The Down Low On Dips...
Are You Making Any Of These 8 Common Dip Mistakes?
Dip Mistake 1 - Not Understanding Different Dip Variations
The chest dip relies on a forward lean that allows you to push through the chest, this angle is to maintained for the duration of your set.
This is the most common mistake I see being made on the chest dip, in order to maintain the correct angle to target the chest as opposed to working solely on the triceps you need to keep your legs back and your core tight for the duration of your set, if you're disengaging your core and lowering your legs you'll soon find yourself swaying forwards and backwards after a couple of reps - this takes the tension off your chest, which we ideally want to keep constant.
Whether you're doing chest dips or triceps dips is irrelevant, a full range of motion should be utilized.
Lowering yourself half way down or doing only the bottom half of the movement (maintaining a large bend in your arms) is not the way to go - professional bodybuilders work in a very small range of motion... but professional bodybuilders are also injecting themselves with large quantities of anabolic steroids, how they train is not necessarily how you should train.
This is quite rare to see, however still worth noting.
At the opposite end of the range of motion spectrum we've got the excessive range of motion issue.
If you're lowering yourself to an extreme at the bottom portion of your dip you'll run the risk of injuring your shoulders and joints - as the weight will be moved off of your chest/triceps once such a plain of movement is entered.
Building muscle and in this case, stimulating your chest and triceps is a matter of time under tension.
We overload our muscles (promoting size and strength gains) via constant increases of this tension.
Focus on working with a 2 -1 - 2 tempo.
It should take you 2 seconds to lift the weight, you should pause for a 1 second isometric hold at the top of your movement before taking 2 seconds to lower back to the original position.
Performing 3 sets of 10 reps of bodyweight dips week in week out will assist in maintaining the muscle mass you have... but don't expect any additional progress.
Get a dip belt or hold a dumbbell between your legs and focus on building strength in the lower rep range - when you're able to dip an additional 45lbs for 8 - 10 reps you won't have to worry about the size of your chest or triceps anymore as they'll take care of themselves...
Your shoulders should be tucked in to ensure you're isolating your chest and triceps, the flaring of the elbows is generally a sign that you're attempting to recruit your shoulders to assist in the movement.
If you find your elbows flaring out towards the end of your set of bodyweight dips instead of battling through those questionable reps jump up into position and perform several negative reps to overload the muscle, ensuring your elbows remain tucked in.