All About Dips: How to Train Them Safely and Effectively
Go ask ten people how to train dips, and whether or not you should do them at all, and you are very likely going to receive ten different answers. Gymnasts, bodybuilders, and CrossFitters all do dips on a regular basis, but each performs them with such wildly different technique that they might as well be separate exercises. On the other hand, some athletic trainers, physical therapists, and chiropractors might even recommend that you avoid dips at all costs! With such a plethora of conflicting views out there regarding dips, it is time to sit down and set the record straight.
Should You Do Dips?
Yes, you should do dips, but only if you are ready for them. Full range of motion bodyweight dips performed correctly require adequate shoulder mobility, especially in extension when your elbows are behind your torso. If, like many adults, you have not yet spent the requisite time regaining the range of motion in your shoulder joint, then dips can possibly cause pain. Note that we said regaining the range of motion, as everyone is born with mobile shoulders. It took years of sedentary living and perhaps improper training to stiffen your joints and thoracic spine.
Unfortunately, when many people hear that training dips might result in an injury, they simply stop there and never do them. The truth is, every activity of daily life has a potential to cause injury. Running, walking, driving to work, and even getting out of bed... they all contain an inherent risk, and this risk is multiplied if we attempt to do things for which our bodies are not prepared. The answer (it should seem obvious by now), however, is not to avoid doing them, but rather to actually spend the necessary time to prepare your body for those activities.
Bodyweight dips from the GB Online Courses will completely test your shoulder strength and mobility.
So, getting back to dips, the solution is to prepare the physical structure around the shoulders to be able to handle the load and range of motion involved in bodyweight dips. Step one is to address shoulder extension, making sure that the pec minor, biceps, and other commonly tight muscles allow for the arms to travel behind the body.
Another step to prepare the upper body for dips is the prone capsule stretch. To set this up, lie face down with your right arm beneath you, crossing directly across your chest and reaching palm up out to the side. Press your right shoulder firmly into the ground, extend your left arm overhead, and attempt to get your left shoulder closer to the floor. Hold this position for the desired amount of time, and if you have a training partner available, have them apply slight pressure to your left shoulder in the downwards direction.
Proper Technique and Progressions
All dip work begins with bench dips. Before you should even worry about performing dips with your feet off the ground, first work to achieve mastery of dips with your feet elevated on a bench. The additional benefit to bench dips is that they allow you to gradually increase both the load and range of motion on your shoulders, so if you have any issues, you can quickly and easily modify the movement by simply not descending as low at the bottom. Keep the elbows stacked over the wrists, lock your knees with your legs together, and strive to descend until your shoulders are below your elbows.
Once you have mastered bench dips, the world of dip progressions really opens up. Many people struggle with basic bodyweight dips, so it can be very helpful to prioritize negatives in your program. This type of eccentric training is very effective at preparing your strength and mobility for full range of motion dips down the road.
As you can imagine, there are endless possibilities when it comes to dip training. The GB Foundation Series contains precise, detailed steps for exactly how you should progress your bent-arm pressing strength. Keep in mind: dips, just like pushups, are another prerequisite exercise for building towards the movements like handstand pushups and even more advanced overhead pressing. Take care of your physical preparation now, so that the door will be open in the future for more advanced work.
GymnasticBodies dip progressions are essential for building strong, mobile chests and shoulders.