Dips are a great exercise to add to your routine for mass in the chest and triceps. A compound, push-type exercise every athlete should incorporate into their training program no matter their training experience. All you need is a dip bar and your bodyweight.
In this article we’ll go over how to build a big chest with dips and weighted dips and do’s and don’ts for this exercise, so let’s get started!
The width between the two bars is a key factor to where the most emphasis will be on. With a more narrow grip, the triceps get more involved into the movement and with a wider grip – the chest works more.
When doing dips, the chest and triceps muscles are the primary targets. Some of the load goes to the front delts as well. But depending on your body’s position, the emphasis can be shifted from one muscle to another depending on your goals.
What Are The Different Variations
Depending on the grip width: If the grip is about shoulder-width, the triceps work more.
If the grip is wider, the chest works more.
Depending on the body tilt: If you tilt slightly forward (bend knees, crossing your legs at the ankles) the emphasis is on the chest.
By keeping your body straight (without crossing or bending your legs), the emphasis is on the triceps.
Depending on elbow position: If your elbows are tight to your body, triceps are worked more.
If your elbows are flared out, then most of the emphasis is on the chest.
With added weight: When you progress and become stronger, adding weight to your dips can be a good call.Just strap on a belt and put a plate on it or put a dumbbell between your ankles.
Keep in mind that improper form can cause a shoulder injury and if you’re feeling any pain or irritation during a set of dips, you should immediately stop.
How To Perform Dips With Good Form
How to: Chest Dips
1. Grab a parallel bar with the desired width and jump up, straightening your arms and lockout at the elbows. This will be your starting position.
2. As you breathe in, slowly lower yourself down until you feel a nice stretch in the chest(and triceps – depending on the variation).
3. Bring your body back to starting position as you breathe out.
8 Important Things to Remember When Performing Dips
1. If done incorrectly, dips can put a dangerous amount of stress on your elbows and if you’re feeling any pain or discomfort there, stop and ask somebody to review your technique or film yourself doing.
2. At the bottom position, a muscle strain can occur of the chest or triceps if you lower yourself too much or you cannot properly handle the added weights(if there are any).
3. Before doing dips, make sure you’ve properly warmed up your shoulder and elbow joints. This can drastically reduce the chance of an injury.
4. Make sure you’re doing the exercise with full range of motion and not going too low. Everyone feels the painless stretch of the muscles at a different point and it is very important to find what your sweet spot is for optimal chest involvement.
5. Avoid swinging your body. The movement should come from the shoulders and elbows only.
6. Pay attention to any pain that may occur during the exercise and stop doing your set immediately if you feel any.
7. Keep your head up and look forward.
8. As you go up, stop slightly before locking out at the elbow because that adds additional stress to the elbow joint.
What If I Can’t Do Dips?
Some people don’t have the strength to support themselves on a parallel bar and need to work their way up to a regular dip. A great way to approach this is by doing bench dips.
To perform bench dips all you need is a bench and a stable surface to put your feet on(like another bench). By resting your feet on a platform or the ground, you’re eliminating a large amount of the weight of the legs.
Performing bench dips is very similar to the regular ones. Place your hands firmly on a bench and while keeping your legs straight, lower yourself down until your shoulders are slightly stretched. Next, raise yourself up until your arms are fully extended.
Just like the regular dip exercise, here you can put more emphasis on your chest by leaning forward or work your triceps more by keeping your body straight throughout the set.
If you have weak triceps, strengthening them with isolation exercises and close-grip bench press can also help you start doing dips.
How To Incorporate Dips Into Your Training
Dips are a great mass-building exercise for the chest and triceps so it’s recommended to add them into your routine no matter your experience level.
As a beginner to intermediate, you should place dips as a second or third exercise. And if you’re an advanced lifter, adding them as a last move for the chest is a good way to finish of a workout.
If you can easily do 15 reps with your bodyweight, consider adding additional weights on yourself. Pick a weight that allows you to do a minimum of 6 reps to around 10-12. Do 3 or 4 working sets per workout and keep the rest intervals between 1 to 2 minutes.