Strength Training for Yogis: Dips for Upper Body Stability

Support your yoga practice by incorporating ring and bar dips into your training for complete upper body strength.

Ring and bar dips are the next topic in our discussion on how to strengthen your yoga practice off the mat. These gymnastic movements strengthen almost every upper body muscle, from the triceps to the lats, and even down to the core. Dips also build on two exercises I’ve discussed in previous posts: push ups and supports.

When approaching a ring or bar dip, be mindful of positioning and set up. Dips are compound movements requiring strength not only to stabilize but also to move your entire bodyweight.

Position is Paramount

Setup for Ring Dip

Lower the rings so that the bottom portion of the ring is in line with the top of your hips. The width of the rings should be slightly wider than the shoulders.

Setup for Bar Dips

If it is not possible to raise or lower the bars, stand on a box so you can jump to a front support. The wider the bars are, the harder this will be. If possible, adjust the width of the bars to be slightly wider than the shoulders.

5 Points of Performance of Ring or Bar Dips:

  1. Starting in a support, lock out your elbows and tighten your core.
  2. Dip by leaning slightly forward, bending your elbows and lowering your body.
  3. Lower down until your shoulders break parallel with your elbows. Keep pressure in the rings.
  4. Rise up by keeping the rings in close and straightening the elbows.
  5. Come back to the support position.

Left photo: correct eccentric technique; Right photo: correct bottom position.

Incorrect form increases your chance of injury.

Left photo: incorrect eccentric technique; Right photo: incorrect top position.

It is easy to strain or pull a muscle in the chest or lats when working this functional movement, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t incorporate dips into your training. You just have to be smart and mindful about how to scale. Using a resistance band is the easiest and most effective option.

Banded dips are an effective option to build dip strength.

Left photo: banded set up; Right photo: fully supportd top position.

Bands provide the assistance you need to perform a full ring dip, regardless of your current strength level. Choose a band that allows you to perform full movement but also challenges and builds strength in this position. Exactly which band you choose will depend of the volume of dips in the workout.

3 Workouts to Build Your Ring Dips

Warm Up:

  • 100 jumping jacks
  • 5 sun salutations
  • 1 minute forearm plank hold
  • 5 sun salutations
  • 2x reverse plank

Workout #1

18 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible):

  • 50 single jump rope, 20 squats, 5 push ups, 5 ring dips

Workout #2

3 RFT (rounds for time):

  • 400 meter run
  • 21 back stepping lunges
  • 10 ring dips

Workout #3

  • 5×5 ring dip (with band)

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