CrossFit Ring Dip Progression Guide

What is the ring dip progression guide and why is it here?

I spent 6-years as an instructor at CrossFit One World in the Bay Area. During that time I had the opportunity to work with hundreds of clients in our classes over the years. We also hosted dozens of seminars and I was able to see observe and talk to those people as well. In that time, I had the opportunity to pick up a thing or two on the ring dip progression.

I learned so much in that time and one of the themes I observed is this. Many people know how to progress with barbell training. This is because it’s intuitive and linear.

Less is know how to progress in gymnastic movements. This is especially true for beginners athletes who have never been on the rings.

The purpose of this guide and the RX CrossFit Gymnastics program is to help people progress through these body weight movements as intuitively as they would barbell movements. In this guide, I’ll walk you though a simple ring dip progression. By the end you’ll be able to knock out 20-30 kipping ring kips in a row.

What I want is to progress you to the point where if a workout like Elizabeth came up (21-15-9 of cleans and ring dips) you can do the dips unbroken. Furthermore, getting to level 3 for ring dips will later be a pre-requisite to level 1 of the muscle up progression.

Do you offer other progressions?

I do! This is part a five-part series that covers the foundational bodyweight movements in CrossFit. You can access up to Level 1 in any of the blog posts below. The full programs contain levels 1-5 for each of the movements. Additionally there are movement videos, weekly templates, and a progress tracker.

What are ring dips?

In CrossFit you’ll come across many different variations of the dip. We have paralette dips, static dips, elevated dips, weighted dips, and ring dips. For this progression we’ll be using all of them and more.

In the most basic sense, a dip is when you are ‘on’ something, lower yourself down, and push back up. There are many ways to adjust the difficulty of a dip to make it suitable for your strength level. For example, her is a assisted ring dip.

I am on the rings in a support possition with my feet touching the box.

I lower myself as much as I can with my upper body.

I then push up with my upper body as much as possible with assistance from my legs.

And then, here is a ring dip performed without any assistance.


The Level Up Method

The ring dip  progression uses my Level Up method. The Level Up method is a framework to organize each of the RX CrossFit programs.

There are five levels. Each level has a goal to move to the next level. Each level is designed and programmed to fit the needs of athletes within that level. Once someone graduates to a new level the programming is adjusted to help reach the goal of the next level.

Level 1: CrossFit Ring Dip Progression

In level 1 we will be working on building up some of your basic dip strength. We’ll be using a set of parallettes. If you don’t have a pair you can use chairs, benches, or something else along those lines. For the purposes of this post I’ll be using the term parallettes even if you are using another apparatus.

We will be using very specific progressions and specific rep ranges. For example, the first workout has 8-12 parallettes dips. If you go over 12 on each set then you will move to the next most difficult progression. Lets say you are doing knees bent dips and that becomes to easy. On the next workout where dips come up you will extend your legs out further or all the way till they are straight.

This sort of ‘micro-progression’ can be referenced below for paralette dips, push ups, and static holds.

Bench or Paralette dip progression Instructions 

Is elevating your feet too difficult? Not to worry. Use any of the progressions below and gradually work your way up to it

  1. Knees bent. Gradually get to the point where your legs are fully extended. Demo.
  2. Straight legs dip with heels on the grond. Demo.
  3. Straight leg dip with heels elevated. Demo.
  4. Straight leg dip with heels elevated + weight on thighs.
Push up progression for standard and close grip – Demo

The following progressions are used for push-ups. Both standard and close grip.

  1. Standing with hands on a tall box
  2. On knees with 2 abmats under your chest.
  3. On knees with 1 abmats under your chest.
  4. On knees with chest touching floor.
  5. On knees with weight on your back.
  6. No knees on the way down. Knees on the way up. Can add abmat if lowering is difficult.
  7. Standard push up
  8. Standard push up + feet elevated
Static dip hold progression

The static dip hold is a isometric exercise intended to build the stabilizing structures that will be used in level 2 where your goal is to get a bodyweight dip. Each of the following progressions you should have your elbows extended and your shoulders pulled back so that are not in-caved. The parallette’s should be set 1 cubit apart – i.e. the distance from your elbow to the tip of your middle finger.

  1. Parallette’s – feet extended straight with heels on the ground.
  2. Parallette’s – feet extended straight with heels on a bench or box.
  3. Parallette’s – tuck sit with 1 foot on the ground. Gradually take weight off the foot until you can support yourself with no ground contact.
  4. Parallette’s – tuck sit
  5. Static dip hold on dip bars
  6. Static dip hold on rings
  7. Static dip hold on rings + weight

Level 1 instructions

  • Current ability: 1-10 parallette dips with feet on the ground. Bent or straight leg.
  • Goal: 8-10 parallette dips with legs on bench. 25lb for women and 45lb on lap for me. Move to level 2 when this is complete.
  • Objective: Strengthening for structures involved in the dip. Primarily focus on triceps and shoulder hypertrophy.
  • How to: 3 workouts a week with at 1-2 rest days between each.
Programming | Microcyle for Level 1 CrossFit Ring Dip
When Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Volume Assistance Intensity
Warm up 3 sets of 8-12 bench dips. If you go over 12 reps move to a more difficult progression. 3 sets of 3-5 close grip push ups. If you go over 5 reps move to a more difficult progression. 4 sets 4-7 bench dips at a progression slightly more difficult than day 1.
Cool down 3 sets of 8-12 standard push ups at most difficult progression 3 sets 8-12 of lying dumbell tricep extensions 3 sets 10-20 second static dip holds.
Cool down Accumulate 40 band tricep extensions. Add 5/week while in level 1. Accumulate 40 band tricep extensions. Add 5/week while in level 1.

Parallete Dip - Knees bent. Gradually get to the point where your legs are fully extended

Parallete Dip - Straight legs dip with heels on the ground

Parallete Dip - Elevated Stright Legs

Parallete Dip - Straight leg dip with heels on weight bench


Parallete Dip - Straight leg dip with heels on weight bench
| weight on thighs.

Static Dip - Static dip hold on dip bars


Band Tricep Extensions



Level 2: CrossFit Ring Dip Progression

In level 2 we start to move away from parallette dips and up to static dips. Static dips follow the same movement pattern as dips but on a different apparatus. They are easier because you do not need to stablize your body across a 36o plane on two rings.

Even though static dips will be the main focus we will start on the rings in level 2. The reason why is to get you accustomed to holding on yourself on the rings, which is a skill in of itself.

At first, you likely won’t be able to hold yourself unassisted. What I recommend is to lower the rings down to thigh level. This will allow you to hold yourself on the rings while your feet are on the ground. Once situated you can slow start bearing more weight on your hands on the rings and less on your feet on the ground. This is done by moving to your tip toes on both feet. Once that becomes too easy then only your tip toes on one foot. Eventually you will be able to lift that off the ground and support yourself.

Self-assisted static dip progression – Demo

The self-assisted dip should be performed on a static dip mount. If your gym does not have one, you can put two GHD’s close together and use the handles.

  1. Slow (3-4 seconds) and assistance on the way up and down. Gradually use your legs less to make it more difficult.
  2. Slow (3-4 seconds) and no assistance on the way down. Assistance on the way up.
  3. Slow (3-4 seconds) and no assistance on the way down with 1-3 second pause at the bottom before using your legs to help you get back up.
  4. Normal pace down (1-2 seconds) and back up with no assistance.
  5. Bodyweight dip + weight. Only start adding weight once you can do 5 strict bodyweight dips. Move up in 2.5lb or 5lb increments.
Level 2 instructions
  • Current ability: 8-10 parallette dips with legs on bench. 25lb for women and 45lb on lap for me
  • Goal: 3-5 static strict dips. Once you can consistently hit this goal move to phase 3.
  • Objective: Accumulation phase. Every week do more total dips than the last.
  • How to: 3 workouts a week with at 1-2 rest days between each.

Level 2 Programming and Video in RX Gymnastics Program

Level 3: CrossFit Ring Dip Progression

  • Current ability: 3-5 strict dips.
  • Goal: 5 strict ring dips. Move to phase 4 once you can do this consistently.
  • Objective: Build ring dip strength and start practicing dip technique. This will be a pre-requisite for Muscle Ups.
  • How to: 3 workouts a week with at 1-2 rest days between each.

Level 3 Programming and Video in RX Gymnastics Program

Level 4: CrossFit Ring Dip Progression

  • Current ability: 5 strict ring dips
  • Goal: 8-10 strict ring dips and 15-20 kipping ring dips. Move to phase 5 once you can complete this goal consistently.
  • Objective: Ring dip capacity.

Level 4 Programming and Video in RX Gymnastics Program

Level 5: CrossFit Ring Dip Progression

  • Current ability: 8-10 strict ring dips and 15-20 kipping ring dips.
  • Goal: Men 30+ / Women 20+ kipping ring dips
  • Objective: Build and maintain ring dip capacity.
  • How to: At this point you should do 2-4 dip specific workouts a month. Ring dips do not come up very often in CrossFit programming and with a finite amount of gym time should go to working on things that have a higher rate of return.Instead, your focus should turn to Muscle Ups. A caveat is if your focus is local comps or regionals and you have difficulty with high rep muscle ups than I would recommend 4-8 days a month until your around 4:00-5:00 minutes for something like 30 muscle ups for time. This is especially true for women since only 12 finished 30 burpee ring muscle ups for time in under 8 minutes in the 2013 regionals and having a high capacity for muscle ups is a big advantage when they come up. This is true for men as well but just more for women.

Upgrade to RX Gymnastics Program

Benefits of upgrade:

  • All  progression programming. This Includes Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
  • Also Includes progressions for HSPU, Muscle Ups, and Pull Ups.
  • Demonstration videos for each progression. Over 90+.
  • Progress tracker to track how far along you are.
  • Weekly templates to combine all movements into one program. This allows you to progress at all of the foundational movements in concert with each other.
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