The all mighty dip like any other exercise has developed a cult following. Whether it is seated, body weight, or weighted, the dip has earned its place in the bodybuilding lexicon for good reason. The history of the exercise dates back to the advent of sport and physical fitness itself.
The dip is formally categorized as an upper body compound pushing exercise which involves the chest, shoulders, and triceps. The dip is a staple of many bodybuilding and strength training programs for its simplicity and the results it produces.
The dip has even been likened to the “upper body squat,” by the great Mike Mentzer. The equally great Vince Gironda even had his own theories on the creating of a wider chest through the use of what has become known as the “Gironda Dip” and a V shaped Dip bar.
While the 60’s are behind us the dip remains. But working up to Bodyweight dip strength can be accomplished through a number of exercises. If one were to remain faithful to the dip we can always begin with the seated dip with legs on the floor or supported on another bench.
When one deems it time to move on the next stage of dipping the same form used in the seated or legs raised version travels with you. Some form related things to look out for are, that many people seem to just toss their legs up on a bench lock out their knees, and hunch over while pressing out partial reps.
DON’T DO THIS! Take a nice strong posture and press out full reps.
Errors in form need correction and one should be mindful of what a rep that travels through its full range of motion looks like. Some of these miscues will correct themselves when doing an unsupported bodyweight dip, i.e. locking ones knees out on the bench in front or you. Ideally you will just allow your legs to hang comfortably or knees bent to keep ones feet from touching the ground.
On hand spacing:
Ideally one should begin with hands about shoulder width apart allowing for a comfortable decent and ascent. This will take some fiddling to get right. If you stand naturally and allow your hands to hang loosely (palms facing your thighs) at your waist you can use this to find good spacing on a bench or dip station. This will about perfect to start with.
Some may prefer a wider grip than shoulder distance, but be cautious with a “too wide” grip position because the possibility of stressing your Pectoral muscle near its insertion point. Be mindful of this as you ramp up the intensity & volume or suffer the dreaded “Pec tear” that seems all too common in gyms. I’m not your MD or PT, its just a word of caution…
The novelty is in having a greater degree of core muscle activation in that you are controlling your dip motion and very well contracting your abs throughout the movement.
*note: please disregard the second slide 2, I don’t want anyone going crazy with “flying dips”.
Moving beyond the beginner level we are then able to explore the sheer awesomeness that is the weighted Dip! Weighted dips are identical to bodyweight dips with the only difference being the added resistance of weights that are either suspended from the waist by a traditional Dip Belt or in the form of a vest or backpack.
The choice of weight placement is yours, but some considerations may be that a backpack centers the weight somewhat towards your back (as the name would imply) and this may shift your balance and the exercise to become more Triceps dominant or throw off your form completely.
A weighted vest centralizes the weight but not everyone will use one as they are expensive and the higher quality ones somewhat rare. (i.e. firefighter, military, law enforcement training vests)
The standard is having the weight hanging from your waist. (This is my preference in that it allows for fidelity in form and I aim to maintain a tight core throughout)
In any form the dip’s versatility can be matched by few and I even had a friend tell me that while on the job he parked two UN trucks bumper to bumper to set up his Dip Station while out in the field.
Thread: All hail the mighty dip!