Fitness

What are Dips Workout? And What Variation is Right for You?

A dip is an easy free-weight movement that requires no equipment. You just need two parallel bars and you are good to go.

It’s among those bodyweight movements that build the base for a perfect physique. The Dips work out muscles in the front of your upper body. These include chest and shoulder. It also works a significant amount of the triceps. However, even the simplest of things can be challenging sometimes. Before doing any exercise, we have to know the basics about that exercise. 

Let’s look at the targeted chest muscles while doing a chest dip. Mastering a perfect dip leads to noticeable upper-body development. Let’s also look at the correct form to maintain when doing a dip.

1. Muscles Targeted in Dips

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By Tony Barnbrook/ Unsplash copyrights 2021

A dip is an efficient bodyweight movement. It works a good portion of the upper body. The primary muscles targeted in Dips are the pectoralis muscle (major and minor), triceps branchii, and anterior deltoid. These are all those muscles that are heavily worked when performing dips. Other muscles work in coordination with the primary movers.

These include rhomboids, latissimus doris, and Teres Major. There’s very little hypertrophic effect on these muscles. But our body is identical to a machine, so every body part complements others. There’s another muscle involved that stabilizes the dip movement known as the trapezius. It stabilizes the body and helps balance it during the movement.

2. The Perfect Form

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By Alora Griffiths / Unsplash copyrights 2019

Despite being a bodyweight movement, there are some cues to perform a dip correctly. Even a small tweak in the form can add up overtime leading to an injury. A good form also stimulates the muscle more which triggers significant muscle growth. Let’s discuss every part of the Dip exercise in detail

2.1 The Set-up

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By John Fornander/ Unsplash copyrights 2018

The exercise starts even before the actual movement. When setting up the dips, make sure that the parallel bars are at the same level. Grab the bar and pull yourself up with extended arms. Make sure that you keep your arms fully extended. Also, activate your traps by keeping your shoulders and neck tight. Avoid shrugging your shoulders and keep them at the same level. 

2.2 The Actual Movement

After setting up, start performing the movement. Slowly start bending at the elbow and go slowly lower and down. Stop descending further when your shoulders become parallel to the bars. Hold that for a moment and then push against the bar to come up at the start position. That’s what a perfect dip should be like. Make sure not to shrug your shoulder throughout the movement. Maintain the tension in your muscles throughout the dip. Perform 10-12 repetitions of the exercise.

2.3 Important Additional Cues

Now that we have learned about the movement, let’s discuss important cues to keep in mind. Fold your legs from your knee during the movement. Keep the core tight to stabilize the movement. Practicing proper breathing is important during the dip exercise. Inhale when you are descending and exhale while you are coming up. When you inhale or exhale, do it with your mouth.  

3. Different Types of Dips

The dips can be adjusted according to whether you want to focus more on the chest, shoulder, or triceps. It is amazing how a little change in the form could lead to the growth of three different muscles. Let’s look at the different variants of a simple dip.

3.1 Chest-focused Dips

The Dip is predominantly a chest-dominant exercise. However, to focus more on the chest, a simple dip could be improvised. While performing the dip, lean forward a bit. This places more stress on the pectoralis muscle. The angle enclosed within your torso and the bar should be close to 90 degrees. Try to squeeze your chest in every rep to reap the most benefit.

3.2 Triceps-focused Dip

Triceps branchii is one of the muscles targeted significantly in a Dip. To make it more effective for triceps, try to keep your body at a right angle to the bar. Focus on performing the movement with your arms more. Fully extend and lock your arms at the end of every rep. This triggers the most amount of triceps growth. 

3.3 Bench-Dips

This is the perfect variant of dips to focus on triceps growth. Find a bench first. Sit on the bench with your hands at the side of your body. Extend your legs in front of you. Now lift your body off the bench and hold the bench with extended arms. Your arms should be behind your torso now. Now slowly go down till your arms form a 90-degree angle by your elbow. Hold that for a moment and push back up through your palms back to the starting position. 

3.4 Ring Dips

If you are an experienced lifter and are bored with traditional dips, then Ring dips are for you. If your gym happens to have those gymnastic rings, then you are lucky. To perform a ring dip, grab the rings, and push yourself up. When stabilized, start performing the dips as usual. It is a very difficult movement indeed. It needs a high level of balance and technique to do it correctly. It requires a strong core.

4. Ways to Incorporate Dips in Workout Regime 

Generally, the dips are done on a chest day or an Arms day. Versatility is the virtue of the Dips. They can be incorporated at the start, in between two different exercises, or at the end of the workout. Let’s take a look at them. 

4.1 At the Beginning

Chest Dips can be done at the start of the workout as a warm-up. They are perfect exercises to get your muscles ready for the workout. Generally, bodyweight exercises are done as a warmup for that particular muscle. For example, pull-ups on the back day, dips or push-ups on a chest day, and chin-ups on an arm day. They pump the blood into our muscles and prepare them to handle heavy loads. This keeps our body injury-free and pain-free. 

4.2 In-Between 

Being a versatile movement, Dips can be done in the middle of the workout. Generally, the weighted version of this movement is performed in the middle of the workout. You can make a dip harder by using a weighted belt. To get stronger in the weighted dips move, progressively overload over some time. Perform three sets of 12,10, and 8. Increase weight in each set to challenge yourself.

4.3 At the End

You can end your workout by taking a dip too. They can also act as a perfect workout finisher. When you are exhausted at the end of a workout, dips become more challenging. That’s the moment when you will experience true muscle failure. It also helps in conditioning the muscle. A must-know tip is to only keep a rep goal in mind. No matter how many sets it takes, complete the rep goal that you set. In this way, it becomes the perfect workout finisher.

5. Benefits of Performing Dips

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By Nigel Msipa/ Unsplash copyrights 2020

There are many benefits of performing a Dip. Whether it’s a bench dip or a bar dip, they are beneficial in many ways. These benefits are listed below.

5.1 Adds Muscle Mass

Being a compound movement, they are the best for hypertrophy. You can add the weight and progressively overlap over time. It helps to strengthen the upper body too. Moreover, Dip is a Closed Kinetic Chain exercise as your body moves while your hands are fixed. This makes the opposing muscles work and leads to growth. 

5.2 Best Bodyweight Exercise

It’s the best bodyweight chest exercise, which is one step ahead of push-ups. This is because bodyweight dips allow an individual to lift his whole weight. Whereas, in pushups, you just lift half of your weight. And by nature, if the weight is more, the work done by muscles would also be more. Moreover, doing weighted push-ups is not convenient. However, doing a weighted dip is relatively easier and is less prone to injuries.

5.3 Increases Flexibility

When you perform a dip with a good depth, your mobility increases over time. Moreover, it aids in increasing the flexibility of the wrist and shoulder joints. This increased flexibility further aids in other movements too. 

6. Final Words

Incorporate these cues next time you work out and see the improvements for yourself. Even if you are unable to perform 10 repetitions, continue to do it every other day. Once you can do 12-15 reps, add a weight belt. Challenge yourself continuously. Finally, remember to eat a healthy and protein-rich diet to get stronger on the Dips.

I’m a Physics graduate with a keen interest towards fitness. I have a two year experience in the gym. Before that I used to jog and lost about 10 kgs just by optimising my diet. I have done my fare share of research on fitness and muscle building.

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