Why Should You Train Body Weight Dips

Pull-ups are a highly effective exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the back, arms, shoulders, and core. Regular training corrects poor posture by strengthening the muscles responsible for maintaining proper spinal alignment. Pull-ups enhance functional fitness, as they mimic real-life movements like climbing and pulling.

To learn how to do your first pull up follow these progressions. In no time you will unlock your first pull-up and be well on your way to achieving your goals.

What Muscles Do Dips Train

Depending on the grip you use the target muscles worked during a dip can change but overall body weight dips train the following muscles:

  • Chest (Pectoralis Major)
  • Triceps
  • Anterior Deltoids (Shoulders)

However, to a lesser extent, body weight dips also hit the muscles in these areas:

  • Core
  • Upper Back
  • Lower Back

Level 1: Chair Dips

Chair dips are a great start to learning the body weight dip as they teach you the motion while greatly reducing the load on your shoulders, chest and triceps. Start by placing your hands on the sides of the chair and scooting your butt off the chair with your feet directly below you making a sharp angle where your knee bends. Lower yourself down slowly making sure to keep your elbows inward. Go as low as you can and once you’ve reached the lowest point of the dip push with your arms to get back to the starting position while keeping your elbows close the entire time. You can use your feet to help push off the ground to make this easier. IF this gets too easy for you try placing your feet further away from your chair.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 20 repetitions

Level 2: Assisted Bench Dips

Just like chair dips place your hands at your side and slide your butt off the bench. Instead, this time lower yourself slightly while maintaining a good grip on the bench and step your legs forward so they are straight in front of you. Here you can perform the same motion as the chair dip. The closer your bench is to the ground the easier this workout will be. We recommend starting with a bench that is just above your knees and adjusting based on your own fitness level.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Level 3: Jumping Dips

Next, let’s move to parallel bars or gymnastics rings to learn the jumping dips. With the bar/rings placed at the bottom of your chest jump straight upward and push yourself until you can straighten your arms but leave a slight bend. Don’t worry about holding the top position if you are unable to. Once you reach the top it is okay to let gravity take you back down.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 12 repetitions

Level 4: Straight Arm Dip Holds

Once you can comfortably jump up into the dip position the next step will be to hold the top. Perform a jumping dip and at the top extend your arms downward towards the floor below you. Hold this position for as long as you can to build up your shoulder strength.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 15 seconds

Level 5: Negative Dips

The next step to unlocking the bodyweight dip is to perform negative dips. Start in the straight arm dip hold position and slowly lower yourself as low as you can go and hold it. This will train your muscles to learn their position during every part of the bodyweight dip.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 12 repetitions

Level 6: Band Assisted Dips

If you have access to resistance bands place them between your rings or parallel bars. It is easier to use calisthenics equipment that is lower to the ground when doing band assisted dips. Once you’ve set up your resistance bands take your grip and place your knees over the resistance band. Here you can perform the full motion of a body weight dip with a lighter load due to the help of resistance bands. As you progress reduce the strength of the resistance bands until you are able to perform the dip without them.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 12 seconds

Level 7: Parallel Bar Dips

Congratulations on unlocking the bodyweight dip. By now you will have developed a strong chest and triceps capable of supporting your entire body weight at all parts of the dip. Just remember to maintain proper form by keeping your elbows close to you at all times.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 8 repetitions

Level 8: Ring Dips

If you’ve only trained dips on stable parallel bars the jump to gymnastics rings may surprise you. Often people find that the instability of rings makes the exercise much more difficult but by utilizing the same techniques as on parallel bars your stabilizer muscles will adapt allowing you to perform body weight dips on a set of gymnastics rings.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 8 repetitions

Level 9: Straight Bar Dips

The hardest variation of the dip is the straight bar dip. Instead of your arms being placed by your sides they are placed parallel to your own body in front of you placing a much more intensive strain on your chest. The straight bar dip is an essential part of learning the muscle up and a great method of targeting the muscles in your chest.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 8 repetitions

Dips are a great chest-building exercise that translates well to many other calisthenics skills. The most notable being the muscle up. If you want to challenge yourself even further and put the straight bar dip to use try learning the muscle up.