Do you use dips in your training? If you don’t you definitely will after reading this article.
Dips are a very difficult exercise to master and many people are doing them incorrectly. I’ll break down perfect form and teach you some ways to get the most out of them.
Should You Lean Forward When Doing Dips?
If your goal is to target the chest then you will want to lean forward so that it can take over the movement. If your goal is to work your triceps, then you want to keep your body straight. Whichever variaton you are doing, make sure to keep your shoulders down as this will prevent strain on them.
Start by finding a pair of dip bars or any parallel bars that aren’t too far away from each other. They need to be high enough off the ground so that you can hang with your knees bent without touching the ground.
Grasp the bars so that your body is hovering in the air and your knees are bent. You’ll now want to lean forward at about a 45 degree angle so that your chest is doing most of the work. Make sure that your chest is slightly in front of your shoulders so that the shoulders are not taking over the movement.
Let your body lower down by bending your arms until your chest is inline with the bars. Make sure to keep your head in line with your spine as you go down. Try not to round your back.
Once you are at the bottom, press up and contract your chest to return to the starting position. Try to press the dip bars into the ground and towards each other, which will help you contract your chest. Just by mentally visualizing that your are driving the bars together, you will feel the movement in your chest.
Don’t come all the way up and lockout your elbows as this will take the tension off the chest.
Try to squeeze your back and keep your shoulders in place throughout the movement. You shouldn’t be swinging or bouncing your body around. Keep your core tight to help with this.
Make sure that your elbows aren’t flaring out when doing dips. This can put stress on the shoulders and potentially cause injury.
The lower that you go, the more you will feel it in your chest. Going halfway down won’t build your chest and you are better off using the assisted dip machine so that you can do proper range of motion.
Chest Dip Variations
Assisted Dip Machine
If the movement is too difficult for you to complete proper reps, consider using the assisted dip machine. This will allow you to add weight to a pad under your knees.
Do this and slowly drop weight until you can eventually do it without the pad. It’s a lot more beneficial to do proper reps with full range of motion on the assisted dip machine than it is to do half reps or sloppy reps with the pad.
If you have been doing dips for a while and are starting to find them too easy, try out weighted dips. The easiest way to do this is to get one of the belts where you can chain a plate to hang from your waist.
You can also try to hold a dumbbell between your legs but it is a lot more difficult than wearing a belt. Start with lighter weight and work your way up as light weight goes a far way in dips.
They are already a difficult exercise so you don’t want to add too much weight. If your form is suffering or you are feeling shoulder or wrist pain, it’s bet to lower the weight.
Weighted dips are a great way to overload and grow the chest, make sure you try out this movement if you are strong enough.
Tricep dips differ from chest dips as you don’t want to lean forward. By staying upright, you keep the chest out of the movement and focus the tension on the triceps.
Start by holding your body up with dip bars similar. to the chest dip. Hang in the air with knees bent and your body straight. Slowly bend the elbows to bring yourself dow. Go as low as you can without experiencing discomfort.
Contract your triceps to push your body back up in the air. It’s natural for your body to want to lean forward but try to keep it as straight as possible.
Make sure that your shoulders don’t hunch forward, they should remain retracted and down just like in the chest dip. To prevent shoulder pain, don’t dip down too low.
Consider watching this informative video on the tricep dip for more help.
Tricep Dip Variations
If a normal dip is too difficult, consider doing them on a chair, weight bench, or any object that can support your weight. Sit on the edge and grip next to your hips.
Extend your legs and look straight ahead. Holding up your weight with your hands, slide your body forward so that you are hanging off the object.
Slowly lower yourself bending your elbows and go as low as you can. Then squeeze the triceps to force your body back up.
You can also use the assisted dip machine until you have mastered it and can do one without the help of the weighted pad.
If tricep dips are becoming too easy for your, considering adding weight to make them more difficult. All of the same chest dip variations can be used for the tricep dip.
Benefits of Dips
The dips is a great exercise for those who have troubles with mind muscle connection. Many people can’t feel their chest being worked in movements such as the bench press or machine chest press.
It’s very easy to make sure your chest is being worked when doing dips if you are doing them correctly. Dips also work a lot of stabilizer muscles as you have to be able to hold your body weight up in the air.
Dips are great for building a wide chest as they target the outer chest. Many people have difficulties hitting the outer chest so dips are a good choice.
Dips are great for improving lockout strength which is the final few inches at the top of the movement. This strength will transfer over to other movements that have this lockout portion such as the bench press and overhead press.
Compound exercises such as dips that target multiple muscle groups build the most muscle and burn the most fat. Since you can get such a wide range of motion, dips are great for hitting all of the muscle fibres in the chest.
Another great thing about dips is that they can be done anywhere. At home you can find two sturdy objects and do dips on them.
Increase Your Dip Strength
Grip strength is an important factor in dips. There is a lot of stress placed on your wrists as they are holding up your entire body weight. If you find them bending or getting sore, you should try to increase your grip strength.
Dead lifts, reverse curls, and forearm training are all great ways to do so. Consider purchasing a cheap pair of grip strengtheners and use them a couple times a week. Cheapest price is on Amazon, here’s a link.
You must not only strengthen the chest to increase your dips, but also the triceps and anterior deltoids as they play an important role in the exercise. Consider bench press, dumbbell press, overhead presses and skull crushers.
Proper recovery is crucial for increasing any lift in the gym. Your muscles grow when your body is resting so you should be sleeping at least 7 hours a night to ensure maximum growth and recovery. Also, make sure that you aren’t training the same muscle groups again for 48 hours after you last trained them. This gives them enough time to fully recover for the next session.
Nutrition should also be taken into account. You cannot get stronger if you aren’t supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to grow. You should be in a calorie surplus if you’re trying to pack on as much muscle as possible.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated. Water helps transport all the nutrients you feed your body into the muscles. Water also provides proper pumps and contractions. Your muscles are also 3/4 water.
You should be progressively overloading by either increasing reps, sets, or weight each time you go into the gym. You can also decrease rest times or increase intensity. This ensures that you are always gradually getting stronger and not plateauing.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments and I’ll be sure to get back to you!
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