Dips are a strength exercise that originated in gymnastics. This exercise is ideal for developing and building strength and muscle in the upper body. Dips are not only seen at any gym! They are also an integral part of every bodyweight workout. This can be attributed, among other things, to the enormous effectiveness of the exercise. Another advantage, is that all you need to be able to do them, is a dip bar or something similar.
In this article, we will introduce you to dips in detail; we will take a look at the muscles involved in the exercise as well as the correct execution and the two dip variations, and explain the common mistakes you need to avoid during your dip workout. We will also introduce you to various dip bars and different places where you can perform dips. Last but not least, you will learn about other exercises that you can do with an appropriate exercise device, so that you can achieve a comprehensive whole-body workout. We wish you lots of fun reading this article, and even more success for your workouts!
The basic exercise on the dip bar – what are dips?
Dips have progressed from gymnastics to bodybuilding, and finally, to bodyweight training. This fitness exercise primarily involves the triceps, the pectoralis major and the front section of the deltoid muscle, but other muscles are also involved in the movement, so they are also strengthened on the dip bar. The following individual muscles are worked:
- Pectoralis major
- Front section of the deltoid muscle
- Anconeus muscle
- Extensor carpi radialis brevis
- Extensor carpi radialis longus
- Extensor carpi ulnaris
- Extensor digiti minimi
- Extensor digitorum
Note: Coping with one's own body weight on the dip bar requires enormous effort, therefore the exercise is mostly suited to advanced athletes with strong triceps.
How to do dips
Support your weight on the dip bar by grabbing the bars in a neutral grip position. Extend your arms almost fully. The emphasis, however, is on almost! This means that your elbows should remain slightly flexed, so as not to overload the joints. Depending on the desired effect of the workout, you now have two options to choose from:
Choices of body positions for dips:
1st Position (workout focus is on the chest).
If you primarily want to work your chest on the dip bar, you need to put your chin on your chest in the starting position; bend your knees at right-angles to the back and incline the torso to the front. When lowering your body, your elbows must move out to the sides.
2nd Position (workout focus is on the triceps).
If you got your dip bar to pump your triceps, your torso remains straight in the starting position, and your head faces dead front i.e. your chin is NOT on your chest. Stretch your legs straight downwards, and keep your elbows as close to your body as possible throughout the exercise: your elbows point to the back, and not to the sides.
Irrespective of the version you choose, you should hollow your lower back slightly, in order to protect your intervertebral discs. Start the movement by inhaling as you lower your body, by means of controlled flexion of your arms. As soon as your upper arms and forearms form a 90° angle, i.e. when your upper arms are parallel to the ground, you have reached the end of the first phase of the movement. Now, breathe out as you push your way up by stretching your arms on the dip bar. Be careful not to stretch your elbows completely at the end of this phase!
Dips: The following mistakes should be avoided
In the long run, the most painful mistake you can make on the dip bar is to bend your arms too far in the downward movement: If the angle between the upper and lower arms drops below 90, the shoulder area and the elbow joints are subjected to extreme stress. This results in prolonged problems in these areas.
Tip: There are some trainers who are quite convinced that dropping below the 90° angle results in greater workout effects. However, scientific sports studies prove the opposite. In other words "deep" dips endanger your health without bringing about better workout results.
Options for doing dips
In the following sections we will introduce you to the different ways that you can do dips. Thanks to the large selection of suitable equipment, you are sure to find the right training partner for your needs!
The pull-up & dip bar
The world's first mobile pull-up and dip bar from Pullup & Dip offers you an unbeatable selection of exercises: With this device, you can do more than just pull-ups and dips. You can also perform effective abdominal training, biceps training and various other exercises. This training partner is made of high-quality steel and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Train whenever and wherever you want to, and be independent of the gym or other training areas!
Find out more about our dip bars here!
Dip bars for wall-mounting
A wall-mounted dip bar is also suitable for a comprehensive upper body workout. Although the device is not quite as flexible as the mobile pull-up and dip bar, it can also be used for a wide variety of upper body exercises. Since the necessary fixing material is usually included within the scope of delivery, you only have to attach it to the wall, and you can start your workout right away!
Tip: When buying a training device like this, make sure that the material and workmanship are of a high quality.
Free-standing dip bars
A free-standing dip bar offers you somewhere to do dips, push-ups and other exercises. In order for the device to withstand the stresses during a workout, it must be made of robust material. Note that this type of bar takes up much more space than a wall-mounted model or a mobile pull-up and dip bar.
Dips on gym rings
In terms of the sequence of movements, ring dips are identical to the exercise on the dip bar. The muscles used are also the same. Nevertheless, there is a major difference between the two approaches. Dips on gymnastics rings are much more difficult to perform, due to the instability of the rings, because all of the muscle groups must interact, so that the movement can be performed correctly. With gymnastics rings as a training partner, you not only increase your strength and build muscles, but you also enhance your intra and intermuscular coordination. This has a positive effect on various other everyday movements!
Good to know: If you suffer from pain or an unpleasant feeling of pressure in the chest/shoulder area on the dip bar, you will find the dips with gymnastics rings to be a valuable orthopaedic alternative.
Dips on free-standing pull-up and dip bars
The free-standing pull-up and dip bar is not significantly different from a freestanding dip bar. But unlike the latter, it gives you the option of supplementing your training with pull-ups and, depending on how you do them, other exercises as well.
Dips with high parallettes
High parallettes are basically nothing more than free-standing dip bars. Because they need to be as robust as possible, they are usually made of metal; bars of wood or other “soft” materials are easy to grasp, and make the exercise more comfortable. Because it is possible to vary the distance between the bars, they can be used for many other exercises, besides dips. Therefore, this device enables comprehensive calisthenic and cross-fit workouts.
Dips with medium parallettes
Besides the high parallettes, there are also the medium parallettes. These are also ideal as dip bars. Because they are lower, they allow you to put your feet on the ground during your workout, which makes the dips easier. If you want to step the exercise up a notch, you can, for example, put your arms on the floor and place your legs on the parallettes. This way, your arms have to support more weight.
Check out our parallettes here!
Dip bars in the calisthenics park
Every good calisthenics park has a dip bar or something similar: it is the perfect place to do your comprehensive full-body workout!
Other exercises on the dip bar
There are many other exercises, besides dips, that can be done on a dip bar or any of the devices described above. In the following section, we will introduce you to some popular exercises.
L-sits are a little complex, but they are a very effective core exercise. In addition to the abdominal muscles, this special exercise works your thighs and the hip flexor muscle in particular.
Leg or knee lifts
Leg or knee lifts are common abdominal exercises. Leg lifts are a dynamic version of L-sits.
The handstand is oftenunderestimated as a bodyweight exercise, but it offers enormous added value for general strength and coordination. Since the exercise is highly effective, especially in the shoulder girdle area, it is the ideal preliminary exercise for various difficult calisthenic exercises, such as the front lever or the human flag.
Bodyweight rowing on the dip bar works the core, the upper back, the biceps and other muscle groups. Depending on how tall you are, you might have to tilt your head slightly to the side, to avoid bumping into the wall.
The reverse deadlift is an exercise that strengthens your abdominal muscles, your latissimus, your buttocks and other muscles. Your height can also have a limiting effect here.
The dip bar as a workout partner – final remarks
Now you know how to do dips correctly and which muscles are involved. You also know two different body positions that enable you to shift the training focus (chest or triceps). Avoid the typical mistakes on the dip bar and choose the perfect device for your workouts, that enables you to do not only dips, but also many other exercises. And always remember: "If it does not challenge you, it will not change you"!
Are you looking for a suitable dip and pull-up bar to train all different kinds of exercises? We at Pullup & Dip offer you various high quality and unique pull-up and dip bars. Go check them out now!