HOW TO MASTER THE DIP.
If you’re hell-bent on developing shirt-filling arms, it doesn’t pay to focus on bicep curls. Your triceps are a much larger muscle group with more potential for growth. So what’s the best way to triple those tris? The dip.
One of the best bodyweight moves around, dips are essentially the opposite of a pullup, shifting your whole body off the ground with a pushing motion and lowering yourself down again. But if you’re dipping into bodyweight training for the first time, you’ll need the help of PT Scott Laidler to ensure you’re pressing properly.
Step 1: Push-up the groundwork
Dips hit your chest, triceps, core and delts, but hefting your whole body isn’t easy. Luckily, a good way of working the exact same muscle groups is with classic press-up variations. Try a superset of 10 of each of these press-ups that shift the emphasis onto your triceps, leaving your push-power primed for the bars.
The military press-up – your hands should be placed shoulder-width apart and your elbows tucked in close to your body.
The regular press-up – your hands should be shoulder width apart, elbows angled outwards.
The diamond press-up – position your arms close together under your chest to form a diamond shape with your hands.
Step 2: Be more negative
“In my experience, the best way to get good at dips is with negative dips,” Laidler tells us. If you can’t hold your own bodyweight for more than a few reps, get in between the bars, jump up and lower yourself down slowly, under control for as long as possible. And we do mean long – ten seconds plus, if you can.
Sets of negative dips will train the right muscles and make sure you’re holding yourself up with your core. As you get stronger, your negatives will last much longer.
Building strength: Do’s and don’ts
It may seem logical to make a beeline for the assisted dips machine, but give that instinct the boot – although you’re replicating the dip movement, you’re not holding yourself up as you would during a normal dip. Instead, you’re kneeling on a pad. “It stops you bringing your core into play,” says Laidler.
When you lean forward into a dip, it forces you to activate your whole upper-body, making it a great compound exercise. The assisted machine loses all that. “It’s treating the exercise as an isolation movement instead of a whole-body lift.”
Don’t head towards a bench either. Yes, they’ll train your triceps, but bench dips leave your shoulders at an unnatural angle, because your body is in front of your hands instead of between them. It’s no good for parallel bar training.
Step 3: Dip, dive and dodge
So your negatives are nice and controlled, and you can do press-ups for days. You’re ready for the real thing.
– Grab the bars of a dip station with your palms facing inward and your arms straight.
– Slowly lower until your elbows are at right angles, ensuring they stay tucked against your body and don’t flare out.
– Drive yourself back up to the top and repeat.
Step 4: Remember tweaks for perfect form
Don’t arch your back
Why: While your torso is being held aloft, your rounded back ends up causing your lower body to dangle, like a limp hand on the end of a wrist. “It’s bad for your chest,” says Laidler, as it’s not designed to concave inward.
Form Fix: As you grip the parallel bars, stick your chest out like you’re proud of it and keep your body straight. “Make sure your spine is neutral and lean slightly forward.” Your core should engage and away you go.
Don’t shrug your shoulders
Why: Even suspended in midair, a Quasimodo hunch means your joints take the weight of your whole body; that’s your muscle’s job. Don’t give those bastards an inch.
Form Fix: As you stick your chest out, force your shoulders down. Remain neutral and straight-backed as you lower your body until your upper arm is at 90 degrees with your forearm.