I’m about 10 days into my November dip/pull up challenge and things are going great! My whole upper body is feeling rocked and strong!
Everyone knows how great the pull up is, but few ever mention the dip. Usually because it plays second fiddle to the bench press or the push up. However, after doing nothing but dips for 10 days, I’m starting to believe the dip just might be the world’s most perfect pushing exercise. Here’s why:
– Even muscle development
The dip is often thought of as a triceps exercise. Sometimes it’s given props as a chest workout. I for one find that it’s the most reliable way to nail my shoulders.
The push up / bench press tends to be a chest focused exercise. Hand stands and over head presses are a bit more focused on the shoulders. Finding something that works the triceps like the dip is hard, which may be why so many people tend to include some triceps focused work with their pressing routine.
When I dip, I feel it everywhere, chest, shoulders, back, triceps, without too much emphasis in any area. This leads me to believe I’m getting a great over-all workout for my time. One move and it’s all done without any area of my upper body getting too much or too little work.
-It’s a Killer chest workout
Even though the dip works everything, I find my chest gets a workout that’s top notch.
My first experience with dips came when I was 14 and I was a push up fanatic. I was visiting some friends at a park where we used to climb on massive boulders. According to the rules of bouldering, you can’t just roll yourself onto the top of the rock. You have to push yourself up onto the ledge (like a kid pushing themselves up onto a kitchen counter) and step up onto the top.
I didn’t make it to the top of too many boulders, so I ended up only pushing myself up about 5-10 times. Even though it was a low number of dipping movements, my chest was on fire the next few days. There is no doubt that the dip works the chest like nothing else.
Another case in point is the posing position most folks take when they try to flex and show off their chest muscles. You’ll notice their hands are always rather low with their arms pointing downward. If you were to take your hands and slowly raise them upwards, while still flexing the chest, you’ll notice the tension slowly transfer from the chest to the shoulders. This leads me to believe that pressing the hands downward is the ultimate way to work the chest.
On a side note, some regard the dip as a move for the “lower” pecs. Believe me, the dip torches the entire pectoral muscle group. Just check out some Youtube clips of a few shirtless dudes doing dips. You’ll notice their entire chest lights up like a Xmass tree.
– Wonderful scapular control
When I first started doing dips, I developed a nagging pain in my upper back. This pain was due to crushing my shoulders together as I lowered myself down. I had yet to learn how to control the position of my shoulders.
Both the dip and the push up are fantastic because they don’t place your shoulders against a support pad or bench. This requires you to use your own muscles and control the position of your shoulder girdle. It’s a skill that is often over looked but can help you maintain strong and healthy shoulders long after your bench pressing friends start complaining about how sore their shoulders are.
– Loads of Variety
You can do dips so many different ways.
You can do them on classic dip bars or you can do them on a strait bar like this at a playground.
For the ultimate challenge you can do them on rings or suspension straps. These tools allow you to vary the width and hand position during each rep. I’m a big fan of doing them off of suspension straps or rings that have the archer points set at about 2-3 shoulder widths apart. This way, the handles fight you a bit as you pull them towards your center line during the concentric portion of each rep.
– They are safe and Easy to load
Finally, the dip is a very easy calisthenic to load with extra weight. You can use weight vests, chains (my favorite) or the old fashioned dip belt. Loading up push ups can be a little cumbersome, but simply wrapping a weight around your hips and letting it hang feels very natural without stressing the joints. Plus you can release the tension in a safe and easy way. You simply stand back onto your feet. You don’t even need a spotter!
Above all, the dip is like the pull up for it’s coolness factor. There are very few people who practice them and even fewer folks who seek to master them. So giving them just a few minutes each week gives you strength and ability that places you among an elite class of exerciser.