For some lifters, nothing beats the upper-body pump they get from a high-intensity chest exercise. Many of those gym-goers hope to construct an even bigger, stronger chest by specializing in the bench press, however mastering the easy and efficient body weight dip typically goes neglected.

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This staple motion isn’t only for gymnasts or calisthenics lovers. It’s a basic old skool train that’s been utilized by bodybuilders and energy athletes for many years.

Adding dips to your exercise routine will goal your pecs, triceps, and shoulders for an all-around larger, fuller, stronger higher physique. Here’s how one can use solely your physique weight to ship a deep burn and explosive pump in your chest.

How to Do Dips

Dips might be executed on devoted dip bars, at an assisted dip station, or a sturdy and steady pair of chairs. Whichever setup you’re utilizing, guarantee it’s at a peak the place you’ll be able to hold your legs and toes off the bottom when within the backside (stretched) place. This will enable a full vary of movement for max profit.

Step 1 — Get up on the Bars

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Step as much as the dip station and seize the bars with palms your going through inward. Keep your arms straight — relying on the setup, you could have to sightly bounce into the locked out place. Bend your legs barely in order that your arms help your complete physique weight.

Keep your again straight and your head wanting ahead. Engage your core and glutes by squeezing them each to maintain your complete physique tight.

Form tip: Ideally, your arms needs to be roughly shoulder-width distance. Some dip bars are angled to permit completely different grip widths. If your arms are farther aside, shoulder-joint pressure can improve and pressure in your chest muscle tissues can lower.

Step 2 — Lower right into a Stretch

Woman performing chest exercise on bars outdoorsCredit: Anton Romanov / Shutterstock

Slowly decrease your physique till your elbows are roughly at 90-degree angles, in case your mobility permits. Maintain a forward-looking head place, however let your higher physique angle barely ahead to extend recruitment of the chest muscle tissues.

Your elbows will naturally angle barely outwards. Avoid excessively flaring your elbows on to the edges, which might improve pressure on the shoulder joints.

Form tip: Use a gradual tempo to make sure management, most muscle pressure, and enhance muscle development. (1) Take as much as three seconds to succeed in the underside place.

Step 3 — Drive as much as Full Contraction

muscular person doing chest dip exerciseCredit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Push your physique up in a managed, fluid movement. Stop when you’re again on the beginning place with practically straight arms. Briefly pause on the high to stabilize your physique and decrease any swinging.

As your physique rises, concentrate on feeling fixed pressure contracting your chest muscle tissues. Engage the mind-muscle connection by focusing your full consideration on the pecs and visualize the muscle fibers working.

Form tip: Your physique’s path upwards ought to mirror the reducing part. Your head and shoulders ought to arc barely in entrance of your arms on the best way down, and your higher physique ought to return to a totally stacked place along with your elbows above your wrists.

Dip Mistakes to Avoid

Dips are a traditional body weight train that may add energy and measurement to your chest, arms, and shoulders. However, poor type can result in suboptimal outcomes or potential harm, together with put on and tear in your rotator cuff tendons. (2) Fortunately, the commonest errors are comparatively straightforward to keep away from.

Locking Your Elbows

In the highest place, keep away from locking your elbows ramrod straight. Maintain a slight bend in your arms to maintain them underneath fixed pressure and yield optimum muscle-building outcomes. (3) Paying consideration to your arm place at lockout reinforces utilizing a comparatively gradual tempo whereas specializing in most muscle recruitment.

person in outdoor gym doing chest dipCredit: SofikoS / Shutterstock

In addition, locking your elbows places them in a probably hyperextended state, which can improve your danger of harm.

Avoid it: As your physique approaches the highest of the motion, concentrate not solely to your chest muscle tissues contracting, however your arm place. This shall be tough to do in case you use sloppy, swinging repetitions, so keep a continuing, fluid movement all through every repetition.

Dipping Too Low

The backside, stretched place of most workout routines is the place the concerned joints are underneath the best potential stress. Save your shoulders by paying shut consideration your depth when doing dips.

muscular person performing chest dip outdoorsCredit: Art4star / Shutterstock

Going too low, past the purpose the place you’re feeling your shoulder muscle tissues stretching, can considerably pressure the joints. Remember, type is king in terms of any train. Bodyweight workout routines, together with dips, aren’t any completely different.

Avoid it: As you decrease your physique into the stretched place, it’s best to really feel each your chest muscle tissues and shoulder muscle tissues stretching. Don’t let your ego speak you into utilizing an extreme vary of movement. If you’ll be able to see a mirror throughout the train, pay further consideration as your elbows method a 90-degree bend. Stopping barely larger is extra acceptable than dropping too low.

Benefits of Dips

This fundamental body weight train permits you to construct muscle mass and energy in your higher physique, significantly your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Mastering energy coaching train along with your body weight can even assist to lowered your general danger of harm and enhance core stabilization.

Increased Muscle Mass and Strength

Doing dips stimulates your pecs, triceps, and core considerably. By stretching and creating pressure on your entire chest muscle, dips are an environment friendly train for reinforcing muscle development. (4) Bodyweight workout routines have additionally been proven to be corresponding to free weight workout routines for constructing energy. (5)

Improved Joint Health

Maintaining muscular stability is important for joint stability and general well being and efficiency, and body weight coaching is a extremely efficient resolution. (6)

person doing dips in home gymCredit: Nannupa / Shutterstock

If you carry out many pulling workout routines or take part in actions which are pulling-intensive (e.g. coaching on rowing machines, pull-ups, many fight sports activities, and so on.), recurrently performing dips can construct sturdy pushing muscle tissues to assist forestall muscular imbalances. A ten% improve in energy coaching quantity has proven to considerably decrease general harm danger. (7)

Improved Core Stabilization

Dips aren’t solely a chest train. You’ll interact your core by holding your decrease physique steady all through the motion. While your core isn’t straight educated throughout dips, it’s strongly recruited to offer total-body stability and coordinated motion as you press. Improved core stability helps to advertise general energy, well being, and harm prevention. (8)

Muscles Worked by Dips

Dips are a extremely efficient train for strengthening the muscle tissues positioned in and across the chest. While dips primarily goal the chest itself, the triceps and shoulders are additionally straight educated, in addition to smaller stabilizers all through the higher physique.

Pectoralis Major

The pectoralis main is a thick, fan-shaped muscle that’s the most important muscle of the entrance chest wall. The pecs have a number of features controlling arm motion together with flexion and adduction (bringing the arms towards the physique’s centerline)(9)

Person in gym performing weighted exercise on dip barsCredit: Bojan Milinkov / Shutterstock

The pec main has two heads, the clavicular (higher chest) and the sternocostal (mid and decrease chest). When executing dips, the clavicular head is extra considerably labored as you method the high portion of the motion. The sternocostal head is extra extremely activated as you decrease into the stretched place. (9)

Triceps Brachii

The triceps encompass three separate however functionally related muscle heads — the lengthy, medial, and lateral. These are discovered on the again of the higher arm. The triceps are answerable for straightening the arm on the elbow joint, extending the shoulder, and transferring the arm behind the torso — all of which work in sync throughout dips. (10)

Dips apply pressure on all three heads of the triceps. Interestingly, the medial head, particularly, is extra activated when the elbow is flexed past 90-degrees and the physique reaches a comparatively important depth. (10)

Anterior Deltoid

The anterior deltoid (entrance shoulder muscle tissues) is concerned when elevating the arm ahead, in keeping with your physique. More significantly, it’s engaged when transferring your arm from behind your physique to the entrance and/or overhead. During dips, the anterior deltoid is activated when your higher arm strikes from the 90-degree bent place into the highest place along with your arms straight arms by your sides.

The anterior deltoids shoulder not be the first working muscle throughout dips, however they’re recruited considerably, which is why lifters with pre-existing shoulder issues might not be snug performing the train.


The abs are labored statically to regulate your decrease physique and keep a steady total-body place. Similar to performing pull-ups, it’s not unusual for lifters to really feel some ab pressure (and even post-workout soreness) of their abs after a number of intense units of dips.

While your abs aren’t contracting via a major vary of movement, they’re recruited to keep up management over the hips and pelvis, and forestall any leg swinging.

Who Should Do Dips

Whether you’re pushing a lawnmower or pushing a weight overhead, having sufficient higher physique urgent energy is important. Dips may also help to extend muscle mass, enhance practical energy, and construct better higher physique mobility.

Bodybuilders and Physique Athletes

Dips are a bodyweight-only different to the bench press or different chest urgent workout routines. It permits lifters to coach the chest with excessive pressure, excessive depth, and minimal gear. Dips may also help to sculpt the chest by working the pecs at a singular angle, creating an efficient stimulus for development. (11)

Strength Athletes

Any lifter centered on transferring most weight in a urgent motion (bench press, overhead press, clear & jerk, and so on.) can profit from including dips to their accent coaching. By constructing the chest, shoulders, and triceps, you’ll be able to enhance the potential energy and energy these muscle can exert. (12) The body weight dip additionally permits an intense exercise with comparatively much less load, which might cut back cumulative stress on the joints.

How to Program Dips

Most inexperienced persons will discover the dip to be difficult since you’re required to raise nearly all of their very own physique weight, which might be too tough attributable to lack of energy. Fortunately, persistence and energy will yield enchancment. Experienced lifters can even profit from the train as a coaching staple for measurement and energy.

Unweighted, Moderate Volume (Sets and Reps)

When chasing optimum muscle features, coaching the body weight dip with 4 to 6 units of 12 to fifteen reps, a couple of times every week might be extremely efficient. Approach failure on the ultimate reps of every set to make sure applicable depth. This whole quantity gives your chest with enough time underneath pressure to set off muscle development.

Weighted or Unweighted, Low Repetition

Performing low quantity with low repetitions, corresponding to 4 to 5 units of three to 6 reps, is a dependable technique to construct energy. This low quantity might be achieved by suspending weight from a belt, holding a dumbbell between your toes, or from merely being unable to carry out greater than six repetitions with good type.

Performing unweighted, low repetition units ceaselessly all through the day is one efficient technique for constructing energy and enhancing approach. This is called greasing the groove and it’s a extremely efficient method to grasp any body weight train, together with dips.

Dip Variations

Dips can be utilized by lifters and athletes of any health stage to use pressure to the a number of heads of the chest, triceps, and delts. Begin with extra manageable variations of the dips whereas specializing in type, then add depth and quantity as you progress.

Ring Dip

Ring dips are a tougher variation that requires important muscular coordination, stability, and stability. This train applies pressure to the pecs via an extended vary of movement whereas additionally difficult the smaller stabilizers within the shoulders and higher again.

Ring dips are a well-liked train in CrossFit programming, in addition to common gymnastic-based applications, however the elevated recruitment of the higher physique stabilizers may also help to enhance muscular coordination and general shoulder well being when programmed appropriately.

Triceps Dip

This very refined variation makes use of slight changes to your arm and torso positions. These will lower emphasis on the chest and improve recruitment of the triceps, making it a well-liked and environment friendly arm-building motion.

The first important distinction from the chest-focused dip is to keep up an upright torso throughout the descent relatively than leaning ahead, to cut back recruitment of the chest muscle tissues. Even extra importantly, hold your elbows close to your physique and aimed in the direction of the wall behind you. (13) Don’t enable them to flare outwards.

Dip Alternatives

If an absence of shoulder mobility or pre-existing harm prevents you from executing dips, there are many different workout routines you are able to do to proceed including measurement and energy to your chest.


Good ol’ push-ups. This traditional train is a superb different to dips that also makes use of your personal body weight to use pressure to the pecs and urgent muscle tissues.

Some skilled lifters think about push-ups to be too straightforward however, like dips, push-ups might be progressed with elevated quantity or exterior load to constantly problem the muscle tissues. The chest and shoulder muscle tissues aren’t put via a major stretch throughout push-ups, in comparison with dips, making them a really perfect possibility for lifters with pre-existing joint ache.

Bench Press

The traditional bench press is a superb substitute for dips as a result of the potential to maneuver heavy weights can carryover to measurement and energy features. Some fitness center veterans would rank the bench press on par with dips as basic chest-building workout routines.

The flat barbell bench press is clearly important for powerlifters, as one of many aggressive lifts. Its potential to construct upper-body energy can even carryover to different energy athletes together with strongmen and strongwomen.


Are dips dangerous for the shoulders?

Using correct type and avoiding the approach errors defined above, dips will place extra stress on the pecs, triceps, and anterior deltoid muscle tissues as a substitute of the related joints. This optimum muscle recruitment can considerably cut back the chance of harm.

However, if the train is executed with improper type or too heavy a load, dips might result in shoulder impingement, probably straining the rotator cuff tendons. (14) Fundamentally, the rules which apply to all workout routines apply to dips — do them correctly, with programming applicable in your health stage, and also you’ll decrease potential hazards.

How ought to I program dips with different presses in a chest exercise?

Specific programming variables will rely on plenty of components, together with your expertise stage, coaching frequency, and targets. Generally talking, performing one to 3 numerous forms of presses in a single exercise might be an efficient method to practice your chest.

Ideally, the workout routines shall be numerous — such because the flat barbell bench press, dips, and incline dumbbell press. Redundant coaching — such performing the flat barbell bench press, flat dumbbell bench press, and close-grip barbell bench press in a single session— will ship extreme fatigue and minimal outcomes.

Time to Take a Dip

Shoulder accidents, poor shoulder mobility, and lack of “pushing strength” can intrude with day by day life and hinder efficiency within the fitness center, on the platform, and on the sector. However, incorporating dips into your coaching program can pack on muscle, improve energy, cut back harm danger, and improve bodily efficiency for lifters, athletes, and weekend warriors alike.


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