Targets: Chest & Triceps
Required: Parallel Bars
Optional: Weight Belt/Dumbbell
Chest Dips Form:
Raise yourself up onto a pair of parallel bars.
With your elbows slightly outward tilt your torso forward by looking ahead and bringing your legs up behind you.
From this position contract your arms while maintaining this slight angle in your torso, this ensures we're targeting the chest and not the triceps as our primary muscle group.
Lower yourself down as far as possible, hold this contraction for 1 second.
Driving through your chest explode upward and extend your arms to return yourself to the starting position above your parallel bars.
Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, add a dumbbell between your legs or strap on a weight belt when possible.
Chest Dips Variations
Very similar to the chest dips (it comes as no surprise that many guys don't actually realize that there are multiple variations of dips!) the triceps dip opts for a more upright position with a closer grip on the parallel bars - your arms will stay by your sides and go behind you as opposed to slightly flaring out due to the wider grip as on the chest dips.
The triceps dip is one of the best mass builder for the triceps as the load it places on the targeted muscle cannot be replicated by minuscule isolation exercises such as the dumbbell triceps kickback.
Common Chest Dips Mistakes
Swaying Between Reps
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.
Dipping Too Fast
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.
Similar & Substitute Exercises
- Barbell Bench Press
- Dumbbell Flies