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Muscle Up Series | Part 2

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Welcome to Part 2 of our Muscle up series!

Last blog,  we looked at ways we can increase our pulling strength in order to gain the baseline level of strength needed for the almighty muscle up.  In this blog, we are going to go through the other half of the movement — which is just, if not, more important: The ring dip.

There are many exercises in functional fitness that can be frustrating and testing for all kinds of athletes. One of them being the dreaded ring dip.

In order for a muscle up to be complete, we must have the ability to not only pull-up, but also press our body weight.

Ring dips are challenging for multiple reasons. The fact that the rings as an instrument alone aren’t completely stable, makes the movement difficult, as you need to work to stabilise the rings before even completing the dip portion.

Scenario: Have you ever look at the workout of the day, seen that ring dips are scheduled in the program, and think to yourself

“Ring Dips? Well, I’m skipping class!”

If this is you — don’t give up!

Instead, continue reading the following steps on how you can learn many different progressions that can assist you to either improving or simply getting your very first ring dip!

Before performing any movement, ask yourself a few questions to figure out if the dip will be an appropriate  movement for you!

  • Are your shoulders and elbows pain free?
  • Are you able to do full range push-ups? (Chest to floor)
  • Do you have any pre or past injuries which would make this movement painful or difficult to complete?

If you can safely see yourself moving forward towards your first ring dip, you can follow through with the following.

Static Holds

A hold can be performed on either gymnastics rings, or on two plyometric boxes.  If a static hold is something which you find quite difficult, start with assisted holds, such as one foot on the floor before trying to hold your body weight freely. When attempting a static hold on gymnastic rings, have a training partner with you to slightly hold the rings at your side while you hold in a static position to get yourself comfortable with holding yourself up for the first time. 

Coach recommendation: Before you jump straight on the rings, we recommend that you should be able to hold for 15-30 seconds on the boxes, before attempting to hold on gymnastic rings.

Stationary Dips/ Box Dips

Before you move forward with the ring dip, it is advised to start with a more stable movement — like the stationary dip.  A stationary dip can be done by using either stationary dip bars or two plyometric boxes. The flat surface of the plyometric boxes allows you to still work through the same range of motion, in which is required for the ring or stationary bar, without needing the strength required to control your balance on a more difficult object surface.

Coach recommendation: We recommend being able to complete 8-10 unassisted stationary dips before  attempting a ring dip.

Tempo Dips

Building time under tension within dips can help build the needed strength for the full range of motion required for the ring dip. Make sure that you adhere to the tempo for both the eccentric and concentric portion of the movements.

A good tempo to start with is @3111. Three seconds on the way down 1 second hold at the bottom of the dip 1 second up and 1 to reset. You can change the tempo to increase the amount of time under tension, until you feel stable enough to begin using a simple tempo of @1111 with a significant amount of strength.

Band-Assisted Ring-Dips

Bands are a fantastic way to see progression made over a certain movement — especially that of a ring dip. After gaining enough strength to transfer to the rings, the bands can be of some assistance when it comes to stability. As you get more comfortable completing quite a high number of reps, with a certain resistance you can continue to work your way down until no band is needed at all!

Tips to remember!!

Form first – The better your form is, the easier each rep will be. The best way to perform each ring dip is to keep the rings close to your body, push your chest forward, and keep your elbows back while you lower down for each rep. Your biceps must contact with the rings for the rep to count.

Scale appropriately – Just like many other exercises, not everyone will be able to Rx straight away. If you’re having trouble with the movement, then scale the exercise. Start off doing dips on a bench, then move onto bar dips when your confidence builds. Once your bar dips are at a solid stage, then try ring dips using resistance bands. Everyone starts somewhere, so enjoy the journey and watch yourself grow!

Practice your holds– It can take a little while to get used to using gymnastics rings. Therefore, it is a good idea to practice your holds as often as possible. Performing static holds for 30 seconds to a minute is a great way to not only work on your stabiliser muscles, but also to get you familiar with using rings. If 30 second holds seems like too long, segment your time into 3 sets of 10 second holds until you feel more comfortable and confident.

Improve Your Mobility – Is it your lack of strength or your lack of mobility within the shoulders that seems to be making ring dips tough? If  your shoulders are feeling rigid, spend 5-10 minutes working on some upper body mobility before your sessions to improve your shoulder position.

Try, and then try again! – Perseverance is everything when it comes to succeeding. Everyone will always have something they find to achieve a little harder than others. The important thing is not to give up.

With time, practice and a bit of perseverance, every exercise can be mastered.

Look out for my next blog where we will be going through the skill component of the muscle up, the transition!