How to Do Dips with Proper Form


To do Dips with proper form, raise yourself on 2 supports with straight arms. Lower your body until your shoulders are lower than your elbows. Push yourself back up by straightening your arms until your elbows are locked.

Dips are one of the best exercise to build bigger arms. Straightening your arms during Dips works your triceps. Dips are also superior to Push-ups because your body moves through space. On Push-ups your feet are planted. That makes Dips harder and superior to Push-ups because you have to balance your body.

On StrongLifts 5×5, you can do Dips as an optional assistance exercise at the end of each workout A.

Dip Technique

You might not be able to lean forward & go as deep as James on the picture above. If your shoulders or sternum hurts, stay more upright with your chest up. But always apply the following rules on Dips.

  • Squeeze The Bar. Put your thumbs around the bar & squeeze it hard. The more force you apply to the bar, the stronger you are.
  • Look Forward. Don’t look straight forward, don’t look the floor. Look to a point slightly in front of you.
  • Breathing. Take a big breathe while hanging with locked elbows & hold it. Lower yourself & come back up. Breathe at the top, not during reps.
  • Chest Up. Don’t let your shoulders roll forward. Keep your chest up & shoulders back. It’s easier on your shoulders.
  • Bend Your Legs. And cross your feet. Letting your legs hang means less strength in my experience. Squeeze your glutes on the way up.
  • Break Parallel. Your shoulders must go lower than your elbows. Deeper stretches your chest more, but your shoulders might not agree with it.
  • Lock Elbows. Drive out of the bottom until your elbows are locked. Squeeze your triceps. No partial Dips.

Common Problems

Break parallel on each rep just like with Squats. Use a complete range of motion from start to finish.

  • Not Hitting Parallel. Don’t cheat by doing partial Dips. Your shoulders must go lower than your elbows on each rep.
  • Not Locking the Elbows. Lock your elbows at the top. Squeeze your triceps & keep your chest up.
  • Shoulder Issues. Don’t go too low. Stop when you break parallel, keep your chest up & torso upright. Try shoulder dislocations.
  • Torso Pain. Don’t let your shoulders roll forward & don’t let your torso shift forward too much. Keep your chest up.

Equipment for Dips

The best equipment for Dips are two parallel bar dips inside the Power Rack as I have.

  • Gymnastics Rings. Dips using rings are harder than parallel bar Dips: you need to stabilize yourself more. This is only recommended for experienced lifters.
  • Chairs. Put 2 chairs back to back and dip in between. Make sure the chairs are stable enough so you don’t fall.
  • Bench. Feet elevated, hands on a bench, dip. Not recommended. The torso position is unhealthy for your shoulders, especially when you do these weighted.

Weighted Dips

Switch to Weighted Dips once you can do 10 reps with proper form. This keeps the exercise challenging. The simplest way to add weight is by using a dipping belt.

Dumbbells between legs doesn’t work well on Dips, especially not with heavier weight. It messes with your balance, and you won’t have an easy time holding heavy weights between your legs. Rucksack also not recommended – it can break, and the weight can pull you back. Get the dipping belt.

What If You Can’t Do 1 Rep?

Stay away from Dip Machines. The strength you build on machines doesn’t transfer. Dips are harder: you have to balance yourself. If you can’t do 1 rep, try one of these:

  • Ask for Help. Ask someone to help you on the way up by grabbing your side with his hands and squatting up & down.
  • Partials. Get on the 2 supports with locked elbows. Unlock your elbows, lower yourself slightly & push back up. Gradually increase the range of motion as you get stronger until you can break parallel.

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