There are only a few exercises that can be considered as kings of the gym and dips are one of them. They simultaneously work opposing muscle groups, don’t necessarily require the use of specialized equipment and are simply one of the most effective exercises for building upper body mass and strength. The lack of momentum during the dip movement keeps the muscles contracted throughout, providing a great workout for your triceps, shoulders, chest and lower back.
Here are 5 reasons why every serious lifter should make dips a staple of their weightlifting routine.
#1. Bench press boost
Struggling with bench press plateau? Help yourself to some dips. The dip is an upper body Closed Kinetic Chain (CKC) exercise, which means it involves moving your body while your hands are in a fixed position. As challenging as they are by themselves, regular bodyweight dips can be mastered in no time. After that, you can use many ways to add weight to your body – try holding a dumbbell between your legs or wearing a weighted west.
Increasing the poundage you can move on this exercise will have a direct transfer to your bench pressing strength and power and it will provide you with unique upper body mass gains.
Depending on how you use them, dips can primarily work either your triceps or chest muscles. By leaning the torso forward and letting your elbows flair out to the sides, you can force the chest muscles to take over the work, while remaining upright and keeping the elbows tucked will better target the triceps.
Also, dips can be used effectively both as a lower-rep strength builder and a high-rep hypertrophy move and work great within any type of program. You can place them at the beginning of your chest or triceps routine and perform a lower number of reps with emphasis on the eccentric phase, or you can use them as workout finishers and get a great final pump!
#3. Greater muscle fiber activation
Dips are actually superior to push-ups and many other popular upper body movements when it comes to maximizing muscle fiber recruitment. Many small stabilizer muscles which are typically difficult to isolate or activate properly are worked during dips, as the movement demands a lot of control, balance and coordination.
Also, many studies have shown that dips can make your upper body significantly stronger after a short period of regular training. Dips will strengthen your arms and chest and thereby increase your overall strength training potential on all other exercises.
#4. Don’t need a gym
Don’t like training at a gym? No problem. You don’t have to have access to a dip machine in order to reap the benefits of this exercise – you can buy a basic dip station for your home (they are inexpensive and work great) or simply go out and find a pair of parallel bars that are spaced out to about shoulder width at the nearest park or playground. Even better, if you have a few sturdy chairs of the same height at home, you can also use them to perform dips with some slight form adjustments.
#5. Build a V-taper faster
If you’re looking for a way to build a V-shaped upper body, look no further. Dips, especially of the wide-grip variant, are an underrated chest builder that works extremely well for building the majority of the muscles that contribute to a wide upper body frame.
Furthermore, incorporating dips into your regular routine will prevent your chest from becoming too bulky or unevenly developed, which is a common problem for lifters who spent too much time on pressing movements.
The most powerful dip variant is the one performed on parallel bars.
Start by grasping two parallel bars that are shoulder-width apart. Raise yourself up on the bars with your arms extended and supporting the entire weight of your body, then bend your knees and intertwine your legs. Making sure you’re not leaning forward with your upper body, slowly lower yourself down until your arms form a 90-degree angle and your shoulders are mildly stretched, then push yourself upwards until your arms are straight again by engaging the triceps and shoulders. At the top position, squeeze your arm and chest muscles hard and hold for a count, then repeat the movement.
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Dips are one of the classic upper body blasters that you simply can’t afford to neglect because it will push your upper body development to the next level and give you exactly that edge you’ve been looking for. That being said, they probably shouldn’t serve as your primary pressing exercise – they work better as an addition to an already solid pressing routine. Still, there are countless dip variations that you need to go through until you discover the one that works best for you and your individual goals.