Gymnastics is one of the most the most versatile and potent tools for developing strength and fitness. But its vastness and complexity have left its value almost entirely untapped by most of the fitness community. With CrossFit, however, we have a unique framework for exploiting its fitness potential for non-specialists. Rings are the apparatus that develops the most strength, with the least technical learning curve (and with low equipment requirements). A beginner can easily and safely learn a number of moves on his first day. Most CrossFitters are familiar with ring dips and muscleups, but that is just scratching the surface.
In this article, we will look at ways you can scale workouts to make them more accessible for beginners by using the rings. Other reasons to substitute ring exercises for different moves include the portability and versatility of rings. You can develop as much upper-body strength with a set of rings as you can with dumbbells or even a barbell, and the whole set fits in a small backpack and can weigh as little as three pounds.
This article is all about making changes to CrossFit workouts, so I should mention a few things about programming first. When you are modifying a workout, the main goal should be to preserve the stimulus of the workout. Substitute apples for apples. If heavy squats are called for, then running ten miles is not a good substitution. If no weights or other heavy objects are available, then single-leg squats, jumping exercises, or even sprinting are closer approximations and better temporary substitutes for squats. Secondly, when you are scaling down a workout, the goal is to eventually do the whole thing as prescribed. So the substitutions here are also designed to reinforce basic skills that are vital to success later on.