When we teach ring dips to someone who is new to them, we usually say 1 ring dip is like doing 3 standard dips. But it’s actually not nearly that simple. Just holding a ring support (as in the above pic) requires a good deal of midline stability, scapular strength, and shoulder stabilization. Once you’ve mastered a ring support, you still have to acquire stability in every part of that dip, from the top to the bottom and back up. The full ring dip also requires triceps strength.
What we commonly see when athletes have poor scapular strength and stability is their shoulders rise up into their ears, the rings shake throughout the movement, or worse the rings move away from the body. If their triceps are weak, we end up seeing the body transfer the work to the upper back and bend at the hips, resulting in an exaggerated asian bow. Or sometimes we see the palms turn behind you in an attempt to recruit secondary muscles (or because of internal rotation restriction), which puts your shoulders at risk for injury.
A few ways to counter all this is to properly progress your ring dips. Make sure the rings are shoulder width apart and the buckles are raised up away from the rings. I’ll start from the easiest and work my way up, while maintaining perfect midline, shoulder, and body positions:
-Bench dips with vertical torso and proper shoulder position (back and down)
-Parallette dips, then later with legs raised
-Matador (standard dips)
-Jump to ring support with rings at shoulder height
-Ring support with negative to a depth where you can maintain tension (goal is to get to full depth (shoulders below parallel)
-Ring dip positives, starting at full depth and pressing up to support. Jump down and repeat.
-Strict Ring dips
Some cues to remember through your dip:
1. Shoulders down, rings against your body, and palms facing your body at all times.
2. Midline tight, hollow position throughout (so not ramrod straight)
3. Head up, chest up.
4. Lift your chest before pressing out from the bottom.
5. Maintain tension through dip.
6. Try to set the rings up shoulder height so you have to keep your body in hollow (vs bent knees).
If you are using a band for your dips, you must use the red, purple, or yellow at most. Don’t rely on the bands to hold the rings close and don’t try to be a human slingshot and crash down in to the bottom in hopes of more momentum coming up. Be smart and stick to whichever band keeps your form intact. If you are doing all your sets unbroken on the band, go lighter.
Check out Carl Paoli’s dip below for a great example of a fantastic dip. Note the global flexion (ie hollow body position), upright chest, and perfect body control:
Power Clean 3-3-3
10 Ring Dips
**prefer unassisted negatives/positives to banded dips if possible**