Ring Dips vs Bar Dips (Is One Better For Strength?)


Ring Dips and Bar Dips are both excellent exercises for strengthening the triceps, shoulders, and chest. However, there are some key differences between the two exercises that may make one more suitable for certain individuals or training goals.

One of the main differences between ring dips and bar dips is the type of equipment used. Ring Dips are performed on gymnastic rings, which provide a more unstable surface and require more balance and control. This makes Ring Dips a more challenging exercise, particularly for beginners.

Bar Dips, on the other hand, are typically performed on parallel bars or a dip station, which provides a more stable surface and may be easier for some people to perform.

In this article, I’m going to go into detail on how to perform both exercises, including muscles worked and benefits. Then, I’ll compare the two to see which dip variation might be bested suited for a few common lifting goals.


Ring Dips


Ring Dips (1)

Equipment Needed

  • Gym Rings
  • Squat Rack or something else to safely hang your rings from*.

Muscles Worked

  • Chest
  • Shoulders (Anterior Delt)
  • Triceps

Step By Step Instructions

  • Set your rings up on your rack. This process will vary based on your rings. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
  • Set your rings just above waist height. This will allow enough room for your feet not to hit the ground while doing reps, but not so high you feel you have to jump up into your first rep.
  • Starting position is hands on rings, arms extended, knees slightly bent and feet crossed (crossing feet is optional but does help with unwanted swinging in my experience).
  • Descend down by bending the elbows and slightly leaning forward.
  • Lower yourself under control until the triceps become parallel with the ground and then drive yourself back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points

*Need some creative options for hanging your gym rings? Here are 5 ways to hang gym rings at home.

The biggest mistake I see with dips is a poor range of motion. If someone is struggling to be able to do reps, the easiest solution is to simply not lower yourself into a full rep, but this is incorrect. If a lifter cannot perform a full rep they should switch to one of the variations listed below.

The other issue I see my athletes run into is unwanted swinging front to back while doing reps. Stay under control, keep a consistent rep path, bend the knees and cross the feet. These are all solutions that I have seen help eliminate swinging while doing Dips.

Benefits of Ring Dips

Ring Dips provide a number of benefits, including:

  1. Improved upper body strength and endurance: Ring Dips require the athlete to lift their own bodyweight, which can help to increase strength and muscle endurance in the triceps, shoulders, and chest.
  2. Improved balance and stability: Because the rings are unstable, Ring Dips require the athlete to maintain balance and control while performing the exercise. This can help to improve overall stability and balance.
  3. Greater range of motion: The rings can move freely, allowing the athlete to lower their body further down than they would be able to with bar dips. This can be beneficial for increasing shoulder flexibility and mobility.
  4. Cardiovascular benefits: Ring Dips are a high-intensity exercise that can elevate the heart rate and provide a cardiovascular workout if performed at high volume or as part of a circuit.

Overall, ring dips are a challenging and effective exercise for strengthening the upper body and improving overall fitness.


Dips


Man Doing Dips on Dip Rack Attachment

Equipment Needed

  • Squat Rack
  • Dip Attachment
  • A Dip Station can be used as well if you have access to one.

Muscles Worked

  • Chest
  • Shoulders (Anterior Delt)
  • Triceps

Step By Step Instructions

  • Attach your dip rack to your rack. This process will vary based on your rack and dip attachment. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
  • Set your dip rack just above waist height. This will allow enough room for your feet not to hit the ground while doing reps, but not so high you feel you have to jump up into your first rep.
  • Starting position is hands on bars, arms extended, knees slightly bent and feet crossed (crossing feet is optional but does help with unwanted swinging in my experience.
  • Descend down by bending the elbows and slightly leaning forward.
  • Lower yourself under control until the triceps become parallel with the ground and then drive yourself back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points

The biggest mistake I see with dips is poor range of motion. If someone is struggling to be able to do reps, the easiest solution is to simply not lower yourself into a full rep, but this is incorrect. If a lifter cannot perform a full rep they should switch to one of the variations listed below.

The other issue I see my athletes run into is unwanted swinging front to back while doing reps. Stay under control, keep a consistent rep path, bend the knees and cross the feet. These are all solutions that I have seen help eliminate swinging while doing Dips.

Don’t have a dip attachment? Here are 10 alternatives for Dips you can do instead.

Benefits of Dips

There are several benefits to incorporating Dips into your workout routine:

  1. Increased upper body strength: Dips require a significant amount of strength in the triceps, shoulders, and chest, and performing them regularly can help you build muscle and improve overall upper body strength.
  2. Enhanced functional strength: Dips require you to support your own body weight, which can help improve your functional strength and stability.
  3. Greater range of motion: Dips allow for a greater range of motion than many other upper body exercises, which can help improve your mobility and flexibility.
  4. Versatility: Dips can be performed with a variety of equipment, including bars, rings, and even parallel bars, giving you plenty of options for mixing up your workouts.

Overall, dips are a valuable exercise that can help you build strength, improve muscle definition, and enhance functional strength and mobility.

Ring Dips vs Bar Dips: Which is Better?

Now, let’s do a side-by-side comparison of the two exercises and see how they stack up when it comes to some common lifting goals.

Better For Size and Strength: Toss Up

Both Ring Dips and Bar Dips can be effective exercises for improving upper body strength.

Ring dips may be more effective for improving strength due to their unstable surface. The unstable surface of the rings requires the athlete to use more balance and control, which can help to increase overall strength and stability.

On the other hand, the stable surface of Bar Dips makes it easier to add extra resistance in the form of Weighted Dips. Being able to move more weight generally builds more strength.

Ultimately, both Ring Dips and Bar Dips can be effective exercises for improving upper body strength. The choice between the two may depend on the athlete’s individual needs and goals, as well as the equipment available.

Better For Beginners: Bar Dips

While both Ring Dips and Bar Dips are excellent exercises for strengthening the upper body, Bar Dips may be more suitable for beginners for a couple of reasons.

First, Bar Dips involve a more stable surface, as the athlete is using parallel bars or a dip station rather than gymnastic rings. This can make the exercise easier to perform and more accessible for those who are new to strength training.

Second, Bar Dips may be more widely available, as they can be performed on a variety of dip stations and parallel bars found in many gyms. This can make them more convenient for those who do not have access to gymnastic rings.

As the beginner becomes more comfortable and strong, they can progress to Ring Dips or (even better) incorporate both exercises into their training program.

Final Thoughts

I’ve just spent the last section of this article comparing which is better – Ring Dips vs Bar Dips. The truth is, there is no reason (assuming you have the available equipment) you shouldn’t have both exercises in your training program.

Both are excellent exercises for developing upper body strength and muscle mass. Incorporating both exercises into your training program can also add variety and keep your workouts from getting stale.

So, my suggestion would be instead of trying to decide between the two exercises, figure out how you can utilize both Ring Dips and Bar Dips in your training plan.

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Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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