Ring rows


Let’s talk ring rows.

Now wait…before you say ‘no thanks, I’m pretty much a ninja at doing ring rows.  I can do like 75 in a row unbroken,’ you’re likely in need of having this problem addressed!

I love them because they’re great if you do them right and care about the quality of the movement.  I hate them when they’re not done right and the athlete doesn’t care about the quality of the movement.  This is yet another attempt to get through to more people about approaching this movement appropriately.

Let me begin by explaining WHY I’m writing this:  I use ring rows mostly as a tool to progress people to eventually getting pull-ups.  My priorities when I coach and write the workouts for CFD is as follows:


1.  Keep people safe.

2.  Try to elicit the appropriate stimulus that is intended for that day’s program design (i.e.:  give everyone an appropriate workout) without sacrificing priority #1.

3.  Have fun without sacrificing priority #1 or #2. 

That’s right, I care more about safely and effectiveness of my facility than I do about having fun.  That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your training, but not at the expense of safety or effectiveness.  Sorry-not-sorry, but it’s the way I am.  After all, we spend 2-3% of our life training, so let’s make use of our time!

With that said, in order to offer my athletes a road to balanced fitness, we need to work on a lot of factors, and upper-body pulling strength is high on that priority list for everyone (really, it’s trying to balance your UB pulling and pushing strength, but I digress; that’s a topic that deserves another blog entirely).

So, in order to work on upper-body pulling strength and help people attain the goal of getting a ‘no-shit-everyone-look-at-me-I-just-did-a-pullup!’ (and doing it safely), we have to do a lot of strict pulling work, and we DO.  I’ve already re-posted some great blogs written by other facilities regarding pull-ups, kipping pull-ups, and some great insights to applying those movements appropriately to different athletes.

There are a lot of factors involved regarding getting stronger in any movement, and I’ll briefly list some of them here (off the top of my head):


1.  Adequate recovery between sessions (to include sleeping and tissue recovery—ART, massage, myofacial release, etc.)

2.  Adequate fueling/nutrition between sessions.

3.  Getting the appropriate amount of volume with a session (load, sets, reps, time under tension, etc)

4.  Eliciting the appropriate response with a given movement/workout etc.

Let me get back on track about the ring row:  the bottom line is that if you think they’re easy, you’re not doing them right!  The point of a ring row is to EVENTUALLY get to a pull-up, not to be the ring row champion of the world.  Anyone can add volume of ring rows to a workout by simply positioning your body differently or half-assing your pull and/or range of motion of the movement.  The first-place finisher is the LAST-place finisher in my book when it comes to people ripping out 1000 ring rows for time.  The point of the movement should be QUALITY over QUANTITY!

Long story short, if you’re doing ring rows to get to pull-ups (which includes about everyone doing ring rows in classes), they need to be:


-full range of motion

-and f***ing HARD!


If you’re unfamiliar or need a refresher on how to appropriately do ring rows (or want some additional applications of the movement), here is a short video of Carl Paoli talking about them.

Remember why we’re here, everyone:  it’s to get better at stuff—plain and simple.  Treat your sessions in CFD as your chance to tune up your engine and get better at everything.  If you treat all your training sessions like a race or like you’re just ‘checking the block,’ you can deal with being stagnant until you change your mindset.  Personally, I’m a fan of progress and payoff when it comes to doing hard work!

RLTW <1>

–Coach Phil