What I Use for Dips

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I love dips, man.

It’s great to be able to say this now, because I used to be absolutely terrible at doing dips.  Matter of fact, when I was in the 10th grade, I couldn’t do any dips.  None at all.

More On Why I Think Dips are Great

I don’t just like dips now because of the fact that I can do them.  I also like them for the fact that they’re great for building muscle.

Dips are very similar to push-ups in regards to the mechanics.  It is a “push” move that primarily works the chest, triceps and front deltoids.  It also incorporates the lats (wings) pretty well, as well as other more minor muscle groups.

To note, when performing dips, the more you lean forward, the more you incorporate your chest.  The more you keep your body vertical, the more you incorporate your triceps.

Speaking of triceps, my personal opinion is that dips are absolutely king for triceps development.  At the time in my life about 7-8 years ago that I decided that I wanted to improve my performance in dips, within 2 or so months of building up my reps in dips, I noticed much change in the size and definition of my triceps.  I often found myself unconsciously flexing my triceps in the mirror to see the new cuts.

Needless to say, if you’ve been wanting to get the back of those arms back firm and tight, you better have dips as part of your routine.  Trust me.

What I’ve Used to do Dips at Home

As I’ve often said regarding the beauty of bodyweight exercises, if you don’t have time to go to the gym, it’s no problem because you can do pretty much any bodyweight exercise in the comfort of your own home.  With that said, let’s discuss some methods:

  • Chair Dips – An easier variation of dips can easily be done by using one or two chairs.  Using one chair with your feet outstretched in front of you, you lower your body only by your arms until your elbows are bent approximately 90 degrees, then you push your body back up by your arms.  When this gets too easy, you can make it a little harder by resting your feet on another chair across from you.
  • Standard Dips – With standard dips, you hold yourself up on two parallel bars and slowly lower yourself until your elbows are approximately 90-100 degrees bent, then you raise yourself back up.  These are significantly more difficult than chair dips, although chair dips are a great progression to standard dips.  The only question is, where and with what can you do these at home?  You can try using the backs of two chairs, but I don’t really recommend that.  Been there, done that.  However, the chairs tend to be unstable since you’re placing so much weight on one side of them, and they can likely flip on you if you’re not extra careful.  That wouldn’t be good.

My Portable Dip Bar

About three years back, I purchased a stand-alone, portable Dip Bar from a company called Ultimate Body Press.  I’ve found it to be not only useful, but very durable as well.

First of all, I can do standard dips with no problem.  This thing is very secure.  Wobbling is very minimal and usually only happens if I’m trying to complete reps very quickly.

Secondly, it’s easy to put away.  It has six total pieces that snap together with pins that can be depressed to allow for pulling the bar apart with ease.

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Once pulled apart, you can easily store it under a bed or in a closet without taking up a lot of space.  I personally like to separate it into two pieces instead of six to allow for putting it back together much quicker when I’m ready to use it.

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Each piece has a color coded, circular sticker to help you know which pieces snap together, and to keep you from having to do the guesswork every time.

Finally, as I stated before, it’s durable.  Aside from a few scratches my bar has acquired over the three years I’ve had it, it really is in excellent condition.

Oh, and to add, the bar has pads on top where you hold to provide more hand comfort.  As I said in the previous article in this series, certain bodyweight exercises are hard on the hands, and dips are certainly one of those exercises.

One More Bonus…

Oh, let me not forget…you can use it for a modified version of pull-ups, too!

Basically, you sit under the bar with your feet extended in front of you.  Using an overhand grip, you pull yourself up as high as possible while keeping your body as straight as a board.  This serves as a great progression to standard pull-ups and chin-ups.

The Takeaway

Dips are one of the best bodyweight exercises to include in your repertoire, especially if you desire to develop your arm strength and tone.  If you want to do them at home, chair dips can be easily done, and if you choose to invest in an Ultimate Body Press Dip Stand as I did, you can perform standard dips easily at home as well.

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