4 Benefits of Russian Dips

In an earlier article we discussed the Russian dip and why it can be a valuable asset to gymnastics and competitive fitness athletes looking to build stronger triceps, chest muscles, and develop better control and coordination in movements like the muscle-up.

In this article we will recap some of that information and then dive deeper into the specific benefits coaches and athletes can expect when integrating Russian dips into their training programs.

Who Should Do Russian Dips

Russian dips require a great amount of shoulder stability, mobility, and upper body strength. General fitness enthusiasts can benefit from performing more advanced movements like the Russian dip in their training only if they have spent time developing the proper muscles and movements to allow them to control the increased range of motion in this exercise.

Additionally, fitness athletes and gymnasts can benefit from performing this dip variation as it has high transferability to movements like the muscle-up. In the turnover phases of the muscle-up, the athlete must find support and stability in a deep dip, often placing great loading on the ligaments and tendons of the shoulder joint. By properly performing Russian dips, they can build better movement foundations and stability to assist in movement efficiency and help to prevent injury.

How to do a Russian Dip

In the below video the Russian dip is demonstrated. Note, that this movement can be done on most dip stands, parallel bars, and boxes. The key difference between Russian dips and regular, strict dips is that the individual adds an extra “bend/dip” at the start of the movement by rolling their forearms/elbows backwards so that they are resting on the stand (see video). To properly perform this moment, you want to be sure to not rock or use body momentum to initiate the movement. Rather, stay in control and work to use you triceps, chest, and shoulder muscles to lift yourself up to them perform the standard strict dip.

4 Benefits of the Russian Dip

In the below section we discuss four benefits that coaches and athletes can expect when integrating Russian dips into their training programs.

Muscle Hypertrophy

Like all dips, muscle hypertrophy and strength in the triceps, chest, and shoulders are direct training adaptations of performing the Russian dip. Increasing upper body strength and muscle size in the triceps and chest is key for strength, power, and fitness sports since they require a strong ability to press and/or support oneself/objects with locked elbows (handstands, muscle-ups, jerks, bench press, etc). Performing Russian dips rather than strict, regular dips will also help to increase the range of motion, time under tension, and target the muscle as it is loaded in a deeper joint angle.

Increased Control and Strength

For sports like gymnatis and competitive fitness, body awareness, control, and strength at deep end ranges is necessary to performance. Increasing your ability to support yourself while in this position can help to stabilize the shoulder joint during competitive gymnastic routines, ring training, and more. Failure to do so can result in inefficient usage of energy and strength in those positions, excessive movement/inefficiency, and more importantly…injury.

Muscle-Up Performance

Muscle-ups require a lifter to perform a dip (strict, kipping, etc) after initial turnover phase in the first segment of the muscle-up (hip drive to row/pull-up). Without proper awareness, strength, stability, and confidence in one’s abilities (in the deep dipped position), athletes may avoid a smooth turnover that gets them into this position out of fear of either not getting out of it (lack of strength/control) and/or injury. By performing Russian dips, you can hep to train the specific muscle groups and movement patterns necessary for this turnover phase of the movement and work to increase injury resilience and confidence in these deeper, more challenging positions.

Injury Resilience

As discussed throughout this article, performing Russian dips can be very beneficial for injury prevention purposes with athletes that are performing gymnastic movements. Performing Russian dips will increase the athlete’s ability to promote control and force at deeper joint angles and activate more muscle tissue at those ranges rather than relying exclusively on ligaments, tendons, and joint structures; which can result in overuse or potential harmful injuries to joint capsules and connective tissues.

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Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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