Dips are my favorite chest and tricep exercise – find out why they are better than bench for building mass

April 08, 2016

Gyms are filled with bros benching. My gym has 20+ benches and only two areas for doing dips. Luckily for me one is an assisted machine and one is a regular dip stand. These machines don’t see much activity so those two stations allow me to get in one of the best upper body exercises. Don’t get me wrong, I still have bench in my workout. I just know that dips are superior.

Dips are a great overall workout for your upper body. Dips are known as the “upper body squat”. They work the chest and at the same time all three heads of the tricep. Since triceps make the largest portion of your arm size, they are great for looking bigger quickly.

Like pull-ups, dips are a great indicator of overall fitness. You can have a huge gut and still put up a big bench. You can’t excel at dips if you aren’t lean and in great shape.

Here’s how you know how much I value dips. In my basement I have a bare bones gym setup. I keep it bare bones because my regular gym is close enough (4 blocks away from my house) so I only have equipment that I really value. Of the handful of items I have, the two pieces of equipment that get the most use are my dip stand and my pull-up bar.

Tips

Below are some tips to try out next time you are in the gym:

  1. Do them slowly – pause for a split second at the top and feel your tricep and chest squeeze. The biggest mistake I see at the gym is people use momentum to complete a lift.
  2. Go to failure – repeatedly (while keeping good form).
  3. Keep good form. Make sure you stay balanced. Your right side should be level with your left. If one of your arms is stronger than the other you need to be very careful and use the correct range of motion with both sides.
  4. The biggest issue beginners have is they don’t do enough volume. They read about rep ranges and look through hundreds of different programs. Doing 3 sets of 10 reps of chair dips isn’t going to do shit. You will get frustrated quickly from the lack of progress.
  5. Lose weight. Dips are a bodyweight exercise. Losing weight will make them easier.

Progression

Beginners should start with the first exercises and work your way up. If you can’t do a bodyweight dip, start with either a chair dip or machine assisted dip. Press hard and it will only be a short amount of time until you can move up to the next level.

LEVEL 1 – chair dip
LEVEL 2 – machine assisted dips
LEVEL 3 – bodyweight dips
LEVEL 4 – weighted dips

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