The CrossFit Catalyst Ring Dip Progression

When we say that CrossFit is ‘scaleable,’ what we mean is that you can modify the exercises so that anyone can do them, and still have a fantastic workout. We’re famous for our intensity, but helping people progress makes us the best in the fitness world. On the wall at the Park, you’ll see about a dozen green posters to help you decide how to best ‘scale’ each exercise in your workout.
CrossFit combines elements from many different disciplines: powerlifting, sprinting, calisthenics…and gymnastics. The word, ‘gymnastics’ is intimidating to some, but rest assured that we’re not going to ask you to do an Iron Cross on your first day.
The Ring Dip is much tougher than a typical dip, requiring balance and strength on all planes at once. While many can do multiple dips on boxes or bars, few master the Ring Dip right away.
First, strength: well use box dips (far right) to build up triceps, pectoral, and latissimus strength. Triceps extend the elbows, and do the majority of the work; however, when set up properly, the pectorals contract to start the movement. This means that the initiation of the movement should feel like a deep dumbbell bench press.
The second step is to increase the strength of the triceps and internal rotators to extend from a small angle. Because leverage is very limited at the bottom position of the Ring Dip, a lot of torque has to be generated to start your body moving upward.
Next, we transition that strength into three-dimensional balance. Many will find that holding the rings steady on three planes at once is challenging; for beginners, we’ll often reach between the straps above the ring, and grasp the ring on the OUTSIDE. This has the effect of automatically squeezing the rings into your sides, eliminating the need for stability on one plane. As the athlete learns to activate their latissimus dorsi on the descent, this scaling option can be removed.
A Ring Dip with heels up starts the transition to pressing out of the bottom (or ‘press to support,’ or ‘press to front support.’) The majority of the work should be done with the pectorals, which are great at pressing horizontally (bench press) but don’t help much vertically (shoulder press.) For that reason, we tell athletes to ‘look down’ to bring their chest closer to parallel with the floor. As the torso is lowered, the hands tuck into the armpits; the stretch reflex of the latissimus and pec major will hold you in midair. From there, it’s possible (hopefully) to press out to extension.
A proper ring dip will contain a small rocking motion; chest forward and down on the descent, with knees rocking forward on the press. This helps keep the pecs in play, but still lockout with a straight torso at the top.

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