Is your home gym growing? Are you looking to change up your workout routine by incorporating gymnastic rings training, but are at a bit of a loss on how to choose the right kind of rings for you?
Unfortunately, Googling the topic can send you down the rabbit hole of no return and leave you feeling more confused than when you started. How do you choose between metal, wood, or plastic rings?
Let’s clear up any confusion you may have about the different types of rings available and how to choose gymnastic rings that will fit your wants and needs.
Wooden vs Plastic vs Metal Gymnastic Rings: A Detailed Comparison
Gymnastic rings can vary in sizes, textures, and composition materials. The main focus we’ll be discussing is ring composition: Wood, plastic, and metal rings. Each type of ring has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. The ring you choose to compliment your workout routine will fully depend upon the type of activity you’ll be engaging in, the environment the rings will be used in, and the budget you’re working with. Let’s swing on in!
Here’s a quick summary for those who prefer it:
How Rings Measure Up: Wooden vs Plastic vs Metal Gymnastic Rings
|Wooden Rings||Plastic Rings||Metal Rings|
|Indoor / Outdoor||
Indoor + temporary outdoor
Wood gymnastic rings are usually the choice of ring connoisseurs and professional gymnasts. Wooden rings are the only rings used in competition and have several key advantages over metal and plastic rings. There are still drawbacks to the wooden standard too.
- Superior grip. Nothing matches the natural feeling of wood rings
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Retains chalk and increases grip, resulting in fewer calluses and blisters
- Absorbs sweat better than alternative materials
- Only ring material endorsed and used by Olympians
- Generally affordable
- Cannot store or leave outdoors: Water, intense sunlight, and/or extreme temperatures can rapidly warp and deteriorate wooden rings
- Cheaply made wooden rings can splinter over time
- Good sets can be expensive
Plastic gymnastic rings are the second most common ring you’ll find. Their durability, low cost, and mass availability make them a solid option for casual users.
But, like all rings and things, there are pitfalls as well. Most notably, plastic is slippery, especially in sweaty hands. Manufacturers often try to address this by texturing the rings, but these textures are often poor in comparison to the grip offered by wood.
- Extremely lightweight and portable
- Great for pushing exercises and beginner pulling exercises, like rows and standard grip pull-ups
- Durable: can withstand almost all types of environments and weather with no warping or deterioration
- Generally the cheapest options
- Come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and textures
- Decreased grip
- Do not absorb sweat or chalk and usually require taping for grip
- The texture is often unforgiving and may tug at skin causing blisters and tears
Metal gymnastic rings are the least common of the three options in gymnastic rings. Steel rings aren’t readily found inside gyms, but more generally seen in outdoor parks. They’re extremely resilient to weather and other environmental conditions when coated or finished (e.g., with a powder-coating or made with stainless steel).
That said, they’re generally more expensive than wood or plastic gymnastic rings, are more susceptible to chips and dents, and don’t have the best grips. Ultimately, for most people, I think the cons outweigh the pros with metal gymnastic rings and there aren’t many I would recommend.
- Cannot be beaten in durability
- Can be left outdoors indefinitely
- They usually look awesome
- The heavier weight makes them a little more stable for dips and push-ups
- Most don’t absorb sweat, thus becoming extremely hard to grip once the sweat starts rolling
- May require a substantial amount of chalk as they usually don’t hold it well
- May require taping for better grip
- Twice as heavy as wooden or plastic rings
- Portability may be limited due to weight
- Can chip or possibly rust if coating or finish is poor or compromised
Top Gymnastic Rings of Each Material
We’ve put in the hard work, sweat, and an occasionally torn callus to be able to give you our best of the best in wooden, plastic, and metal gymnastic rings. Here are our picks:
Rep’s Wooden Rings are made from Baltic birch yielding a smooth, strong surface with a great natural grip. In terms of pricing, they’re the best bang for your buck when compared to other wood gymnastic rings. Though they aren’t suitable for continuous outdoor use, they are our number one choice for a set of indoor rings.
They have numbered straps, the cam buckles are easy to adjust, and the unfinished texture feels great in the hands. The price is very competitive, and Rep’s customer service is top-notch if you have any issues. There’s not a lot wrong with these rings.
Other wooden gymnastic rings options include:
- Rogue Gymnastic Wood Rings
- Fringe Sport Competition Wood Gymnastic Rings
- PaceEarth Wooden Gymnastics Rings
Garage Fit’s plastic rings have everything you could ask for in a set of plastic rings. They’re textured for improved grip, durable, portable, suitable for indoor or outdoor use, and even meet Olympic standards for size and weight. Plus, they’re affordable and come in a variety of colors to complement any gym decor.
Their straps are marked for easy adjustments, however the markings are on the inside of the strap, which is a minor annoyance. Also, the texture is unforgiving and uncomfortable on the hands for the first week or so of use.
Other plastic gymnastic rings options include:
Rogue Gymnastic Rings
Rogue’s metal rings top our list in this category. The 1.25″ steel rings were one of the very first products manufactured by Rogue in 2006 and still sit high upon their sales list today. These powder-coated rings are great for outdoor use without worrying about corrosion or rot and will, with a bit of care, last as long as you do!
The black powder-coating provides a nice, natural texture that takes up some sweat and doesn’t get overly slippery when wet. It also holds chalk relatively well. That said, the coating is also susceptible to chipping if the rings get knocked about too much. Unfortunately, once they’re chipped too much they become expensive paperweights; mostly useless as gym rings.
Other metal gymnastic rings options include:
- Fringe Sport Steel Gymnastic Rings
- Evolutionize Power Gymnastic Rings
- American Barbell Steel Gymnastic Rings
Which Rings are Right for You?
So, which ring is the right ring for you? How do you choose between wood vs plastic gymnastics rings? Or should it be wood vs metal gymnastics rings?
|Rings Suitability Guide|
|Calisthenics and strength training?||
|Permanent gym equipment?||
|Mobile gym equipment?||
Let’s assume that you have an indoor gym, but might want to train outdoors on occasions where you will be utilizing your rings for beginner calisthenics and strength training and your budget is on the lower end. Cheap wooden rings or plastic gymnastic rings would best suit your situation.
Now, let’s say that you have an indoor gym where you’ll be using your gymnastic rings for calisthenics, strength, and Crossfit training and have a moderate budget. A good pair of wooden gymnastic rings would be the best fit for you.
Alright, let’s say that you’re setting up an outdoor training area for your rings, will be using these rings for calisthenics, strength, and CrossFit training and your budget is endless. High-quality metal rings would be best to bring your dream training ground to life!
As you can see, there are multiple factors that come into play when choosing the right set of rings for you: Your training ground, intended training purpose, and budget just to name a few. Taking the time to review and evaluate your situation prior to purchasing ANY home gym equipment is key to making a worthwhile purchase.
If we’re being completely honest, the best gymnastic rings are the ones that will be able to hold your body weight with ease, allow you to do the training you desire comfortably, and fit into your budget. Ring training is a GREAT way to increase strength, amp up your endurance, and build lean muscle. Choosing gymnastic rings that will best suit you, your workouts, and your gym isn’t always easy, but our goal is to help you find your ringer!