Getting Familiar With The Strict Muscle Up: Dip

In this post, we will cover the final phase of the strict muscle up - the dip. Specifically, how to do it correctly and the best exercises to build strength.

What is the dip?

In this series of posts, we've been talking about the four phases of the muscle up; the grip, pull, transition and dip, collectively forming the muscle up. The final phase is the dip, which is the press from the “catch” position to the locked out position above the rings. Not only is the dip a requirement to complete a full muscle up, but its development is crucial to building the necessary strength for the rest of the muscle up. Training the dip with proper form will give you the strength to press out when you finally land over the top of the rings and it will likely be the reason you got there in the first place!

How to perform a dip correctly

First, I want to stress that using correct form is incredibly important when building strength for the dip. Use low reps (1-2 reps at a time is perfectly fine to start!) and assistance as needed while developing the strength in the movement.

Here are the steps for doing a dip properly:

  1. Begin at the top of the rings with elbows locked out, shoulders depressed (away from your ears) and hands pinned to your sides. Keep your feet pressed together and your body in a hollow body position.
  2. Lower your body straight downward over the rings. Do not let your shoulders rise up into your ears! You must continue depressing your shoulders and shoulder blades down and keep them locked in place. 
  3. You will lower yourself all the way until your shoulders reach the rings. If it is difficult for you to get your shoulders to the rings, see my "pro tip" below about spending time in that position in order to build strength.
  4. To dip out, drive your hands down straightening your arms and returning to the exact same place you started on top of the rings.

Again, work with your best form as that is how you will use the most muscles and help keep you from getting injured. Using bands or assistance with your feet touching the ground or a box will often lead to better form!

Pro tip

One of my favorite ways for strengthening my own dip is to spend time in the top and bottom support positions. Holds don't need to be very long; 3-5 seconds of a super tight hold is much better than 15-20 seconds of a sloppy hold. These essentially are your beginning, middle and ending positions of the dip. If you have strength in these positions, it's simple to connect the two for the full dip movement. I like to warm up each "pressing" session with at least 2-3 sets of 5-10 second holds in each position before doing any dips. Do this a couple of times a week and I promise you'll start seeing improvements on your dips.

Common problems with the dip

#1. Catching too deep

Many times people will catch "too deep" which is to say that they really didn't press their shoulders ONTO the rings, but instead slipped them between. The result is a very low beginning press position that is difficult to press out of. The "fix" to this problem is actually to work on the transition and to practice transitioning to a higher "catch" position.

#2. Not strong enough

It is the most frustrating thing to see an athlete get stuck in the bottom of the dip after successfully getting on top of the rings. Assuming they didn't land in a terribly low position and still can't press out (see problem #1 above), they likely just don't have the chest strength yet and need to work on their dip strength. The fix to this problem is to do the drills below and get stronger! 

Best drills to develop “dip” strength

The rings are an awesome way to build chest and arm strength for muscle ups or whatever else you want to be strong for. Use lower reps to begin with and bands and toe assistance to ensure quality movement.

Ring push ups on False Grips
Ring push ups are a great place to start when building chest and “pressing” strength on the rings.

Top and bottom support position holds on False Grips
Top and bottom support position holds are an excellent way to begin building dip strength. Squeeze hard and hold these positions tightly for 10-20 seconds max.

Banded ring dips on False Grips
Once we’ve developed an understanding of the top and bottom positions, we can begin practicing connecting them via band assistance. Strive to get 5-8 reps of  banded dips comfortably before taking them away. 

Ring dips
Once an athlete can do 8-10 banded dips with good form, they can move on to dips with no band in small sets. Eventually, dips can be practiced on high rings and long straps as well. 

Ready to get started? Our False Grips Muscle Up Program is also a great resource for developing the grip (and everything else) to help you get your first muscle up. What are you waiting for? Get your False Grips and start working toward your strict muscle up today!