How to do russian dips | progressions & tips

In this article you will learn what russian dips are, how to perform them, progressions and tips

What are russian dips?

Russian dip, also called elbow dip and forearm dip is an advanced dip variation, in which you do a normal dip and when you’re at the bottom of the movement, you lean backward to touch the bar with your elbows and forearms. Then with the forward lean (or momentum if you need to) move up to the bottom dip position and push yourself up.

Russian dips benefits

Here are 3 benefits of the russian dips

Muscle up transition

Russian dips are quite similar to the transition phase of muscle ups, where you go from underneath the bar to above. They also work the same muscles, therefore russian dips are great to build strength in the transition phase of the muscle up.

Impossible dip progression

Impossible dips are basically russian dips without leaning forward/backward to make exercise easier. They are entirely focused on the triceps. Starting from the russian dip and leaning less over time will make you achieve an impossible dip.

Shoulder mobility

Unlike most dip variations, russian dips require great shoulder extension. They will improve your shoulder mobility.

Muscles worked during russian dips

The russian dip works most of the major muscles in the upper body

The primary muscles worked in russian dips are:

  1. triceps
  2. pectorals
  3. biceps brachii

Additional secondary muscles worked include:

  1. forearms
  2. rhomboids
  3. scapular stabilizers
  4. trapezius

How to perform russian dips?

  1. Get into the dip position
  2. Lower yourself down to a 90-degree bend in your arms
  3. Lean backward and bring your elbows down to the bars
  4. Lean forward or use momentum if you need and rise the elbows to a bottom dip position
  5. Push yourself above the bar so that you have straight arms
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions


2 progressions to help you master the russian dips

Regular dips

The dip is a base of a russian dip, it’s half of the movement, before you start with russians, you should have a good foundation. Remember to do them in the full range of motion, because the bottom part is the most challenging. You have to be strong in a full range of motion, every angle, especially the bottom part.

Reverse russian dips

Start with your elbows on the bar and try to get above the bar. It’s like the negatives in pull ups – you learn the movement and build the necessary strength by doing the exercise in reverse order.


Few tips to help you progress faster

Distance between the bars

If you have the possibility of adjusting the distance between the bars – try many different options. Find the distance that suits you best. Generally the wider it’s the harder it should be.

Shoulder mobility

If you have difficulty getting into that position or if your shoulders hurt during the exercise, you should work on your shoulder mobility. That is a good routine you can follow to improve your shoulder flexibility.

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