Coach’s Corner: The Ring Dip
The ring dip begins by having the athlete stand directly between to the two rings and then grabbing the ring in the middle of their palm. Once the grip is set the athlete then jumps to support, the top portion of the movement while maintaining a hollow rock position. The athlete then lowers their body until the anterior portion of their shoulder makes contact with the top-most portion of the ring, and then presses back out to full extension of the arm, returning to the support position. The strict ring dip should be mastered before moving onto kipping. Regardless of the scaling option or progressions selected, there are a few fundamentals that apply to every variation.
- External rotation of the shoulders – athletes should seek to rotate their palms forward throughout the movement.
- Hollow-body position throughout the full range of motion (ROM).
- Elbows stay tight to the body and don’t flare out to the side through full range of motion.
Push-ups. The athlete must demonstrate a reasonable capacity (20+ push-ups) with perfect form. The athlete must also be able to maintain control both at support (top of the dip) and in the bottom portion of the dip, holding both positions with stability.
The Gold Standard
- Rings separated one cubit apart (a cubit is the distance from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow)
- At the top, rings are externally rotated with the arms at full extension
- Hollow rock position maintained (ribcage down, abs engaged, feet and knees together and just in front of the body)
- The body is lowered from full extension until the anterior deltoid makes contact with the ring, ring maintained in a neutral position.
- Bodyweight is then pressed from the bottom position back to support.
Athletes who do cannot safely support themselves at the top or bottom of the ring dip should scale the movement when it is being performed for time or for high volume.
Scaling Option 1: Assisted ring dips
Using bands the athlete can simulate the dipping motion required for unassisted ring dip. Band assisted ring dips are one of the more common options in an affiliate, however keep in mind that the band will assist the athlete at the most challenging point (the bottom of the dip) and then will become more difficult throughout the rep as the tension in the band is reduced. Ensure the fundamentals are still adhered to.
Scaling Option 2: The Bench Dip
Using a flat bench, the athlete begins seated on a bench with their hands placed directly outside the hips. The athlete will extend their legs out in front of them and then press through their arms to start at full extension of the arms. The athlete will then lower themselves, keeping their back in close proximity to the bench, until they reach a) the floor or b) a raised target. Once the athlete reaches the bottom of the movement they will then press back up to full extension of the arm.
Scaling Option 3: Push Ups
Push ups are a great starting point for most athletes who are looking to either: a) get their first ring dip, or b) are looking to improve their ring dip capacity. It is crucial that the athlete focuses on the nuances of the movement including the hollow body position and full range of motion, all while maintaining control throughout the movement.
Progressions and Exercises
There are lots of way to manipulate the difficulty of the scaling options listed above to help get an athlete to their first ring dip. Additionally, a logical progression of the options below will also help build the requisite strength for a ring dip, which will also serve as the foundation for more advanced movements like the muscle up. Additionally, programming midline work such as hollow-rocks will be tremendously helpful. As a coach, you will ultimately program the progression so we’ve omitted specifics like sets, reps, etc..
Progression Exercise 1: Ring Dip Holds & Dip Negatives
- The athlete begins by jumping themselves up to support so that their arms are extended and the rings are externally rotated.
- The athlete then holds themselves for as long as possible in the correct position. You can also prescribe a combination of both – e.g. hold for 5 seconds, lower for 5 seconds.
- If negatives are prescribed, the athlete needs to be able to maintain control throughout the descent and must be able to perform the full ROM.
- If control and ROM aren’t possible, start with holds and gradually progress to negatives. Be cognizant of total volume when prescribing these – they will make the athlete sore!
Progression Exercise 2: Bench Press
Developing a rock solid ring dip can be assisted through the “meathead-favorite” bench press. The athlete should look to control the lowering of the barbell from full extension of the arm until it makes contact with the chest and then pressing back out to full extension. Remembering that the goal isn’t to load up the bar and bounce it off the chest to maximize weight, the goal is control and developing a strong, full ROM press.
Common Faults and Fixes
Fault 1: Not performing the full ROM
Simply put, this is a strength issue. Insist on full range of motion for all reps and gradually increase the volume and intensity.
The fix: Have the athlete practice holds at both support (top of the dip) and in the bottom to reinforce what the two positions should feel like and then have them practice a few reps with the intention of hitting both positions.
Fault 2: Internal shoulder rotation
This occurs when athletes who do not have the requisite strength or stability to perform a dip allow their elbows to flare out to the side.
The fix: athletes should focus on keeping their palms externally rotated and focus on sending their elbows back in the descent of the dip, not out to the side. This can also be a strength and stability issue, requiring the athlete to return to some progressions before attempting a full dip.
Fault 3: Loss of the hollow position
A common fault, especially in ring dip, is the tendency to allow the feet to hang behind the hands either with the legs crossed, knees bent, or some combination of both. The athlete then reaches their chest upward, internally rotating at the shoulder and extending at the thoracic. Athletes may be able to achieve more reps initially with this poor technique, but eventually they will plateau or become injured. Insist on a proper gymnastics style dip from the beginning.
The fix: Obey the hollow-rock position!