How to progress the Dip
The dip is a classic gym movement that has been utilized to build both strength and those vanity shoulders, pecs, and triceps. The growth of CrossFit has re-popularized the dip, the ring dip, and the muscle up. But the dip is not as simple as it looks. It requires great strength, stability, and range of motion. Most people do not have the combination of all three, and that increases their risk of injury when performing this movement. So here are a few rules to follow and guidelines to performing your dip.
First, you need make sure you have adequate range of motion. Try a dip with full assistance. So while you are standing, you will use your legs to dip your body down to a full range of motion. This means 100% of your weight is in your legs and your arms are passively bending. Your elbows should be parallel to your shoulders at the bottom.
If you can comfortably achieve a full range of motion, then you’re good to go to train your dips. If not, then use this motion as a stretch, and work on stretching your chest, triceps, shoulders, and lats. Next you need to achieve top end stability.This means being able to support yourself on top of the bar comfortably without shaking or losing shoulder positioning. If you are uncomfortable here, then use assistance and perform static holds. As you get more comfortable and stronger, you can use less and less assistance.
During this process keep in mind that dips are a difficult movement. You need to build slowly to keep your shoulders and elbows safe. If you start to get achy joints, your tendons get cranky, or your muscles are just plain sore, then give them time to recover. One reason dips are difficult is because people no longer climb, support themselves on their hands, or rotate their shoulder in this range of motion in everyday life. By practicing dips you are reawakening range of motion, coordination, and strength you haven’t used in a long time. So be patient! Also remember that if you are learning to perform a dip, or ring dip, don’t do them in a WOD.
Note: No one is a clean slate so your body type just may not be able to safely perform a dip without incident. All the stars may be aligned but it won’t matter because anatomically you just aren’t able to do it safely. Cost vs Reward on this one. We can safely prescribe out exercises to allow you get a similar training effect safely.