Friday, December 13, 2013

Ben Bruno - Next Level Push-Ups and Dips (T-Nation)

Double Bodyweight Ring Pushups - Ring pushups with 185 lbs. of chains and weighted vests. Bodyweight 182 lbs.

Rings and a weighted vest are excellent additions to any training program, especially if you work out at home. Ben Bruno discusses how to use these tools to reach new levels with your push ups and dips (for some guys with wide shoulders, these are the best chest exercises available, but providing enough resistance has been challenging).

Next Level Push-Ups and Dips

by Ben Bruno | T-Nation (Facebook Page)

I first bought a pair of gymnastic rings six years ago as a way to progress pushups to make them harder. I’d figured anything endorsed by the likes of Dave Tate and Jim Wendler was at least worth a try. I’ve yet to venture into the harder gymnastics-type movements, but ring pushups have been a staple exercise in my program ever since. It was really a love-at-first-try type of thing. I always love a good challenge, and the rings definitely provide that.

The first few times I tried them I was shaking as if I had Parkinson’s and could only muster a few reps, but after a little bit of practice, my stability improved rapidly to where I could start to crank them out more easily. Once I got better at them, it quickly became one of my favorite upper-body exercises.

After I felt comfortable with ring pushups, I delved into ring dips and found I loved those too. Interestingly, I’ve found that bar dips can bug my shoulders sometimes -- especially weighted --but doing them on the rings feels fine.

The Problem

The one problem I’ve continually had though with both pushups and dips on the rings is that when the rings are set up at just outside shoulder width (the way most people do them), they tend to chafe your outer arms, right over the triceps. Wearing long sleeves helps a bit, but who wants to wear long sleeves when it’s hot in the gym?

As I got stronger and started to load the exercises more, the chafing got worse, to the point that after every time I did the exercise I’d have people asking me “what happened to your arms?” because there were massive red marks, similar to a rug burn.

A little chafing certainly isn’t enough to stop doing a good exercise though, just like you wouldn’t stop deadlifting because it can bruise your shins. It started to bug me more and more though, so as I way to eliminate it, I started hanging the rings wider.

I do all my ring work in a power rack, so rather than hang them straight down from the pull-up bar on the front just outside the shoulders, I hung them from the sides of the rack. It made a huge a difference!

The Surprise Effect

Not only did that eliminate the chafing, but it also enhanced the exercises significantly, which is even better.

The key is to perform the exercises just as you normally would and not let the wider rings dictate your arm position. For both the pushups and dips, your hands should be just outside your torso and your elbows should be tucked in, not directly to your sides, but pretty close. You certainly don’t want them flaring way out.

With the rings set wider, you have to actively squeeze your pecs like crazy in order to keep your arms and hands in tight, so doing pushups and dips in this fashion will absolutely smoke your chest. Keep in mind though that the wider the rings are, the harder the exercise becomes, so start at shoulder width and move out gradually over time.

With pushups, you may want to elevate your feet slightly as well to account for the ring being raised off the floor. Other than that, perform them just as you would a normal pushup.

With the dips, keep the hands in tight to your sides. Also, to keep the stress on your chest, lean forward slightly and don’t lock out your triceps fully at the top.

If you’ve got some experience with the rings and looking to take things to the next level and blast your chest in a whole new way, give this a shot. -- BB

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