So you’ve been committed to making a positive life change. Maybe you set that lofty goal of increasing your plateaus at the gym or simply making a difference in your life by getting more physically active. For those starting up or more advanced, a great bodyweight exercise that focuses on increasing overall strength and resistance is the DIP. But, as with any bodyweight exercise, it may present many challenges if not performed correctly. So in case you are feeling stuck and still don’t know how to get out of it, here is a post to help you get out of your funk on your DIPS.
Here’s how to do Dips with proper form:
Grab the parallel bars and jump up, straighten your arms
Lower your body by bending your arms while leaning forward
Dip down until your shoulders are below your elbows
Lift your body up by straightening your arms
Lock your elbows at the top
Dips are a compound, body-weight exercise. You do Dips by first raising yourself on two dip bars with straight arms. Lower your body until your shoulders are below your elbows. Push yourself up until your arms are straight again. Dips work your chest, shoulders, back and arm muscles.
A Proper Dip form is key to avoid shoulder and chest pain. Don’t let your shoulders roll forward. Don’t shrug them either. Keep your shoulders back and down. Lower yourself until your shoulders are below your elbows, but don’t go lower. Do Dips on fixed parallel bars and avoid Ring Dips.
More than Just your Triceps
Dips work more than just your triceps. Your arms bend and straighten to move your body. But they get help from your shoulders, chest and back muscles. And many more muscles work to keep you balanced while your body moves. This is why Dips are a compound exercise: they work many muscles at the same time. This is also why you can go heavier: more muscles working means more strength.
Arms. Your triceps straightens your arms to move your body up. Your triceps is your largest arm muscle on the back of your upper-arm. The stronger your triceps is, the more muscular it will be and the bigger your arms. Your forearms muscles also work to hold the bars tight.
Chest & Shoulders. Dips are like a vertical Bench Press. You’re pushing you body up on Dips like you’re pressing the bar away on the Bench. Your upper-arms are parallel to the floor at the bottom and must get vertical to lockout. This works your chest and shoulder muscles.
Abs. Your abdominal muscles keep your lower back neutral while your body moves up and down. They prevent your torso from arching excessively and keep it neutral. This develops the “six pack” muscles running over your belly, your rectus abdominus. They’ll show if you eat right.
Dips work similar muscles as the Bench Press and Pushup. The difference is you can go heavier on the Bench than Dips, and on Dips than Pushups. On the Bench you just add plates on the bar. On Dips you can easily add weight using a dip belt. Pushups are hard to do weighted. You need an x-vest or chains around your neck or someone has to put a plate on your back. The Bench Press and Dips are easier to do heavy.
In my opinion, dips beat triceps pushdowns or skullcrushers for building bigger arms. The weight on Dips is higher. You must lift your weight. The average 75kg guy like me can easily do body-weight Dips. I can do them with 20kg extra, which is 95kg total weight. Try pushdowns or skullcrushers with 95kg (Big No No). Dips are more effective because they work your triceps with heavier weight. More weight is more strength is more muscle.
Avoiding Common Issues
Proper form on Dips starts with locked elbows and ends with your shoulders lower than your elbows. This works the most amount of muscle at the same time. It works your arms, shoulders and chest through a full range of motion. But it also makes Dips harder because your body moves over a greater distance. Many people cheat by only dipping half the way down. But this results in half the strength and muscle gains.
Lock your elbows at the top. Start each rep with straight arms. Dip down until your shoulders are below your elbows. Then rise up, straighten your arms and lock your elbows. Don’t try to get more tension by keeping your elbows unlocked at the top. This shortens the range of motion. Finish all reps by locking your elbows. Your joints will safe if you don’t take your elbows past their normal range of motion but lock gently.
Break parallel at the bottom. Lower yourself until your shoulders are lower than your elbows. You don’t have to go down as low as you can to get a bigger stretch. Your shoulders and chest can hurt if you overdo it by going too low – don’t do that. But upper-arms parallel with the floor isn’t low enough. You must break parallel by bringing your shoulders below your elbows. Ask someone to check or videotape you while doing Dips.
Dips are harder when you use a full range of motion. But that’s also why they’re more effective for gaining upper-body strength and muscle. Don’t be that guy doing Dips with 20kg attached to his belt but only going half the way down. That’s like the guy bragging he Benches 300lb but his butt comes up on every rep and he never touches his chest. It’s not effective and it doesn’t count. Do your Dips properly.
Can’t Do One Dip?
Dips force you to lift your weight. This is often too heavy when you’re new to strength training. The best way to make Dips easier if you can’t do one rep is to do negatives. Focus on doing the way down only, the negative. Lower yourself slowly until your shoulders are below your elbows. Then put your feet on the floor and jump back on the dip bars with straight arms. You’re stronger on the way down than up so you can do this. Once you can do ten negatives with proper form, you can do one Dip.
Dips will hurt your shoulders if you fail to keep them in position. Don’t let your shoulders roll forward. Don’t shrug them against your ears. Push your shoulders back and down. Raise your chest at the top before you lower yourself. Take a big breath before you dip and hold it on the way down. Don’t exhale or you’ll lose tightness. Dip down, break parallel and come back up. Exhale, lift your chest, and repeat.
Make sure you don’t go too low. You must use a full range of motion to gain maximum strength and muscle with Dips. But that doesn’t mean you should go all the way down to get a bigger stretch. Most people lack the flexibility to go deep. Your shoulders will usually roll forward which puts them at risk. Dip with a full range of motion. But stop when your shoulders are below your elbows. No need to go any lower.
Pain in your chest bone or collarbone happens if your upper-back rounds during Dips. Your upper-back will round if you fail to keep your chest up. Raise your chest at the top before you dip down. Keep it up by filling your ribcage with air. Big breath, hold it, then go down. Break parallel at the bottom without going too low or exhaling. Then come back up, lock your elbows and raise your chest again. Keep your shoulders down.
Get that dip on! You’ll thank yourself in a little while ;)
Brought to you by Vibets.