Don’t Forget to Include this Classic Move
There are few exercises I would refer to as “classics,” but the basic “Dip” is certainly one of them. This movement has been around “forever,” and not only is this because it does not necessarily take any specialized equipment to perform it, but also because it is one of the most effective exercises one can do for building upper body mass and strength! With that said, here are 5 important reasons why any serious lifter should include dips as part of their upper-body program.
- Bench Press Boost ~ Back in my younger days one of my biggest goals was to be able to bench press five “plates” on each side of an Olympic bar, or 495 lb. I had eventually progressed to 455 but stalled at this weight and could seem to go no further. Then I added weighted dips into my routine on a regular basis and as I increased the poundage I could do in this movement, I also began to improve my bench press. At the point I could do a set of dips strictly with three plates hanging at my waist I successfully hit 495 for a single in the bench press! Yes, dips can help you “boost your bench!”
- Pecs ‘n Tris Pumper ~ Dips are definitely a overall “mass movement” for the pushing muscles of the upper body, but depending on how you use them, they can better target either the chest or triceps. By leaning the torso forward (at about a 45 degree angle) and letting the elbows flair out to the sides, the chest will be forced to perform the brunt of the work. However, if you remain upright and keep the elbows tucked into your body, the triceps will get the more significant “butt kicking!”
- Go High or Go Low ~ Certain movements work extremely well as low rep power-type exercises while others lend themselves best as high-rep pumpers. However, I have found that dips can be used effectively in both ways! Some days you may wish to start your chest or triceps routine with the weighted version of this movement and stick to the lower rep range – around 4-7. On other occasions finishing your workout with bodyweight only dips is the perfect way to flush your tired muscles with blood and leave the gym with that final t-shirt-bursting pump!
- Muscle Fiber Frying ~ Many research studies have shown that exercises that require you to “move your body through space,” show increased and stronger muscle fiber firing than those where your torso remains in place/stable. This is why squats are in many cases superior to leg presses, and pull-ups superior to pull-downs, as examples. Dips fill this “prescription” as well!
- No Gym, No Problem ~ Some of you reading this may not be able to get to a gym for numerous reasons, and/or may have a job that requires a lot of traveling, leaving you to do bodyweight-only training in a hotel room. And in these cases dips are simply awesome as all they require are two sturdy objects (and make sure of this before commencing) of the same height that are close enough to properly perform the movement. If you normally do dips with weight, you can instead slow the movement down so that you are lowering your body over 4-6 seconds and raising over 2-3, which will make it “feel” like you are using far heavier resistance.
Now…get to dipping!