As a compound, bodyweight exercise (targeting multiple muscle groups at the same time), dips focus on strengthening your chest, shoulders, back, triceps, and abdominals. A timeless exercise, alongside that of push-ups, pull-ups, and squats, the dip exercise takes minimal equipment to execute and yet it is one of the most popular and effective exercises that is used to help build upper body strength and mass. Whether you choose to use a chair, a box, a bench, a mounted dip bar, parallettes, or a straight bar, the variety of equipment options that you can purchase or find at home or at the park is limited to your creativity.
Benefits of Straight Bar Dips
As the last exercise in your progression towards a muscle-up, straight bar dips are a step up from the parallel bar dips and are a great exercise to test and challenge your coordination, flexibility, and strength. You should be able to execute at least ten parallel bar dips before taking on the straight bar and completing the same amount of straight bar dips before attempting a muscle-up.
Whereas performing a bench press workout allows for your body to be supported by the bench, straight bar dips require you to stabilize your body, essentially increasing the intensity of your workout. When you engage your core to st
abilize your body, you are using a variety of different muscles in the front, back, and sides of your torso to help maintain proper form and balance.
While they are a challenge on their own, using your bodyweight and coordination, you can increase the challenge by adding a dip belt or weighted vest if you feel the desire to increase the difficulty of the exercise.
Straight bar dips or any dips for that matter will help add muscle definition, size, and tone, more than they will burn a mass amount of calories. With strong shoulders, chest, and back, you will see an increase in your upper body pushing strength and ability as well as an improvement in your posture and they will help limit stiffness, tension, and injury during daily activity and exercise.
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Straight Bar vs. Parallel Bar Dips
While both versions focus on the chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles, there are several differences between executing a dip on a straight bar and doing it on a set of parallel bars. First and foremost is the position of your hands and shoulders, as the parallel bars require one had on each bar, whereas the straight bar has both hands on a single bar. Straight bar dips tend to emphasize more of the chest muscle, whereas the parallel bars will target more of your triceps. When doing straight bar dips, your shoulders will be internally rotated, while the parallel dips will allow your shoulders to remain in a neutral position, one that tends to be more favorable. With regards to your range of motion, straight bar dips will limit you to the level of the bar, unlike the parallel bars which will allow you to lower yourself to 90 degrees or more.
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How to do a Straight Bar Dip
Whether it is single bar dips, or any sort of dips for that matter, it is important that you prepare your body properly to safely and effectively execute the movements and receive full benefits. Warming up and performing exercises for your shoulders, elbows, and wrists are key components to assist in being strong and mobile enough to support nearly all of your body weight.
A proper warmup includes (but not limited to) dynamic stretches such as:
- Arm circles in both directions
- Shoulder shrugs
- Shoulder oscillations
- Wrist rotations
- Back extension and chest expansion stretch
Exercises that can help prepare you for a Single Bar Dip include:
Planks (straight arm, forearm, and reverse).
These exercises will help strengthen your wrists, arms, shoulders, chest, and core. The reverse plank will specifically focus on assisting with stretching your shoulder extension
As they target many of the same major muscle groups as dips, push-ups are a great bodyweight exercise to help strengthen your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core.
Straight Bar Dip (proper form)
- Hoist yourself up on the bar (with the assistance of a box if needed), lock your elbows to a straight arm position with the bar approximately even with your waist. With both hands on the bar slightly further than the width of your hips, hold onto the bar with a pronated grip. The more narrow your grip, the harder the exercise will be as it focuses more on the triceps, whereas a wider grip targets the chest.
- As you unlock your elbows and begin to lower yourself, lean slightly over the bar and lower until your forearms are almost parallel with the floor. Your legs may come forward (forming a slight “C” shape with your body) to assist with balance.
- Aim to touch your chest to the bar for a full range of motion before returning to the top.
- Focus on inhaling on the downward motion and inhaling on the way up.
- Keep your glutes activated and point your toes forward with your legs pressed together
Avoid These Mistakes!
- If you have a history of a shoulder injury, you may want to avoid doing any sort of dip exercise, especially ones that focus on the AC joint as the movement puts the shoulder joint in a less than ideal position.
- As dips will place strain on the shoulder and elbows, schedule recovery days in between your dip exercises
- Make sure that your shoulders do not shrug up to your ears and that your arms/elbow do not flare out. Your elbows should be pointing straight behind you all the way through the lowering phase and once you reach the bottom.
- Do not let your head jut forward on the decent, keep a straight neck, and hold your head upright.
It is important to slowly progress into the straight bar dips by making sure that you can perform a decent amount of proper parallel bar dips (8-16 reps). Following successful execution of the straight bar dips exercise, look to add a Korean dip to your routine on your way to adding a strict muscle-up to your workout program.
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