Depending on the type of training you are doing, dips are one of the exercises that can often be easily forgotten, but are a great addition to your chest, shoulders and arm day workouts. Whether you are in a gym or outside or at home, there is always a piece of equipment around that you can use to add dips to any workout routine.
Benefit Of Dips:
Dips are an exercise that uses your own bodyweight (you can add additional weight if you are looking for a more advanced exercise). When executed properly, dips are one of the best exercises for your upper body. As a compound exercise (targeting more than one muscle group), dips are great for challenging a number of your upper body muscles all at the same time. By working the same muscle groups used doing dips, other exercises like bench press, chin-ups and push-ups will see a benefit from the strength and flexibility involved in performing dips.
What Muscles Are Being Used?
Whether you are doing chest or triceps focused dips, many of the targeted upper body muscle groups are the same, focusing on the chest, shoulders, arms and back. Keep in mind that your abdominals and glutes are being used throughout either version of the exercise in order to help stabilize your body. However depending on the form of dips that you are working on, specific muscle groups and synergists (muscles that stabilize a joint and help create the movement) are being used.
|Pectoralis Major (Chest/Lower Pectorals)||Anterior Deltoid (Front Shoulder)|
|Triceps Brachii (Back of Arm)|
|Pectoralis Minor (Chest)|
|Rhomboids (Middle Inner Back)|
|Levator Scapulae (Upper Shoulder/Neck)|
|Latissimus Dorsi (Middle Outer Back)|
|Teres Major (Outer Back)|
|Triceps Brachii||Anterior Deltoid|
|Pectoralis Minor (Chest)|
|Biceps Brachii (Front of Arm)|
How To Do Dips With Proper Form:
One of the main reasons why people tend to shy away from doing dips is that often they do it incorrectly and therefore suffer from sore shoulders. Hey, if it hurts, don’t do it, right? Did you also know that there is a difference between doing a chest dip and a triceps dip?
• Using parallel bars, hoist yourself up so that your arms are fully extending straight down, wrists slightly behind shoulders
• Make sure your abs and glutes are activated in order to stabilize your body from swinging
• Bend your knees, you may cross your feet over for comfort.
• Lean your chest forward, approximately 30 degrees. Ideally your body will form a “L” shape.
• As you descend into your dip, allow your elbows to flare out slightly, continue until your shoulders are slightly lower than your elbows and you feel a slight stretch in your chest muscles.
• Using parallel bars, hoist yourself up so that your arms are fully extended straight down, wrists under shoulders.
• Contract your abs and glutes to stabilize your body.
• Depending on your height, you may bend your knees and cross your feet over for comfort, however the ideal position is to have your feet below your body.
• Keep your head and chest upright as you slowly lower your torso. Lower yourself as far as your shoulder flexibility will allow. Your ideal range is until your upper arm is parallel with the floor. Do not go any lower than this as it may result in injury.
• Do not allow your elbows to flare, keep your arms tight to your sides. Your shoulders will drop slightly lower than the elbow at the bottom of your dip
The great thing about dips is that they are an exercise that almost anyone can do, primarily because of the vast amounts of variations and equipment that can be used. For our purposes, we will focus on four other variations to the already mentioned chest and triceps dips. Just remember, many of these variations should only be attempted and performed if you have already mastered the basic versions in order to prevent potential injury.
Band Assisted Dips:
For those who are new to dips and want to advance passed negative dips, using support bands to assist you is a great way to complete the full range of motion. Depending on your skill level, a thinner band is more challenging, whereas a thicker band is easier. Loop each end of the band around each arm of a dip bar. Step down onto the band with one foot and then raise your body up on the dip bar. Place your other foot on the band (you may choose to use your knees instead of your feet depending if you are targeting your triceps or chest). The exercise band will act as a sling-shot and assist with returning you to the top.
If regular dips have become too easy, an advanced variation is the weighted dip. Whether you strap on a dip belt and weighted plate or a weight vest or get creative by throwing on a heavy backpack or holding a dumbbell between your ankles, the options for adding resistance are plentiful. Because the weight will need to hang from your waist, weighted dips are usually performed with parallel bars or off a dip station. With the weight set to hang in front of your body, slowly perform the same movement pattern that you would for a regular chest dip.
If you choose to use a weight vest or heavy backpack, the distribution of the weight is obviously located on your upper body as opposed to your core area. This could potentially cause limited range of motion or become uncomfortable in the shoulder area. If you are choosing to use the weighted vest for other parts of your workout, it is a great option, as is the backpack if you do not have access to a dip belt.
Chances are whether it be in the gym or at the park or even in your own home, you have either seen or done bench dips. The problem with this variation is that it is one of the more dangerous choices you can make for a dip workout as it can do significant damage to your shoulder and neck. Imagine shrugging your shoulders, they move up towards your ears. Now as you do your bench dip, you are adding body weight pressure into your shoulder socket, which causes the pain issue. For proper positioning, make sure your shoulders are externally rotated, keeping them down and back. This is helped by the positioning of your hands (make sure your fingers are pointing away from your body to the side). Some people may choose to add variations to their bench dips with elevating their feet or adding weighted plates on your lap.
One of the more challenging forms of dips for even the most advanced athlete, ring dips due to their instable set up require highly controlled movement patterns in order to not only reap maximum benefits, but more importantly remain safe from any injuries. Using gymnastic rings place less stress on the shoulders, elbows and wrists than other dip exercises due to the fact that the rings individually move to the size of the person using them, allowing for a more naturally position. If you have advanced to ring dips, they are a great progression step towards other ring workouts such as the Muscle-Up.
Precaution and Injuries:
Due to the nature of dips, as mentioned one of the biggest causes for concern is the position of the shoulders and the amount of weight that gets placed on them when doing dips incorrectly. Remember, you are lifting your body weight, so if you are new to working out or are unable to lift your weight, chance are you won’t be able to correctly do a dip. One of the best alternatives is to do a negative dip, which means you only work your body on the way down. Set yourself up in a proper dip position and slowly lower yourself, when your shoulders get to be below your elbows, place your feet on the floor. Then start again. Eventually you will become strong enough to raise yourself up.
There are various body parts that can start to experience pain or are subjectable to injury when performing dips if you do them incorrectly. Chest, shoulders and wrists can all easily become sore or injured if you fail to execute the exercise with proper form. If you round your upper back, chances are you will feel pain and soreness in your collarbone and chest area. If you roll your shoulders forward or allow them to shrug upwards, you need to reset your shoulders down and back otherwise you could be in serious discomfort and potential risk of injury.
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