Dips and weighted dips are not well known these days, the reason being is probably because there are thousands of chest machine variations that people pick and chose from at their gym. People tend to want to use comfortable machines rather than old school techniques that require discipline and effort. You will from time to time see that big guy with thick triceps and pectoral muscles performing them and for good reason too.
Dips were a staple exercise before any modern machines or super secret chest training technique. Think you’re tough doing 20+ pushups, chances are you may struggle to perform even a single dip! Whether it’s trying to improve your bench lock-out, chest and tricep strength or size, dips are king!
Why include dips in your training?
- You build up stabilizing muscles with dips which machines will not.
- I have a shoulder/pec injury and cannot do regular or close grip bench presses for chest/triceps if my life depended on it. Doing dips I am able to hit my triceps and chest heavy while avoiding the pain as best as I can while rehabbing.
- Adding weights with a chain belt or chains on your neck = more weight = more added resistance = more growth. You can tailor the exercise for serious hypertrophy. Cable flies will only do so much for anyone, muscular growth can only be achieved through heavy weight which can only be done through benching and weighted dips.
- Almost every successful bodybuilder and power lifter has at one point added dips in their training program.
- Dips and weighted dips force you to use your entire upper body and core without touching your feet — unlike pushups where you stabilize your body with your feet.
- Dips train functional strength. It translates to every other exercise that targets chest, triceps and shoulders. It translates into any sort of athletic or sports activity where you master your own body weight. Think of it as in real life pushing yourself up while climbing up a wall. It’s an entire body movement and in athletic terms this means you can carry and manipulate your own body weight and load
- You are guaranteed to pack on size and strength in your chest and triceps with dips. No ifs or buts as long as food intake and weights are in check.
Targeting chest on dips
- Look down and lean forward at angle so your chest is almost parallel with the floor
- If you have a dip station which has variable width (wider/closer bars) go wider to target chest more
Targeting triceps on dips
- Look straight ahead and try to keep your body upright while keeping your width shoulder width apart.
- Go down deep below a 90* angle. If you’re not going down to 90* angle you’re failing to do the exercise. Going too deep and you’re asking for a shoulder joint injury. Slightly below 90* with smooth jerk-free motion and controlled tension is the way to go.
Packing on serious size through dips
The only way to pack on serious size and strength is by adding weight. Once you’re able to do a good 10-15 reps of body weight dips, it’s time to graduate and start doing weighted dips. It can start with just 5lbs extra and keep going and going. Keep in mind if you’re lightweight, pushups, dips, and any other body exercise will be easy for you. A heavier guy will get more of a workout than you will due to their heavier weight. Adding weight thus becomes a must for lighter guys and ultimately everyone.
There’s a number of ways to perform weighted dips:
- Ideally use a dip belt through which you can attach plates, dumbbells or kettle bells
- Wear a weighted vest
- Add marine chains around your neck (looks hardcore — no they are not light although they come in a variety of weights)
- Wear a school bag and load it with weights. Use only if no other choice, may feel awkward with the contents moving around
- Hold a dumbbell between your legs. As a last resort only, I don’t recommend this although I’ve done it. You’ll add an unnecessary challenge of gripping the weights with your legs instead of concentrating on your dips.
But I can’t perform a single Dip!!
No one’s born superman, so we got to build ourselves up to it.
Assisted and Support exercise ideas
- Have a lifting partner hold your legs and assist you during dips.
- If you’re struggling doing just pushups maybe you need to improve pushups first and you’re too weak for the challenge of dips. Other chest/tricep exercises will help you get a stronger set of triceps and chest muscles prior to graduating to dips. Still.. struggle to do that one dip and then another, and then another.
- Perform bench dips. They work, but just like a pushup, they will not work the body and triceps as much because you’ll have your legs supporting your weight. It’s still a good exercise for working your way up. Bench dips can also use added weight through plates or dumbbells resting on your legs. A training partner can gently push you down for added resistance as well.
- If your your gym has an assisted dip machine do that for a while but don’t over depend on it I don’t recommend it much as it’s a weak exercise. Try to push yourself and get it right on real dips.
We want to master dips and get our chest and triceps better BY doing dips. So what to do if you can’t do even a single one? Cheat by hopping through the positive movement into position and then focus on the negative portion of the dip movement. In other words control yourself on the way down and consider that as your reps in your sets. After all it’s the eccentric/negative motion that puts the most tension on the muscle. Do 3 to 4 sets with 5 to 10 reps on negatives. This way over time you’ll be able to ultimately do at least one dip with controlled motion in the concentric/positive (upward) and eccentric/negative (downward) movement of the dip.
I prefer the negatives, but partial dips serve a helping hand too. Sure it may not be ideal but it’s another method to try to improve your dips with. Go as close to 90* degrees as possible and work your way into doing 90* degrees and then bellow 90* degrees. Work on your balancing act and control.
Bottom line is, try to focus on the real dips and work hard at it to achieve them. A combination of all of the above will ultimately result in you succeeding at a few legitimate full and proper dips. Before you know it, you’ll be adding weight and packing on size and strength inshAllah!
The power, the strength, the size, it will come… patience and persistence in continuous effort… dedication is key. Don’t give up just because you can’t perform a single one!
Once again dips are king when it comes to strength and size for both triceps and pectoral chest muscles. They’re not easy and people tend to skip on them for machines. Rest assured that’s a big mistake, they are worth the challenge. Work hard and work smart. Build yourself up to a few reps and go from there and start adding weight. It’s not an ego exercise because it takes real strength and control of your own body weight to perform successfully.
Focus on smooth jerk-free movements, concentrate on the negative contractions and explode up but control the motions all the way through. Focus on form above all and remember more weight will ultimately be the key to the added size and strength.
The lightweight guys, it’s mandatory that you add weight. Heavier guys, work hard and eventually start adding weight too please!
Ahmed out, Assalamu Alaikum!