Ring Push Ups Exercise Guide: How to, Benefits, and Alternatives

ring push ups
Sportsman using kettle bells when doing push-ups

Ring push ups challenge your core and stabilizer muscles more than traditional push ups. 

When training the upper body, fitness enthusiasts commonly incorporate exercises such as the push up and bench press. Research indicates that these exercises share similar kinematics and effectively engage the upper body muscles (1). Today, we’ll examine push ups with a twist – ring push ups and other advanced alternatives such as muscle ups. 

Building the primary movers and stabilizing muscles is important when training upper body muscles like your shoulders. Lifters do many exercises that target the shoulders and upper body muscles for size and aesthetics. 

However, danger comes with thinking that your chest, traps, and triceps can carry heavy weights just because they’re strong. If stabilizer muscles, like your rotator cuffs, are weak, they won’t be able to support that weight. As a result, you could end up with dislocations, ligaments, tendons, and rotator cuff tears.

Doing exercises like the ring push up tests the stability capacity of your rotator cuff and helps to strengthen it. This exercise generally works on your chest, shoulders, arms, and core muscles. This exercise guide shows you how to do them, more benefits of doing this routine, and other great alternatives that activate similar muscles.

Techniques and Muscles Worked

Ring push ups target your triceps, delts, pecs, obliques, and wrist flexors. While this routine primarily strengthens the chest, it’s also great for your core muscles. They’re a more advanced version of the regular bodyweight pushup.

To do a ring push up, you’ll need to set up a pair of rings at about waist level. Once you’re comfortable with this movement, you can alter the height of the rings to make things easier or more challenging. Here’s a step-by-step guide on doing the ring push up with proper form.

  1. Set up your rings below or at a height around your waist level.
  2. Get on your knees with your toes tucked and then grip the rings with your palms facing each other. 
  3. Extend your legs one at a time to get to the pushup position. Your legs should be straight, with only the balls of your feet touching the ground. Keep your elbows extended and your head neutral. This is your starting position.
  4. Slowly lower your chest and thighs to the ground by retracting your shoulder blades and unlocking your elbows. Your body should remain rigid and stop when your upper arms are parallel to the ground.
  5. Drive your palms downwards and extend your elbows to return to the starting position and complete the rep.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps. 


Ring push ups are great for your coordination and build strength in the stabilizing muscles of your shoulders. Are you still trying to decide if this exercise is worth the trouble? Here are six important benefits of ring push ups.

Greater Range of Motion

Regular push ups restrict your range of motion because your hands are on the floor when doing them. With ring push ups, the rings hang off the floor so you can go even deeper at the bottom part of this exercise. Research shows that training using more range of motion increases muscle size and strength (2).

Targets Forearms

Your forearms also play a greater role when doing ring push ups. Due to the instability, you’ll need them to support your wrist and keep a strong grip. This will also improve your grip strength and strengthen your wrist joint to help avoid injuries.

More Muscle Growth

Your muscles receive constant activation when doing ring push ups. Even at the top of the movement, when you lock out your arms, your shoulders, core, and chest muscles are active to stabilize your body. As a result, you get constant time under tension, which studies show you can use to increase muscle growth (3).

Carryover to Ring Dips and Bench Press

Ring push ups are a great way to train for ring dips, as they use the same muscles. The difference is that while with ring push ups, you support 60-80 % of your body weight, with ring dips, you support 100%, which makes it harder. Ring push ups also strengthen the stability around your shoulders and chest, and this can help to improve your bench pressing form.

More Comfortable for Joints

With ring push ups, your body will naturally adjust to a comfortable position on the rings. As a result, this exercise is more comfortable for joints like your wrist. With regular push ups, your wrists are in a 90-degree position with your weight bearing down on them, which can become uncomfortable over time. 

Prevents Shoulder Injuries

Building your shoulder muscles for only size can cause muscle imbalances and injuries. With ring push ups, you also strengthen and increase the stability of your shoulders, thus preventing injuries. 

Ring Push Ups Alternatives

Ring push ups are a great way to strengthen your upper body and improve balance and coordination. Below are more exercises that target similar muscles. You can also use these exercises to build your strength and improve your balance.

Muscle Ups

Muscle ups target the muscle groups in your shoulder, back, core, and arms. However, this routine is on a more advanced level than ring push ups. It’s best to start with ring push ups and then progress to this exercise as you get stronger. 

Ring Dips

Ring dips are also great for your shoulder stability and greater range of motion. However, they’re also advanced, as you’ll lift 100% of your body weight during this exercise. 


Generation Iron Burpee

Burpees are a full body workout and vastly improve your conditioning. As a plus, the only equipment you need is your bodyweight.


How effective are ring push ups?

Ring push ups activate your muscles better than regular push ups and are known to be very effective. They offer a greater range of motion and are more comfortable for your joints.

Do ring push ups build chest?

Yes, ring push ups target and build the muscles in your chest. Check the guide above for a complete breakdown of the muscles that this exercise activates.

Why are ring pushups harder?

Ring push ups require more stability than traditional push ups because you do them on suspended rings. 

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  1. Tillaar R. V. D. (2019). Comparison of Kinematics and Muscle Activation between Push-up and Bench Press. Sports medicine international open, 3(3), E74–E81. https://doi.org/10.1055/a-1001-2526 
  2. McMahon, G. E., Morse, C. I., Burden, A., Winwood, K., & Onambélé, G. L. (2014). Impact of range of motion during ecologically valid resistance training protocols on muscle size, subcutaneous fat, and strength. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 28(1), 245–255. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e318297143a 
  3. Diniz, R. C. R., Tourino, F. D., Lacerda, L. T., Martins-Costa, H. C., Lanza, M. B., Lima, F. V., & Chagas, M. H. (2022). Does the Muscle Action Duration Induce Different Regional Muscle Hypertrophy in Matched Resistance Training Protocols?. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 36(9), 2371–2380. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000003883
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.