Back To Basics: Dips

For a  big chest , triceps,  and  overall pressing strength dips are an excellent addition to your arsenal. There are dozens of variations you can try but mastering the basics as written below will benefit you greatly.

Dips-  Keep your legs bent and knees slightly in front of your body,  abs tight,  chest up, shoulders back and head looking forward.  Employ a controlled negative and always achieve a maximum stretch by touching your bicep to forearm. Stop just short of lockout at the top to keep tension through your muscles and not joints and always stay in a controlled manner.

  Dips(especially once weighted )  have acquired a bad reputation in some circles , but if performed in control  at all times are perfectly safe . Dips hit your Anterior Deltoid, Chest, and Triceps very efficiently and have been employed to build astounding upper bodies since the 1950s.  You may also use the principle of intention to emphasize your chest over your triceps by squeezing inward on the handles. You may do these on a machine, parallel bars or v bars.  Most top coaches and bodybuilders  consider the V bar variation the most effective because you can adjust your hand spacing for where you optimally feel your chest contracting.

Programming can go numerous ways.

I  f you can only do a few bodyweight dips  one of the best ways to increase strength is Russian Ladders   which go like this comrade

1 rep
Rest as long as it takes to do 1 rep
2 reps..

2 reps
Rest as long as it takes to do 2 reps …

3 reps
Rest as long as it takes to do 3 reps …

And so on. If you can just get up to 4 reps that means you  already did 10 repetitions total.  Once you approach failure  stop completely , rest 2 minutes and start back at 1. At this stage you should be mastering form,  enjoying the movement and  loving the quick gains.

5 sets of this would mean 50 total reps even of you only got up to 4 consecutively.   P.S This approach also works wonders for pull ups. It was introduced to me by Pavel Tsatsouline a former  Russian Spetsnaz   instructor and is sure to deliver results as long as you put  in the work.

Intermediate -Bodybuilding
dave draper dips

Once you can do 15 consecutive dips and your goal is muscle growth it’s time to start a simple 5 sets of 10 approach.  Once you can do all 5 sets slap 5 pounds of added resistance  on the next workout and so on. Eventually you will plateau , switch it up to 5 sets of 6 -10,6 sets of 6 , whatever you enjoy. Remember NEVER sacrifice form for added weight, its a slippy slope that only leads to unnecessary injury  and less muscular gains.

Intermediate -Strength

  If your goal with the dips is to get more pressing power for  overhead and bench pressing you are in the right place.  Champion strength coaches like Bill Starr  and  Charles Poliquin agree it is one of the best  assistance exercises.  A routine for strength will naturally have lower repetitions . A cycle Bill Starr recommends is…

Week 1 : Warmup , 5 sets of 8, back off set
Week 2: Warmup , 5 sets of 5 , back off set
Week 3:  Warmup , 2 sets of 5, 3 sets of 3, back off set.

Start back at  week 1.

  Although there are dozens of variations to dips and programming for them; the 3 methods above have worked for countless champions and most importantly will work for YOU. Marvin Eder pictured above could do dips  with 2 200 pound men hanging from his legs and is largely  considered the strongest dipper of all time, but you’re just getting started   so maybe that will change.

Hypertrophy Alternate Method 

If you are advanced at dipping and want too strive for even more results a great routine for dipping is none other than Vince Gironda’s 8×8 or 6×6  method.  The premise is simple, instead of increasing weight  you progressively  overload the muscles  by decreasing rest periods as you complete all 6 or 8 repetitions.

An example would be doing 6 sets of 6 repetitions bodyweight dips with 1 minute rest. between sets  When you  can perform  all the reps instead of adding weight via a belt or dumbbell you decrease the rest to 55, 45, 35 seconds and so on.  Decrease the rest   5 to 10 seconds every time you   get all 6 reps and eventually you can do 6 sets of 6 with just 15 to 30 seconds rest.

Once you hit that point move up to 8 sets of 8 and start back at one minute.

Your friend in training and in health ,

Brad Kelly

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