Why Dips Are The Best Chest Exercise
When it comes to building chest muscles, most people will think of the Bench Press first. But if you do them right, Dips can give you much more benefits.
For best chest building results you’ll need to learn how to perform Dips that target the chest more than the triceps.
Here’s what you need to know about Dips:
- Benefits of the Dips exercise
- The right form for Chest Dips
- How to load progressively
Scroll down for details, or check out the video summary below.
Benefits of Dips
- More effective in targeting chest - Most lifters don't feel the Bench Press in their chest. Usually the front shoulders get tired before the chest. Also, most men can easily build up their Bench numbers, but they don't get a big chest.
- More muscle groups activated - During dips, your upper body is not supported by the bench and your feet are off the ground. It requires more stabilisation and activates more muscles groups.
- Wider chest development - The Dips are great in targeting the outer chest. This kind of exercise makes your chest look not only bigger, but also wider. For more info see the Ultimate Chest Guide article.
- Functional movement - The skill and strength you build with Dips will transfer to any athletic activity in which you have to master your own bodyweight.
The right form for Chest Dips
Set up for Dips that target the chest:
- Lean forward
- Put your elbows a little bit wider than your shoulders
- Move knees slightly forward, so your body is shaped like a "C"
- Contract your abs to maintain the position
- Keep your head in line with your spine as you go down
Form demonstration by IG @pt.evolution
Avoid these mistakes:
- Keep your shoulders in place - Contract your upper back so that your shoulders don’t move forward as you go down.
- No swinging or bouncing - If it the move is not completely smooth, you’re doing it wrong. If it’s too hard for you, reduce the range of motion until you get a bit stronger.
- Don’t lock the elbows on top - Stop just a little bit before full lock out.
How to load progressively
When Dips become too easy, try one of the following:
- Slow down the reps - try counting as you go down 5 seconds, up 3 seconds
- Do static holds at the bottom part of the Dip for 3-6 seconds
- Put a heavy-loaded backpack on your back
What if you can’t do a Dip yet?
Practice the “negatives”.
Jump up on the parallel bars and slowly lower yourself down. Only go as low as you feel stable and without pain. As you get stronger you will increase your range of motion.
Remember, aim to train to be able to go slightly below 90 degrees. There’s no need to dip as low as possible.
Does it mean you have to avoid the Bench Press?
No. If you like lifting heavy and focus on strength more than overall chest building, Bench is a good choice. If you can, combine both. You’ll be surprised how working on your Dips can actually help you lift heavier in Bench Press.
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By leaning forward while doing Dips you put more focus on your chest muscles. That way Dips efficiently build your chest and make it wider. Because of no back or foot support, doing Dips activates a lot of stabilising muscles. There are ways to make Dips harder. Either by using static holds and slow reps, or adding weights.