Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vegas Pro Straps vs. Rings

I have been asked the question a number of times: What is the difference between the Vegas Pro Straps and Rings? This usually comes from a hardcore crossfitter that has only seen the rings. I love this question because it lets me talk about first Crossfit (which I am personally obsessed with) and it lets me talk about functional fitness. Both Vegas Pro Straps and Rings implement dynamic plane exercises. The handles move creating an unstable point requiring your stabilizing neuromuscular system to be activated. Stabilizer muscles.

First let me start with my personal experience and opinion. If I had to choose one piece of equipment to work out with for the rest of my life I would choose the Vegas Pro Straps hands down. This is after surveying my home gym which is actually very well equipped. Of course I would have a hard time departing from my barbell weight set and kettlebells. Of course body weight workouts are sufficient to maintain a good level of fitness alone but I like a little extra intensity. The reason I would choose the straps is that I am able to do dynamic plane pushups, dips, and pull ups. These three workouts alone will increase overall functional strength and ability. Body weight exercises are the ultimate in my book and the straps amplify them.

Now Rings. I have a set of rings and I must say they are awesome! I bought a really nice set from Rogue Fitness. These are a textured steel with a 1.5" webbing strap with cam buckle for adjustment. The rings are great for Muscle ups (an exercise that in essence start with a pull up and transition into a dip in one fluid motion). Muscle ups are an awesome exercise that develop a very high level functional skill set. My personal use of the rings is limited to this exercise alone. And honestly they look really cool but that isn't all that functional now is it?

And I'll explain why.

Let me say this. I recommend that all crossfitters, serious about their sport, have rings as part of their garage gym or have access to them via their local crossfit gym. Muscle ups are an integral part of the program. That being said, most people would gain much more overall by having a set a Vegas Pro Straps in their home or in their gym.

Straps vs. Rings

The Vegas Pro Straps utilize a straight padded handle at the end of a webbing strap with an adjustment buckle. There is also a removable foot strap for ab exercises. The point of attachment requires only a quick clip of a carabiner. The adjustment of the height of the handles is one to one, meaning if you pull the slack one foot the handle rises one foot. The adjustment is very quick and very simple.

The Rings are on a single loop of webbing that requires threading through the cam buckle to attach. The adjustment requires you to hold the strap in place and is a two to one system, meaning if you pull the slack two feet the ring rises one foot which can take a while to adjust and takes some practice.


The same exercises can technically be performed on both the Vegas Pro Straps and the Rings (with the exception of the ab straps attachment available with the Vegas Pro Straps system).
There does need to be some discussion on this matter.
First and foremost the rings are superior to performing Muscle ups as there is a certain technique involved which involves a "false grip" and the circular design of the ring accommodates this very well. (please visit crossfit.com for more details if interested or search youtube). Of note, muscle ups can be performed on the Vegas Pro Straps.

Other than muscle ups the Vegas Pro Straps are superior in all other exercises. Push ups being the most obvious. The Rings are steel and in a circular form that unfortunately put significant pressure on the ulnar nerve on the palm of the hand as it passes through Guyon's Canal or hook of hamate (anatomy talk, sorry I'm a physician). Simply put it is very uncomfortable and is potentially damaging. This pressure is significant and can be limiting to your workout.

The Vegas Pro Straps have a very comfortable padded handle that does not place excessive pressure over this nerve. Dips can also be performed comfortably and safely.
The nature of the ring also places significant pressure over the forearm where the top of the ring hits which will not cause any damage but it is uncomfortable.
The Vegas Pro Straps have a flat design where the strap contacts the arm reducing the pressure and discomfort.

The Vegas Pro Straps handle also freely rotates on the strap reducing palm friction (no blisters).
Rings do not rotate and will give you blisters with most exercises.

Point of attachment.

This is a point to consider for all people. The straps can be attached to a point as low as a doorway pull up bar or as high as rafters in a high ceiling. All exercises can be completed with comfort and full range of motion in your home. I have a pair of straps mounted on a doorway pull up bar upstairs and a set mounted in my basement gym using ceiling anchors.

Rings must be attached for best use (muscle-ups) at least ten-eleven feet above the ground allowing a full pull up and then a dip on top of it. I have mine attached under my deck in the back yard and the high point is nine feet off the ground and I have to fully bend my knees when starting my muscle up to avoid hitting the ground and my head almost touches the underside of the deck (this is not ideal).

Vegas Pro Straps and Rings are both great pieces of equipment when used for their ideal exercises.

Vegas Pro Straps are best for push ups, dips, pull ups, and all other suspension training exercises.
Rings are best for muscle ups.

Vegas Pro Straps can be mounted in your home on a doorway pullup bar, ceiling anchors, rafter, etc.
Rings need to be mounted high 10-11 feet. And are laborious to adjust for different exercises.

Vegas Pro Straps can be instantly mounted and removed with the clip of a carabiner.
Rings require the threading of a cam buckle for mounting with quick removal as cam buckles are quick to un-thread.

Vegas Pro Straps can be micro adjusted quickly and with ease.
Rings can also be micro adjusted but it requires more effort and time.

These two tools are different and in my opinion have different uses. Is one better than the other? That depends on what you want to do. I have both. I started with the Vegas Pro Straps and as I expanded my home gym I purchased some Rings for variety.
I hope this answers the question.

1 comment:

Jasons girls said...

Jacob, long time since we worked together at St. Lukes. I am using the straps you gave me, I think there the original design, luv them. I have them in the master BDR office nook and use them almost every night. Was wondering if you still had or were willing to let me purchase the "premium set" at cost. We had talked about it 2 yrs ago, I hope there still not in your car, ha, ha. Anyway let me know, good to see you on video, how's the wife, kids and Columbia? Take care, Jason Rolfe (now PGY 2 in anesthesia, VCU Richmond, Va.)