Ring Dips – Love ’em!

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This post is for Mark Collins - A physio in Toukley, Canton beach Physiotherapy. Mark is a Crossfit enthusiast...just like me!

Ring Dips - What are they?

Do you remember the old tricep dips that you did against your desk or chair? Or even dips on a stand at the gym? Ring dips are like that only better.

From a physiotherapy point of view, Ring Dips are superior because they require you to control your shoulder and use more muscles to control your whole body. But with complexity comes risk. Because the rings move, you can strain your shoulders more easily. But because the rings move, you can also protect your shoulders compared to the standard tricep dip.

This girl looks like she is in danger of a shoulder injury

Why Physios are wary of Tricep Dips (including Ring Dips)

Basically it is human nature to push yourself. If you have psyched yourself up to even do exercise, you are likely to try hard at doing it, right? What happens when you fatigue is that you start doing movements that are not optimal. With Dips, the most common problem is round the shoulders and then allow the humeral head to translate in the socket...in other words, the arm bone slides forward when it should stay still. This causes a lot of strain on your cartilage (labrum), the biceps tendon and the rotator cuff. Keep doing dips the wrong way and it will start to hurt.

There are quite a number of ways that you can try to keep your shoulder joint in it's socket - I tell my patients to either "create space" in the shoulder - like injecting it with helium...this tricks the brain into using your muscles differently. The other is to feel it lock into the back of the socket - but be careful as you can overdo it too. The best is to get someone like your physio or a gymnastics-trained trainer to help you.

Using a Resistance Band is a great way to protect your shoulders

What If I Can't Do One??!!

Like pullups, you can use a resistance band to help you keep good form and develop the strength you need to go on to do them unassisted. Just tie the band to one ring, hold the other end in your hand and then jump and kneel onto the band and you are good to go!

What do Pullups + Ring Dips Equal?

Once you can master these 2 exercises, you can progress to muscle ups!

Get training!

I would like to hear your tricks and advice on how you do Ring Dips...just comment below. Thanks!

6 Responses

  1. Hi Antony,

    Great post. I is great to see another physio who knows how to exercise at a high level and is not scared to give his clients exercises other than theraband.

    I have found that I got good at ring dips by building a foundation on the parallel bar dips. I performed these before every workout until I had enough base strength to try the rings. The key for me is to do them 5-6 days a week and add a rep or two as my strength gradually increased.


    1. Thanks Mark. Yeah, I believe in the whole range of exercises that people need – from the isolation of small stabilising muscles where necessary and appropriate right up through to elite high level activities – again where appropriate.

      The parallel dip bars are good but i am still wary for the humeral head control. The fact that you can’t move your hands means that any shoulder tightness/decreased range of motion will strain the shoulder – at least the rings allow movement to compensate for this…if I had to choose, I would choose ring dips with a resistance band over parallel bar with resistance band!

      Keep them up – you are doing well! You going to compete in the Open Crossfit event?

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  4. Jordan Shinn

    Nice post, Anotony.

    I love ring dips! They’re a great way to build upper body mass, improve muscular coordination, and increase gymnastics skill and strength.

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