Dip Exercise Guide | Why You Must Do It

dip exercise guide

The dip exercise, like the bench press, uses almost all the muscles of the upper body that is responsible for pushing. That is why it is such a powerful exercise to build muscle mass and strength. Furthermore, it enhances the mobility of the shoulders and stretches the chest.

Since it is a compound and a rather tough move, it is not recommended for total beginners. For them, it is suggested to use the assisted dip machine at the beginning that allows them to take off from their full bodyweight making the move easier and safer to perform.

Did you know that dip with weights is sometimes called the “upper body squat”? It is a good name for it since weighted dips are as powerful for the upper body as the squat for the lower.

Buying tip: Best dip stations for home reviews


Benefits of Dips Workout & Muscles Worked

What do dips work? They mainly work the pushing upper body muscles such as the chest, triceps, and deltoid. But the biceps, lower arms and trapezius muscles are also engaged a little bit.

The great benefit is that by changing the position of our body, we can focus on a particular muscle group more. If we lean forward more during the move, the pecs muscles used in dips work more (dips for chest mass). And if the body is straight we can focus on the triceps.

chest dips vs tricep dips

Types of dips exercise


Related: Learn the proper chest dips form here

How to Do Dip Exercise Correctly

Starting Position

Grab the parallel bars in a natural position. Jump to the starting position where your elbows are tight and push your shoulders slightly down. Your torso should be almost vertical, but here comes the option if you want to train our chest and triceps more depending of the angle. Your legs should bend slightly at the knees.


While you keep the tightness of the shoulders and the vertical position of the torso, lower your body by bending the arms. Go down until your forearms are parallel with bars. From this position push yourself back to the starting position until the elbows are almost straight. There is no need to stretch your elbows too much. It may lead to injury.

Correct breathing

Breathe in when you go down and exhale when you push yourself up.

Here is the video tutorial


Typical Mistakes

  • Avoid swinging your body. If you want to gain strength and mass, your should avoid using momentum.
  • Another typical mistake is when people go down too deeply. That is dangerous even for experienced trainers and can lead to shoulder sprain or chest muscle tear. For beginners going down deep is not allowed at all.


More Tips

If you are strong enough to perform 15-20 accurate moves with your own bodyweight, you can start performing arm dips with weights for extra resistance. At the beginning just use maximum 10-20 pounds weight plates hung on the belt with chains, but I think a weight vest is more comfortable than that. As you get stronger, increase the amount of weight gradually. Some trainers can use an extra weight like his own weight.

I think, one of the best dip exercise alternatives is using the gym ring. This variation makes you even stronger since your body is not stabilized by the dip bars, your shoulder and lower arm muscles should work more to keep the proper position and balance. This strength training makes your grip and hands firm.


Doing Tricep Dips Exercise at Home

Well, you can do the dip exercise at home by using the backrest of two chairs, but it not really safe. I did it, but it is much better if you get dip bars for home. It does not cost a lot of money.

Another alternative is the power tower that comes with a dip stand plus a pull up section, so if you want to do bodyweight exercises at home, it is the best buy for sure.

If you are not strong enough yet to perform it correctly, you can use an assisted dip exercise equipment or do bench dips (when you place your arms behind you on a bench, lower your body and then lift it up).

(You can check out the best equipment by clicking on the links above.)



Are chair dips effective?

Of course, it is an easier variation that way perfect for beginners to get used to the move.

Bodyweight dips vs push ups?

Both of them are very powerful bodyweight exercises for the upper body. By doing push ups, you can target your chest.


Without a doubt it is a valuable exercise for the upper body as pull up, squat, push up or bench press, no matter if you do calisthenics or bodybuilding. So, I strongly recommend to include it in your workout routine. If you have any questions, feel free to ask below.

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James Wright

James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

2 thoughts on “Dip Exercise Guide | Why You Must Do It”

  1. Let’s say that I base my workouts around dips and pull-ups/chins only (I’d workout outdoors in a public playground. No free weights), would I develop a well balanced upper body?
    I’m concerned about shoulders and traps. Would they have enough stimulation?

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