Unique Weighted Ring Dips For Massive Upper Body Size
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
Ring dips are some of the most effective upper body strength and mass builders there are. Besides crushing the chest, triceps, and shoulders, the core and shoulder stabilizers must work overtime to maintain motor control and handle the instability created from the rings. Once you’ve mastered bodyweight variations of ring dips and learn the proper mechanics you’ll gradually want to increase the load and intensity.
Although most individuals load ring dips with a weight belt (by attaching weights to the end of it), I’ve found that both the dorsiflexion loading and knee flexion loading protocols are even more effective. That’s because these two loading methods help improve full body tension, spinal rigidity, and enhanced body mechanics as discussed in several of my articles from earlier in the year.
The Ultimate Continuous Drop Set Protocol
However, the dorsiflexion loading and knee flexion loading protocols provide further benefits for hypertrophy goals primarily because the lifter can seamlessly transition into a drop set by simply releasing the weight from the feet and ankles. Essentially this becomes a continuous drop set as it can be accomplished without having to take any break or rest period between load changes.
Performing drop sets with weighted ring dips is one of the most brutal yet effective upper body strength training protocols you’ll ever use as it takes advantage of all three primary mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy including muscle damage, mechanical tension, and metabolic stress.
Here’s an example of what it would look like using the dorsiflexion loading method. The same protocol can also be accomplished with knee flexion loading provided you have a spotter.
If you’re looking for another challenging dip variation try performing ring dips with the hanging band technique. This is done by hanging kettlebells from bands then attaching them to the your lower legs using the knee-flexion loading protocol.
The combination of the hanging bands in conjunction with the unstable rings produces extreme instability that the lifter must learn to control by keeping the core tight and shoulders centrated/packed throughout the set. In addition, this loading method requires the lifter to use approximately 90 degree mechanics at the elbow joint as anything but this will destabilize the shoulder joint making the movement feel impossible to control.
As an added bonus, expect to feel your hamstrings get pulverized from the knee flexion loading as they’ll be firing fiercely to keep the weight from dropping. This lower leg activation also helps produce full body tension and irradiation through concurrent activation potentiation. In simple terms it helps reduce energy leaks up the kinetic chain by teaching the lifter to stay tight while employing smooth and crisp mechanics.
If you’re unfamiliar with knee-flexion loading I recommend starting off with more stable loading methods (rather than the HBT protocol). This can be done by using either a dumbbell between the legs or chains on top of the legs as demonstrated by one of my NFL athletes Jarius Wynn.
Once you’ve mastered your mechanics on the both the dorsiflexion loading and knee flexion loading try performing dips with a barbell. This requires the strictest mechanics as anything less will cause the bar to tilt in an uncontrollable fashion.
To reiterate, each of these variations can incorporate the continuous drop set technique previously described by simply dumping the weight off the legs and continuing the set with bodyweight until no further reps with proper form can be performed.
Bands: A Simple Semi-Alternative
If you're uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the dorsiflexion or knee flexion loading methods but are still looking for a unique dip method that allows smooth transitions into drop set protocols you can employ band resistance on any dip variation including ring dips.
The drop set will involve a very brief (2-3 second) break to transition to bodyweight however it's still a solid option especially since it also happens to provide insane constant tension to the targeted musculature.
Due to the extreme intensity of this protocol I recommend only performing the last set of your weighted dips with this technique as anymore could overtrain the nervous system and muscle tissue. I typically suggest using a load that allows the completion of 5-8 perfect weighted reps before dropping to bodyweight.