Bodyweight Dips are a compound upper-body movement often touted as the “upper-body Squat.” This popular exercise builds up not only your chest, but also your shoulders and triceps.
They are a wonderful all-inclusive power and mass builder for the upper body. In addition, they are a great strength booster for any style of pressing bench, incline, shoulder, etc. It is truly an impressive feat to bang out lots of reps with lots of weight hanging around your waist. If nothing else bodyweight dips will give you impressive upper-body development, strength and respect from others.
The trouble is that many people who start training can’t even do one Dip. Like not even close. My goal with this article is to shorten the learning curve and get you reppin’ Dips as quickly as possible. I will propose some simple to apply tips that anyone can do and you will be looking for the dip belt in no time.
One note of caution: You should avoid Dips if you have shoulder health issues or play an overhead sport, such baseball or tennis.
Drop the fat
Fat is dead weight. It does nothing for you except pound on your joints and slow you down. The Bodyweight Dip rewards people with “relative strength,” meaning if you are lean and strong Dips will be no problem. If you are big and strong and carry lots of extra adipose tissue Dips will be much more difficult.
Make it easier on yourself and lose the fat. I like a simple leveraged approach when it comes to fat loss. Aim your workouts on building lean muscle tissue. Remember, every ounce of lean muscle tissue burns a certain number of calories around the clock automatically. Muscle burns calories while you sleep, eat, work and exercise. Fat loss is easy if you focus on maximizing lean muscle mass and just eat a little less.
Don’t make it hard and complicated; it is that simple. Most diets out there work, but stick with one and see it through. The main point is if you look in the mirror and see fat adjust your eating and workouts to get rid of it. Bodyweight dips will become much easier to master.
Can you do several regular Push-Ups with good form? If not, start there. Get to where you can knock out 20-30 in a row with no problem. Always do them with perfect form and full range of motion. This is laying the foundation. Many times people want to rush to the advanced stuff without first laying a solid foundation. Don’t be foolish like that.
And of course, make sure you know how to perform Dips with perfect form.
Trust the Process
I am not going to make this complicated. Here is a simple progression to successfully master Dips very quickly. Sample workouts will be provided at the end.
- Start with Push-Ups, good form, 30 reps in a row
- Progress to Decline Push-Ups on a bar in a rack (in video)
- Negative Dips with body weight, 6-8 second eccentric (down portion)
- Negative Dips with additional weight, 6-8 second eccentric (down portion)
- Bodyweight dips
- Weighted dips
Decline Push-Ups on a Bar
Although your body is elevated, this feels just like a Decline Bench Press. I love this one because it teaches you how to work with your body weight. Many times people are kind of in shock when they first feel and attempt to lift their body weight. This drill gives you the feel, coordination and the practice needed to do a dipping motion with your body weight. See video for demonstration.
Negative Dips and Weighted Negative Dips
Start at the top and control yourself down. Go down in excellent control for 6-8 seconds. Jump up to top position and repeat. This technique will make you sore, so you don’t need to do tons of reps. I’d say keep it around 12-20 good controlled, slow reps. This again gives you the feeling of moving your body weight through space. Once you get good at these, add weight on a dip belt. Once you can do negatives with additional weight, Bodyweight Dips will very soon follow.
Now you can do Bodyweight Dips. Do them right always. Never do half reps, as you will never know if you are actually getting any stronger. Once you can do quite a few get a dip belt and start adding additional weight.
Ditch the Bands
People sometimes use resistance bands for Pull-Ups and Dips. Although this practice can help you feel the range of motion, there is one major problem. Anyone who has done Dips or Pull-Ups would surely agree that the hardest portion is when you are at the rock bottom of the movement. The trouble with the bands is this is exactly where they give you the most help because of the spring of the elasticity. When using bands you never really feel your body weight in the hardest portion of the movement. When the time comes to try without the band it is usually a fail or a wild half rep. With negatives you get comfortable feeling your body weight plus more if you add weight in that rock bottom position.
Lift With Your Brain
In recent years, it seems using the mind-to-muscle connection while lifting has become a lost art. Many times this is the case with Dips. Jerky, spastic reps are common. There are several reasons why this is a bad idea. For instance, if you look like you are taking part in a frog leaping contest while doing Dips, you are certainly doing them wrong. Check your ego and take your time using these tips to actually get strong enough to knock out really clean and controlled reps. Don’t try to fake it by violently jerking your body around and doing half reps—this is a surefire way to an injury.
Lifting with your brain is really quite simple. Focus with laser intensity on the muscles you are using. Strive to feel every stretch and the contraction of the target muscles. Do not just go through the motions or rush to get it over with. Feeling and focusing on this is what creates the mind-to-muscle connection. If you have never focused on this it may take several sessions to practice and get the feel of it. Trust me it is well worth your time.
Dip Specific Workout 1
Negative Dip – 4×4
- 6-8 second eccentric
- Add weight if needed
Decline Push-Ups – 3×12
- With a bar in the rack
- Focus on lower chest and triceps
- Feel and control your bodyweight moving through space
Bodyweight Push-Ups – 3xMax
Dip Specific Workout 2
Complete 4 Sets In Circuit Fashion.
Negative Dips x 4 reps
- 6-8 second eccentric
- Add weight if needed
Decline Push-Ups x 12 reps
Push-Ups x Max reps
Rest 60-90 seconds before repeating.