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How to do Dips: Forms, Variations and Proper Techniques

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Are you looking for a versatile and effective way to boost your upper body strength while targeting a range of muscles and enhancing your overall endurance? If so, have you considered the myriad benefits that dips have to offer? Dips involve straightening the upper arms and primarily engage the triceps, chest, and shoulder muscles. Ranging from classic parallel bar dips to the more intricate Korean and Planche dips, a wide variety of dip forms exist, each offering diverse benefits and challenges.

Whether you are a seasoned fitness enthusiast or just beginning your workout journey, understanding the various dip types can significantly enhance your upper body strength and overall development. But do you know how to perform them correctly to maximise their efficacy and minimise the risk of potential injuries? This comprehensive guide is here to provide you with all the answers you need, exploring each variation of dip, their techniques, primary muscle groups targeted, correct forms, and the advantages they bring.

What are Dips?

Dips are a bodyweight exercise that primarily targets the upper body, engaging muscles in the arms, chest, and shoulders. This exercise involves supporting the body on the hands or grips while lowering and raising the body by bending and straightening the arms. Dips, a compound exercise, use smaller muscles like the bench press and are typically performed using parallel bars, dip bars, bench, or other stable surfaces that allow you to lift and lower your body weight using your arms. They are versatile and can be adapted in various ways to challenge different groups of muscle and fitness levels.

Muscle Movement in Dips:

Dips require the coordination of several major muscle groups in the upper body. The triceps play a central role in controlling the elbow joint by extending and contracting during the dip. Additionally, the pectoral muscles contribute to shoulder adduction, which moves the arms towards the centre of the body. The shoulders themselves play a vital role in maintaining stability and support during the exercise to ensure controlled movement. Engaging the core muscles and forearms is essential for balance and stability, especially during challenging dip alternatives.

How to do Dips?

With a variety of dips, executing dips with proper form and technique is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, maintaining correct form ensures that the targeted muscles are effectively engaged, promoting efficient muscle development and strength gains. When carrying out dips, begin by grasping the parallel or callisthenics bars and jumping up, keeping arms straight, leaning forward, and ensuring a straight line from shoulders to knees. Additionally, lifting your toes, pulling your shoulders back, curving your elbows gradually, and stopping when your arms are nearly parallel to the ground is vital.

Correct and good form optimises the exercise’s effectiveness by appropriately distributing the workload among a group of muscles while preventing overuse and undue stress in susceptible areas. Ultimately, adhering to proper form not only maximises dip benefits but also ensures a safer and more productive workout.

Technique for Dip Execution

While the given infographic provides common techniques for executing dips, it’s essential to recognise that each dip variation possesses its unique set of techniques and nuances. Mastering the intricacies of specific dip variations, such as standard parallel bar dips, ring dips, or planche dips, requires a deeper understanding of the distinct form and execution of each.

Different Dip Variations

Parallel Bar Dips

Parallel bar dips stand as one of the quintessential exercises for building upper body strength and muscle development. This exercise, primarily targeting the upper chest, triceps, and shoulders, is performed using two parallettes, providing a challenging yet rewarding workout experience.

Parallel Bar Dips

Form and Execution:

  • Start by firmly gripping the parallettes, keeping your arms straight, and lifting yourself up. Ensure your body is positioned between the bars, aligning your shoulders directly over your hands.
  • Lower yourself by flexing your elbows, aiming for a 90-degree angle at the elbows or slightly lower, while maintaining a slightly forward torso for optimal engagement of the chest muscles.
  • Push yourself back up to the starting position by extending your arms. Avoid completely locking out your elbows to keep muscle tension and ensure your upper arms are parallel to the floor.

Assisted Dips 

The assisted dips machine stands as a beneficial variation of the classic exercise, particularly advantageous for beginners or individuals looking to build strength gradually. This modification utilises support mechanisms to ease the resistance, allowing individuals to perform the exercise more comfortably while working towards unassisted, full-body loaded dips.

assisted dips

Form and Execution:

  • Adjust the machine to provide enough assistance without completely relieving the load. Start with a level that challenges but allows controlled movements.
  • Follow the same form and technique as standard dips—grip the bars, position yourself, slowly lower your body, and then push back up. Focus on controlled movements and proper alignment.
  • As you get comfortable with the exercise, gradually decrease the assistance provided by the machine to increase the load on your muscles.

Ring Dips

Ring dips represent an advanced variation of the traditional dip exercise, requiring heightened stability, coordination, and muscle engagement. Utilising gymnastic rings for this exercise introduces an additional challenge, demanding greater control and strength throughout the movement.

Ring Dips

Form and Execution:

  • Start by suspending the gymnastic rings at an appropriate height. Hold the rings with a firm grip, ensuring they’re stable and approximately shoulder-width apart. Begin with arms extended and the body positioned between the rings.
  • Descend your body by flexing your arms while keeping a slight forward lean. Keep the rings close to your body and your chest inclined forward to effectively engage the chest and arm muscles.
  • Push yourself back up, extending your arms to return to the initial position. Focus on maintaining stability and control throughout the movement.

Weighted Dips

Weighted dips represent a more challenging take on the standard dip exercise, as they introduce extra resistance to elevate the intensity of the workout and stimulate greater strength and muscle development. This modification involves incorporating extra weight using a dip belt or weighted vest, intensifying the demands on the body during the dip motion.

Weighted dips

Form and Execution:

  • To perform weight-enhanced dips, you’ll need a dip belt or a weighted vest. Attach weight plates or dumbbells to the dip belt or wear the weighted vest as per your preference.
  • Approach the dip bars and secure the weighted dumbbell between your feet. Begin with your arms extended and a straight body position between the bars.
  • Bend your elbows to move down, aiming for a 90-degree angle or slightly lower, ensuring the dip goes lower than your elbows. Maintain a forward lean to effectively engage the pectoral muscles.
  • Elevate your body by extending your arms and returning to the initial position, ensuring to execute dips without completely locking out your elbows to sustain muscle tension.

Bench dips

Bench dips are a beneficial chest exercise that primarily targets the triceps brachii (back of the upper arm) while also engaging the muscles of the chest and shoulders. This exercise effectively works your triceps, promoting increased size and strength in these muscles over time.

Bench dips

Form and Execution:

  • Sit on the edge of a bench, placing your hands on a bench behind your hips and gripping the edge firmly. Keep your feet flat on the ground and slightly away from the bench.
  • Bend your elbows to drop your body until your upper limbs align parallel to the ground. Ensure to minimise strain on your shoulders and focus on achieving a comfortable triceps stretch.
  • Push yourself back up to the initial position by extending your arms, ensuring not to lock out your elbows completely while keeping your shoulders in a relaxed position.

Korean Dips

Korean Dips, also known as Slavic Dips, are an advanced bodyweight workout that targets the triceps, shoulders, and core muscles. Unlike traditional dips, Korean Dips are performed on parallette or a set of sturdy, elevated platforms. The exercise involves leaning forward and dipping the body down by bending the arms so the shoulders move below the level of the elbows.

Korean Dips

Form and Execution:

  • Begin by standing between two calisthenic bars, with the bars positioned behind your body. Your hands should grasp the bars, palms facing forward, fingers pointing towards your feet, and your arms fully extended.
  • Bend your elbows and maintain an upright torso while lowering your body. Descend until your upper limbs are parallel to the ground or slightly lower. This distinct hand positioning places notable emphasis on your chest and triceps.
  • Elevate yourself to the starting position by extending your elbows and returning to a fully upright posture.

Explosive or Plyometric Dips

Explosive or Plyometric Dips involve explosive movements that focus on power and speed. This variation targets the chest, triceps, and shoulders while incorporating plyometric elements, compelling the muscles to work harder with swift, forceful movements. The approach involves forcefully pushing off the dip stands or elevated surfaces, propelling the body into the air, and landing back onto the bars or surface. The explosive nature of these dips engages fast-twitch muscle fibre, promoting improved muscle power and coordination.

Plyometric Dips

Form and Execution:

  • Starting from the conventional dip position, lift yourself up by holding onto the bars or surface with straight arms.
  • Bend your elbows to descend your body, then push off with force from your arms and shoulders to propel your body upward.
  • Return to the bars or surface while keeping your balance to lessen the blow and get ready for the next explosive action.

Tricep Dips

Tricep dips are a highly effective bodyweight exercise that predominantly targets the triceps and the muscles on the back of the upper biceps. Mastering this exercise is not only beneficial for building stronger and more defined triceps but also for overall upper body strength and stability.

Triceps Dips

Form and Execution:

  • With your hands clutching the edge on either side, start by sitting on the edge of a stable surface, such as a bench, chair, or parallettes. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor, your fingers pointed forward, and your palms facing down. To prevent locking your elbows, maintain a small bend in them.
  • Bend your elbows and hold them close to your torso to descend your body. The objective is to bend at the elbow to a 90-degree angle or slightly less. Keeping your composure is crucial when descending.
  • Straighten your arms and keep your elbows close to your body to push yourself back up. When you get back to starting posture, release the breath.

L-sit dips

L-Sit Dips represent a challenging variation of the traditional dip exercise, integrating the core-strengthening L-Sit position with the upper body-focused dip movement. This advanced exercise demands significant core strength and stability while targeting the triceps, chest, and shoulders.

L-sit dips

Form and Execution:

  • Start by sitting with your legs stretched in front of you in the L-Sit posture. Then, use your hands on the dip or callisthenics to raise your body.
  • Folding your arms will help you lower your torso while keeping your legs up in front of you in the L-Sit posture.
  • Raise yourself back up, lifting your arms and maintaining an elevated L-Sit posture with your legs.

Also read: The Journey to Becoming a Calisthenics Athlete: Creating Personalised Training Plans 

Band-Assisted Dips

Band-assisted dips serve as a supportive variation of the dip exercise, providing assistance to individuals who are developing their strength or facing challenges in performing unassisted dips. These dips involve utilising resistance bands to alleviate some of the body weight resistance, allowing individuals to gradually build strength and technique.

Band-Assisted Dips

Form and Execution:

  • Put the resistance band to the dip equipment, then insert your feet or knees through the loop to provide support as you work out.
  • Grab the bars or handles and use the bands for support. Keep your arms fully extended, bend your knees, and cross your feet and prepare to lower yourself.
  • Curing your elbows while maintaining an erect posture and moving in a deliberate manner can help you bring your body down until your arms are about 90 degrees.
  • Using the bands to help offset some of your body weight, raise yourself back up to the beginning position by extending your arms.

Planche Dips

Planche dips are a demanding variation of the dip exercise. This challenging move requires a high level of upper body strength, core stability, and balance. Planche dips are not for beginners, and mastering them can take time and dedication.

how to do Planche Dips

Form and Execution:

  • Commence from a standard dip position, gripping parallettes with your body upright and your arms fully extended.
  • The distinctive aspect of planche dips is that, instead of folding your arms to descend, you need to tilt forward and ensure your arms are straight while keeping your feet off the ground. This demanding variation necessitates an exceptional level of strength and balance.
  • Ideally, you will progress into a full planche position, with your body parallel to the ground, and then return to the initial position.

Gironda (Chest) Dips

Vince Gironda, a renowned bodybuilder and trainer, introduced Gironda Dips, commonly referred to as Sternal or Chest Dips. This variation of dip is an excellent exercise that targets the pectoral muscles more intensely than traditional dips. The distinctive aspect of Gironda Dips is the emphasis on chest involvement. The wider elbow position and forward-leaning body placement effectively direct stress on the pectoral muscles, making these muscles work harder throughout the exercise.

Gironda (Chest) Dips

Form and Execution:

  • Leaning forwards, extend your arms and flare your elbows, and take a position between the dip stands.
  • Bend forward and descend your body, letting your elbows stretch out to the sides more than in a typical dip.
  • For correct execution, lock your elbows at the top of the movement and push your body back up while concentrating on engaging your pectoral muscles.

Straight Bar dips

Straight bar dips, also known as vertical bar dips or straight bar triceps dips, are a challenging bodyweight exercise targeting the triceps, chest, and shoulders. This exercise requires the use of two vertical bars, unlike the traditional horizontal or gymnastics bars used in standard dips.

Straight Bar dips

Form and Execution:

  • Stand between two vertical bars, gripping each bar firmly with palms facing inward and arms fully extended.
  • Begin to lower your body by bending your elbows, leaning slightly forward, and aiming for a 90-degree angle at the elbows or slightly lower. Keep your torso aligned.
  • Push yourself back up by extending your arms, focusing on the triceps and pectoral muscles to raise your body to the starting position.

Benefits of Dips

Dips offer several benefits for the body, making them a valuable exercise to include in your fitness routine. Here are some key benefits of dips:

  1. Upper Body Strength: By regularly carrying out dips, you can effectively strengthen and develop these muscles, leading to increased upper body strength and power as it primarily targets the muscles in the chest (pectoralis major), triceps, and shoulders (deltoid).
  2. Muscle Definition: Dips engage multiple groups of muscles simultaneously, which can contribute to improved muscle definition and aesthetics in the upper body. With consistent training, dips can help sculpt and tone the chest, triceps, and shoulders, giving your upper body a more defined and muscular appearance.
  3. Improved Pushing Strength: Dips are a compound pushing exercise that mimics movements such as pushing yourself off a surface or performing pushing motions in various sports. By strengthening the primary muscles involved in pushing, dips can enhance your overall pushing strength and performance in activities like weightlifting, callisthenics, and sports that require upper body strength.
  4. Core Stability: Dips engage the core muscles, including the abdominal and lower back, to stabilise the body during the exercise. This helps improve core strength, stability, and control, which is essential for overall functional strength and posture.
  5. Versatility and Accessibility: Dips can be performed using various equipment, such as gymnastics bars, dip stations, or even rings. Additionally, dips can be modified to suit different fitness levels and goals, making them accessible to a wide range of individuals, from beginners to advanced athletes.
  6. Functional Fitness: Dips are a functional exercise that mimics movements used in daily activities and sports. By strengthening the muscles involved in pushing and stabilising the upper body, dips can improve your overall functional fitness, making everyday tasks easier and enhancing performance in sports and physical activities.

Common mistakes to avoid while performing dips

While performing strength training exercises like dips, it’s important to be mindful of proper form and technique to maximise the benefits and minimise the risk of injury. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when doing dips:

  1. Flaring Elbows: One of the most common mistakes is flaring your elbows out to the sides during the dip. This places excessive stress on the shoulder joints and can lead to discomfort or injury. Instead, keep your elbows close to your sides throughout the movement to engage the chest or triceps effectively.
  2. Insufficient Range of Motion: Avoid shortening the range of motion by not lowering yourself fully between the bars. Failing to descend deep enough limits the engagement of the targeted muscles and reduces the overall effectiveness of the exercise. Aim to lower yourself until your shoulders are below your elbows or until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders.
  3. Lack of Core Engagement: Neglecting to engage your core during dips can lead to an unstable and potentially unsafe movement. Keep your core muscles activated and maintain a stable trunk throughout the exercise to enhance control and stability.
  4. Using Momentum: Swinging or using momentum to lift yourself during dips reduces the effectiveness of the exercise and increases the risk of injury. Focus on performing the movement in a controlled manner, using your muscles to initiate and control the upward and downward phases of the dip.
  5. Overreliance on Assistance: While assistance can be helpful for beginners, relying too heavily on resistance bands or machines that reduce the load can limit your progress. Gradually reduce assistance as you get stronger, and aim to complete dips with your body weight for optimal strength development.
  6. Neglecting Proper Warm-Up: Warm-up exercises are crucial to prepare your muscles, joints, and connective tissues for the demands of dips. Skipping a proper warm-up increases the risk of injury. Prioritise dynamic stretches, mobility exercises, and activation drills for the shoulders, chest, and triceps before performing dips.


Adding dips to your fitness routine can be an incredibly rewarding journey, as it offers a multitude of variations and techniques to challenge your upper body strength and build chest muscle. From classic bodyweight dips to advanced variations like planche dips and L-sit dips, the possibilities are as diverse as your fitness goals.

However, it is crucial to remember that the path to success in dips, or any exercise for that matter, begins with a solid foundation of proper techniques and form. Avoiding common mistakes and practising the right progressions under the guidance of professional trainers will not only approach your fitness goals more effectively but also safeguard you from potential injuries.

If you find yourself eager to elevate your performance in dips or simply seek expert advice to optimise your workout regimen, don’t hesitate to get in touch with PTSPOT. Your fitness journey lies ahead, and the support of a knowledgeable trainer can be your strongest asset in attaining your fitness ambitions. Delay no more; take that first step today!


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