Dips Exercise

Dips Exercise

You’ve undoubtedly heard of the dips exercise. As one of the most popular movements for the chest, countless trainees include dips in their training to build more muscle, get stronger, and improve their balance.

But what exactly are dips, what benefits does the exercise offer, and what are some ways to perform the movement?

Let’s discuss.

What are Dips?

Dips are a bodyweight exercise that strengthens your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Depending on how you perform them, dips can emphasize the chest or triceps.

The primary way to train dips is on a set of parallel bars or a bench:

  1. Step up on a platform and grab the parallel bars while keeping your arms to your sides and elbows extended.
  2. Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and squeeze your glutes.
  3. Step off the platform to suspend yourself in the air and lean forward slightly.
  4. Take a breath and lower yourself (‘dip’) by bending your elbows.
  5. Move down until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, and pause for a moment.
  6. Extend your elbows to bring yourself back to the top, exhaling near the top.
  7. Take another breath and repeat.


Dips On Parallel Bar

Chest Dips

Dips On a Chair

Tricep Dips With One Chair

Dips On a Bench

Tricep Dips

Dips on the Floor

Tricep Dips on the Floor

What Muscles Do Dips Work?

Almost every dip variation trains your chest, shoulders, and triceps to some degree. The standard dip on parallel bars works your chest, but it also develops your shoulders, triceps, and serratus anterior. (1)

The chest (pecs) is among the largest muscle groups in the upper body. Your pecs cover the upper front side of your torso and insert into the humerus (upper arm bone). The muscle plays a huge role in numerous arm motions, including pressing weight away from yourself. (2)

Your triceps make up the rear of your upper arms and produce elbow extension (straightening of the arm), which allows you to press yourself up during dips. Similarly, the shoulders provide stability, and the anterior deltoid head assists the pecs and triceps during dips.

Different Ways of Doing the Dips Exercise

The primary way to perform dips is on a pair of parallel bars. The objective is to grab the bars with your arms close to your body and perform the movements. We shared step-by-step instructions for that version above.

Alternatively, you can perform bench or chair dips. Position yourself against a sturdy gym bench or chair, place your hands on its edge, extend your body, and move up and down by engaging your triceps.

The third popular option is to perform dips on a straight bar. For instance, you can muscle up on a pull-up bar and perform dips by bending and extending your arms. That variation is more advanced compared to the other ones.

Safety Precautions for Dips (Don’t Ignore These)

Something to remember for a safe dips exercise is to use sturdy objects. For instance, if you want to do chair dips at home, place the chair against a wall to prevent it from sliding back and causing you to fall. The same goes for a gym bench––ensure it can support your weight before leaning back.

The second thing to remember is to warm up incredibly well before doing any dip variation. Your joints are under some stress because you have to support your entire body weight, so prepare your shoulders, elbows, and wrists well. Start with some low-intensity cardio to get your blood flowing, and continue with some dynamic activities, such as arm swings and wrist rotations.

Click to return to the bodyweight exercise and also to check the muscles that dips work. Click here to  check our video library of bodyweight exercises.

Philip Stefanov

Philip Stefanov

Philip is a fitness writer, blogger, certified personal trainer, and the founder of ThinkingLifter.com. He has spent the last nine years writing fitness content and training men and women in the gym, as well as online. His passion is fitness and exercise, and helping others improve their fitness and wellness.

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  1. Karunaharamoorthy, A. (2021, October 28). Serratus anterior muscle. Kenhub.
  2. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Pectoralis muscle. Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/pectoralis-muscle

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