the sumo stance, (clever, huh?), is wider than shoulder stance with your toes pointed out about 30 degrees. Stability is extremely important, so make sure your stance isn’t so wide that your knees are pointing or caving in.
The SDHP also uses a narrower grip as compared to the traditional deadlift. The hands are placed near the middle of the bar, which allows more flexibility to pull the bar all the way up to the chin. A good way to figure out where to place your hands is to center them on the bar with approximately two thumb distances between them (touch the tips of your thumbs together and then grip the bar with an overhand grip).
Otherwise, everything else is the same as in the deadlift – the hips are above the knees, weight is in the heels, the bar is in close to the shins, the shins are vertical or near-vertical, and the shoulders are slightly in front of the bar, placing it directly underneath the scapular spines (under the tops of your shoulder blades). Finally, the shoulder blades are retracted and the back is held tightly with the chest up, maintaining the lumbar arch.
Before lifting the bar, take a deep breath and hold it to help support the torso. The abs, glutes, hamstrings and shoulder blades should be contracted tightly. The body should be tense against the bar to prevent jerking the bar off the floor and to pre-activate the muscles.
The lift begins by driving the heels into the ground and explosively opening the hips. The hips must reach full extension before anything else happens. This means that you reach a full standing position. Thinking of making yourself tall can help. The arms must stay absolutely straight, without any pull. Bending the arms early will decrease your ability to transfer force to the bar.
Once the hips are fully extended, the shrug begins. The shoulders need to begin shrugging up fluidly with the end of the hip extension, so there is no decrease in bar speed. Try to think about including the shrug to make sure you don’t forget it and to help make it more automatic. The arms must stay absolutely straight, without any pull.
After the shoulders shrug, the arms can now begin to bend.  The goal is to let the bar float, so you should think about trying to toss the bar to the ceiling. Of course, this won’t happen because of the weight on the bar.
During the lift, the feet should maintain contact with the ground the entire time. At the top of the pull you should be at triple extension – the hips, knees and ankles should all be straight.
The weight should just fall back down to the ground, rather than trying to slowly lower it. However, keep your grip on the bar in order to control it and prevent it from bouncing away dangerously. Be aware to not round your back on the way down.
Please remember to check and reset your form between reps, and always remember form under fatigue.
Train hard.

For the Love of All Things Heavy, Deadlift.

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Some will argue that a squat is the king of all lifts, but I respectfully disagree.  I believe deadlifts to reign supreme for reasons ranging from improving overall strength and body composition, to building a backside and improving posture.
There is no other exercise that requires much of the body to work extremely hard in unison in order to get the job done. High energy output plus external resistance is a dream come true for fat loss and physique change!
The deadlift absolutely torches the posterior chain, making it the perfect exercise to strengthen and develop both the glutes and hamstrings.   Furthermore, deadlifting will strengthen the entire back and its surrounding muscles, making this lift great for rehabilitative, and preventative, purposes. In fact, the deadlift is the most effective exercise for building the core strength that supports all other major muscle groups.
Core strength (core pertaining to the central muscles of the body, i.e. lower back, glutes and the abdominal region) is a very important health component, in that it supports the body in almost every movement and position, and the deadlift is the key core strength building movement.
I’m a big fan of conventional pulls using the barbell, however, the beauty of the deadlift is that there are plenty of variations of it for you to try! Sumo deadlifts, Snatch grip deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, single leg Romanian deadlifts, and trap bar deadlifts, are all at your disposal.
The self-assurance that deadlifting (and really, any heavy lifting) gives a person is significant, because there is no grey area when it comes to getting stronger. You either are, or you aren’t, and unlike the scale or other subjective ways of measuring things, the weights don’t lie. When lifting a weight that you couldn’t 6+ months ago, you can’t help but feel good about yourself, and that ego boost carries over into our day-to-day life as well.

I pick things up and set them down — functional fitness at it’s best!  Lifting objects from the ground, from a variety of angles, is enhanced through regular deadlifting. We pick stuff up off the floor all of the time in real life — our kids, boxes, groceries, you name it!  Deadlifts help train our muscles to lift practically outside of the gym minimizing injury in real life too. Deadlifts actually have a real life application.


Deadlifts help to develop cardio-respiratory fitness. Like the squat, deadlifts will severely tax the cardio-respiratory system if done with enough intensity. This obviously has positive ramifications for cardiovascular health. In fact, high intensity deadlifts aerobically tax the body big time.
The benefits of consistent deadlifting with substantial weight are numerous, and you’ll notice improvements in both your physique and in your self-confidence.


The deadlift is a tricky exercise to master due to the high level of balance and coordination needed, and the injury risk if incorrectly performed.  Therefore, the deadlift requires an intricate series of steps that need to be followed. A step by step guide to the standard deadlift follows:

FIRST STEP: Achieve the right stance

Assume a shoulder width stance, and grip the barbell so that the inner forearms touch the outside of thighs, and shins lightly touch the bar. Either an overhand or an under/overhand (one hand over, one hand under) grip can be used. The under/overhand grip is preferable in most instances.

SECOND STEP: Adjust posture

Fix spine in a neutral position (neither up nor down, but looking straight ahead), and place the hips down. Pulling in the lower abs will ensure a neutral pelvic position. Shoulders should be held back, squeezed tightly, and positioned over the bar - they should never be rounded.
Chest should be forward, not down. Before lifting the weight, tighten the shoulders and squeeze the glutes together to help generate power during the initial part of the movement.

THIRD STEP: Lift the weight

Grip hold of the bar tightly, and push with the feet. The legs must power the weight up. Hips and shoulders should ascend at the same time, while the hands are holding the weight in place. Toward the top of the movement, lock out by employing more upper body strength until the weight is at about the midway position of the upper thigh.
During the ascent phase, there should be an initial push with the balls of the feet followed by a transference of weight to the heels, as the bar passes the knees into the lock out position. Remember to keep the bar in contact with the body throughout the movement.

FOURTH STEP: Lower the weight

Reverse step three until the bar touches the floor, pause, and repeat until completion of set. Bear in mind that the weight should not forcefully hit the floor - it should be lowered in a controlled manner while tightness is maintained throughout the body. Do not rely on momentum to power the weight up on the second rep, as this will cause a jarring effect, which might contribute to spinal damage.

For the love of all things heavy, deadlift.

The deadlift is picking something up and putting it down. You do it a million times over the course of your life, so it’s important to learn how to do so properly. Even if you don’t have any desire to compete in powerlifting or to set a new gym record, you still need to be strong enough to lift things up off the floor without hurting yourself. It’s basically necessary for life. I’m sure this, in some roundabout way, means that deadlifts are imperative for living.

Whole Life Challenge

Friday, April 25th, 2014

A lot goes into health and fitness: Exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress, etc. We talk about these things all the time at The Cave. Sometimes keeping on track is daunting. A few years back to help with this task my friends at CrossFit LA run by Andy Petranek started The Whole Life Challenge. It is a game/contest to help people with the accountability of health. We have decided to get involved this cycle to help our students keep on track. To sign up for the challenge go to our team page at:

If you sign up today you will receive a $10 discount on the sign up. We have had Cavers do the WLC before with great success. Share this with your friends as well. They do not have to be Cavers to participate, nor do they have to be crazy into fitness. There are varying levels of participation. It may be a good way to get some friends to start thinking about their health and fitness without the full level of commitment that joining The Cave can be.

How Does Exercise Make Us Happier?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

ropesFor many years, physical exercise has been touted to be a cure for nearly any ailment, from depression to Alzheimer’s disease to Parkinson’s and more.  What would you think if I told you it may even be possible to exercise to happiness?!  Physically active people recover from mild depression more quickly, and physical activity is strongly correlated with good mental health as people age ¹. You have probably heard this before, but in order to truly understand, I felt it was time to get specific and even a little scientific about how exercise affects our brains.

It’s fairly simple to recognize how exercise affects our bodies.  As we exercise, we build more muscle and/or stamina, two elements that are measurable and obvious.  Better fitting pants and heavier weights are clear indicators to understand how effective exercise is for a body.  But, recognizing the benefits of exercise to our brains is not as clear to identify.

What triggers happiness in our brains when we exercise? The short answer is based on the release of endorphins.  But what exactly does that mean?  First, a shallow dive into the science pool…

When we begin exercising, our brains recognize it as stress.  As the heart pressure increases, our brains think we are either fighting an enemy or fleeing from it, commonly identified as the fight-or-flight response.  To protect ourselves and our brains from stress, a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) is released.  BDNF is both protective and reparative to our memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. This is why after exercising, we often think more clearly and feel so at ease, even yes, happy.  This experience is by far my favorite part about working out.  That moment when the weight of the world has lifted off my shoulders and I know I can get through anything — even whatever crazy WOD Bo had programmed that day.  Endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, is also released in our brains at this time.  The endorphins’ job is to minimize the discomfort of exercise, blocking any sensations of pain that are even associated with a feeling of euphoria. Overall, during physical activity, our brains are considerably more active than when we are just sitting down or even concentrating mentally.

The important piece to understand is  how we can trigger these processes in an optimal and longer lasting way. Now this is where it all gets very interesting. A recent study from Penn State University found that the level of productivity and happiness on a given work day is based more on if you exercise regularly, and not just on that particular day.

“Those who had exercised during the preceding month but not on the day of testing generally did better on the memory test than those who had been sedentary, but did not perform nearly as well as those who had worked out that morning.”

To get the highest level of happiness and benefits for health, the key is not to become a professional athlete. On the contrary, a much smaller amount of daily exercise is needed to reach the level where happiness and productivity for every day life can peak. New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Reynolds has written a whole book about this subject matter, titled The First 20 Minutes. In the book she states, “The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk — all of those things come in in the first 20-40 minutes of being active.”  So really, you can relax and don’t have to be on the look-out for the next killer work-out.  (Although I do love them.)  All you have to do is get focused and get moving to gain the full happiness boost every day!

“On exercise days, people’s moods significantly improved after exercising.  Mood stayed about the same on days they didn’t, with the exception of people’s sense of calm which deteriorated.” (University of Bristol)

As a quick last fact, exercise and the subsequent increase of the BDNF proteins in our brains act as a mood enhancer.  So, at the beginning of exercise, the feeling of euphoria is the highest. This means that if you have never exercised before, or not for a long time, your happiness gains will be the highest if you start now.

Exercise and happiness are 2 immensely important things to me.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions too.

Got Rings?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

You have now acquired a pair of rings. So, now what? You know what a muscle-up is, maybe you can do some dips on the things, but there’s got to be more, right? Absolutely! A pair of rings has limitless possibilities for training. Common exercises take on a whole new dimension when performed on the rings, and many ring exercises can be performed nowhere else.

Ring rows

A ring row is an excellent beginner drill to progress an individual toward pull-ups. Start with the rings at just above shoulder height. Grab the rings and lean back until your arms are straight, to place tension on the straps. Keep your body straight and tight and pull your shoulders to the rings. As strength increases, simply lower the rings so that your body is closer to being horizontal when you lean back.
Ring RowRing RowRing RowRing Row

Hang pull-through to skin the cat pull-out

A hang pull-through to skin the cat pull-out is a sequence of movements that works basically every muscle group from the mid-thigh up, while providing an excellent shoulder stretch as well. Starting in a hang and keeping your arms and legs straight, lift your toes up and back overhead, through a piked inverted hang. Then, continue to lower your toes slowly toward the floor behind you. This hanging position is called a skin the cat. At first you will want to practice this movement with the rings low enough so that you will be able to touch the floor with your feet as you lower toward the skin the cat position. This will enable you to safely get a feel for the movement. From the skin the cat position, lift your hips and pull out back through a piked inverted hang and lower to hang. Once you have some experience, you can raise the rings and lower into the skin the cat clear of the floor and then pull back out. Try to relax your shoulders at the bottom of the skin the cat to get a good stretch and truly find the bottom of your skin the cat. This skill works as an excellent part of a warm-up, or can be used in a conditioning set when done for repetitions’ even if you find one or two reps easy, they add up quickly as part of a workout.
Skin the Cat Pull OutSkin the Cat Pull OutSkin the Cat Pull OutSkin the Cat Pull OutSkin the Cat Pull Out

Straight-body inverted hang

Straight-body inverted hangs require balance and constant stabilization. Simply hanging upside down with your toes pointed toward the ceiling will be a challenge for many people unfamiliar with being upside down. This drill helps to develop balance and control while inverted and also strengthens the rotator cuffs due to the constant stabilization required.


Pull-ups on the rings are more difficult than bar pull-ups for some, and easier for others. Some people who are unable to do pull-ups on a bar due to limited shoulder flexibility are able to do full range of motion pull-ups on rings. The freedom of movement allows the shoulders to align themselves in a comfortable way while doing the exercise.

Inverted pull-ups

Inverted pull-ups combine the stabilization requirements of an inverted hang with the conditioning load of a regular pull-up. Starting in a piked or straight-body inverted hang, pull up as high as you can and return to the start position. Be sure to practice these in both the straight and pike positions.

Straight Body Piked

Pull-up to lever

A pull-up to lever sequence is a good starting point for developing a front lever. Starting in a bent-arm hang and keeping your body straight and tight, lift your toes and push the rings away to a front lever, then return to a bent-arm hang. The key to this exercise is to lift and push into the lever. Do not allow your shoulders to drop as your legs lift. Keep your shoulders as high as possible and push the rings downward. This makes the motion significantly easier and helps develop proper technique for the front lever.
Pull Up To LeverPull Up To Lever

Back lever

A back lever is the easiest straight-body strength move in gymnastics. From a piked inverted hang, push your toes out directly toward the wall until you are just barely able to hold the position. Return to the pike. Work the back lever and push your limits until you are able to stop your body parallel with the ground. It is essential to actively tense your entire body when executing this skill. Squeeze your arms tight and press the rings inward, while simultaneously squeezing your heels together and keeping your butt tight. Finally, lower into the skin the cat and pull back up to inverted hang with a straight body.
Back Lever

Front lever

There are several steps to help develop a front lever.
Step 1: Tucked front lever. Try to hold your torso parallel with the ground with both legs tucked. Be sure your arms are straight.
Step 2: Single leg front lever. Hold a front lever with one leg straight and the other leg bent so that your foot is next to your knee. Be sure to switch which leg is bent.
Step 3: Straddle front lever. Hold a front lever with your legs straddled as wide as possible. Gradually, bring your legs closer together as you build strength.
Step 4: Front lever. Following the above drills will bring you to the point where you can hold a stable, legs-together front lever.

Straight-body pull to skin the cat pull-out

A straight-body pull to skin the cat pull-out is identical to the hang pull to skin the cat pull-out with the exception that it will be done with a straight, rather than piked, body. With straight arms and a straight body, pull through a front lever to inverted hang, continue through back lever, and lower to skin the cat. Lift your heels and pull out, keeping your body straight, then roll through an inverted hang, lower through front lever, and return to hang.
Straight Body PullStraight Body PullStraight Body PullStraight Body Pull

The Support

A basic requirement for ring work is to obtain a solid, proper support in which your arms are straight, hips open, and chest up. The rings should be turned out between 15 and 45 degrees so that the insides of your elbows are facing forward. Before moving on to presses, rolls, or any other support work, you should be able to hold this position for a minimum of 15 seconds with little to no movement.

Ring Support Ring Support, Rings Turned Out
OK Better


Start with the rings at about waist height. Perform push-ups on the rings. As strength increases, lower the rings until they are just above the floor; then, to make them more challenging, you can elevate your feet a little. To further increase difficulty, lean forward a little bit while you do the push-ups so that at the bottom of the push-up your hands are right next to your hips.
Ring Push UpRing Push UpRing Push UpRing Push Up


Perform dips just as you would on the parallel bars. At first, do whatever it takes to get the dips done. As your support gets stronger, work toward doing the dips with the rings turned out (palms forward) in the proper support position described above.

Ring Dip Ring Dip, Rings Turned Out
Standard Turned Out


See issue Parallette Training - Volume 1 for progressions for an L-sit. The progressions on parallettes and rings are the same. The only stipulation on rings is that the arms and shoulders in the ring support should not change as you lift into the L-sit. Rings should still be turned out, and your head and chest up.

Hollow body training

Set up matting for this exercise. Set the rings a couple inches above the mat. Start in a push-up position, with hands on the rings and feet on the floor. Push the rings forward, maintaining a hollow body position, then pull back to a push-up position. Once this sequence is developed, you can continue past the push-up position and push the rings back toward your hips to work the planche position as well. Once some strength in the planche position has been developed, you can try, from the planche position, to push the rings out to the side a little and allow your body to drop down between your hands to train the maltese. Arms should be kept straight throughout this sequence. If you have to bend your arms to complete a motion, then start over and go only as far as you can while maintaining straight arms.
Hollow Body TrainingHollow Body TrainingHollow Body Training

Forward roll to inverted hang

From an L-sit in support, lift your hips up behind you and bend your arms. Try to lift your hips up over your head. Once completely inverted, roll forward and let the rings turn out and you will end up in a piked inverted hang. In starting and teaching this skill, be sure to lift your hips at the beginning and do not dive your chest forward. This is a very common mistake and can lead to injury. It should be a very controlled lifting motion. The roll only occurs once the hips are directly above the head. If you can not reach this position, do not try to roll out just lower your hips and return to support. When first learning the skill, be sure to use a spotter.
Forward Roll on RingsForward Roll on RingsForward Roll on RingsForward Roll on Rings

Shoulder stand

Initiate a press to shoulder stand just like you did for the forward roll: start in an L-sit and lift your hips until they are directly over your head, but, now, instead of rolling forward, straddle and lift your legs until they hit the cables. Use the cables for stability and get comfortable in this position. If you fall too far forward, just roll out. Once you are stable upside down, you can bring your feet to the insides of the cables for minimal assistance, then bring your legs together and balance the shoulder stand free of the cables. Once you have a sense of the balance, try to press into the shoulder stand keeping your legs together throughout, then balance the shoulder stand, then lower back to support.
Shoulder Stand on RingsShoulder Stand on RingsShoulder Stand on RingsShoulder Stand on RingsShoulder Stand on Rings

Support swings

While maintaining a good support position, swing forward and backward. At first, it will be very difficult to maintain stability. Keep the rings turned out and try to keep your body straight. Resist the temptation to lift your toes and pike the hips in the front swing. Swing with your whole body straight. This exercise will greatly stabilize your support and build strength.
Support Swing on RingsSupport Swing on RingsSupport Swing on RingsSupport Swing on Rings

Bent-arm press to handstand

A bent-arm press to handstand is similar in technique to the press to shoulder stand. Start in an L-sit, and then lift your hips to the back and push the rings forward. When your hips are as close to directly above your shoulders as you can get them, straddle and lift your legs to the cables. Push your arms straight to reach a handstand. Once you have reached a handstand, work on stabilization and moving your feet to the insides of the cables. Try to then turn the rings out. The rings should be parallel with each other. Once this position is stable, try to hold the handstand free of the cables. Again, if you fall forward, simply roll out. As your press to handstand gets stronger, work toward performing the press with straight arms.
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A muscle up is simply a combination of a pull-up and a dip, with the addition of a nasty little transition. A proper false grip and technique are essential to achieving the muscle up. For the false grip, place your hands in the position that they will be in when you reach the support. This means that your palms need to be on top of the inside of the rings from the beginning. To learn the false grip, place the rings at a bit below shoulder height. Open your hand completely and place the ring so it runs from the crook of your thumb to the opposite heel of your hand. Then grasp the ring and lower yourself down to hang from it. Once you have a good sense of the grip and can hang with both hands in false grips you can begin working toward the muscle-up. Start with the rings low so you can use your legs to assist yourself through the motion. When you are below the rings in the hang, you will want to have your legs a little bit in front of you. This will allow you to rotate over the rings through the transition. Start the pull and roll your shoulders over your hands, keeping your hands and elbows close to your body. Your elbows should travel in curves that are parallel with each other; they should not point outward at all. Once your shoulders are up over your hands, push up to support. Once you have a sense of the motion, try to do it without the leg assist. Think about pulling aggressively, getting through the transition quickly. As your muscle-up develops, you will find yourself able to hop through the transition.
False GripFalse Grip

Muscle UpMuscle UpMuscle UpMuscle Up

Backward roll to support

A backward roll to support combines kinesthetic awareness, inversion, and great strength demands. Start from a hang with a false grip, pull your legs up and forward, roll over backward and push into a support. The keys to this skill are similar to those for a muscle-up: keep a good false grip, and keep the rings close to your body.
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Kip to support

Start in a straight-body inverted hang. Pike down, and then quickly kick upward. Once your body has fully extended, sit up and try to catch up to your legs while pushing down on the rings. As you roll forward, keep pressure on the rings and finish in a support. The kipping motion can be practiced on a mat. Begin by lying on your back in a pike with your hands pointed toward the ceiling. Your weight should be on your upper back and shoulders. Kick your legs up and extend, then snap forward. There will be a moment when you are completely off the ground. Try to reach back with your hands and catch yourself in a rear support before your feet hit the ground.
Kipl to Support on RingsKipl to Support on RingsKipl to Support on RingsKipl to Support on RingsKipl to Support on Rings

By Roger Harrell.

Related Events:

Related Skills:

Muscle up
Press to handstand/shoulderstand
Support technique
Back lever
Backwards roll to L support
Front lever