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Dips are a truly underrated exercise in gyms, well proper dips are anyway!
There are a lot of people who go around with weighted dip belts who perform slight elbow bends, but there is no point in counting these as they are achieving nothing.
In this article we will be looking at both chest dips and tricep dips and seeing how best to effectively add them to a training program.
Exercise #1. The Chest Dip
The chest dip is a great exercise for the Pectorals, Deltoids, Triceps Brachii, and the Anconeus muscle (a small muscle at the elbow joint).
To perform them you need a pair of parallel bars. Grab a bar in each hand and lift yourself up so that your feet are off the ground and your body is suspended between them.
Lean forward slightly and cross your feet behind you, now lower your body down by bending your arms at the elbows. When your chest is level with the bars you should pause and then drive your body back up to the starting point. That is one rep.
You can make the exercise easier by using a dip machine (if your gym has one available) or utilising a spotter who can help you get back up.
To make the exercise more difficult you can use a weighted dipping belt or weighted vert. Or you can place a dumbbell between your legs. If you are going down that route just make sure that you are still using the full range of motion throughout.
Exercise #2. The Tricep Dip
This is a variation of the chest dip, and it is fairly easy to make the adjustment.
Perform the dip exactly the same as usual but this time make sure you are upright rather than leaning forward slightly.
Another way to do tricep dips is to get two benches and place them parallel to each other. Put your feet on one of the benches and sit on the other bench with your hands either side of your waist.
Now lift yourself off the bench slightly (whilst keeping your feet on the other bench), shuffle forward slightly and then lower yourself down until your triceps are parallel to the bench.
Pause and then raise yourself up again. This variation is quite a bit easier, and you can make it easier still by placing your feet on the floor rather than on another bench.
So why should you add these exercises into your program?
Dips are better for chest development than the bench press, a bold statement but bare with it.
When we talk about exercises being effective most of the time we talk about the range of motion, a shallow bench press where the bar travels barely anywhere is a bad bench press.
Now a dip works the pectoral muscles in a similar way to a bench press but allows for a slightly larger range of motion. Also, when dipping the Trapezius muscles are worked to a greater degree than they are in a bench press.
What to do if you can't manage a dip yet
Your best bet is a dipping machine, but if one is not available then there are a couple of other options.
You can perform eccentric-only versions where you lower yourself down as slowly as possible but don't raise yourself up again.
Another variation that could prove useful is to attach a resistance band to the parallel bars and then place your knees on the band. This way you can lower yourself down as usual but the resistance band will help you to raise yourself back up afterwards.
How to add dips into a good program
There will be a temptation to pair dips with bench press and other chest exercises but this isn't actually the best way of doing things.
What you should do instead is train bench press on one day and dips on another, this is because they are both very similar exercises.
You'll tire your delts out, your triceps will be on fire, and your chest will burn. All good things in a workout, but putting two similar exercises next to each other means that the second exercise will suffer in quality.
Try performing bench on one session with flyes and some tricep and shoulder work, then on the other session you can perform dips, some close-grip bench press, and possibly some face pulls so that you can strengthen the anterior deltoids.
When it comes to tricep dips (using the two benches) you could easily add them in as a tricep finisher exercise, or as part of an arms superset. So you could pair tricep dips with barbell bicep curls, or dumbbell hammer curls.
However you do it, try adding some dips into your routine. They may be difficult but they can really help build bigger and stronger muscles in record time.