Body Weight Dip Exercises: 5 Mistakes You Should Avoid

body weigth dip

Special Guest Blog by Michele Delle Noci, from our friends at Bartans.

As a calisthenics athelete, you must know about body weight dip technique. The dip is a fundamental exercise for bodyweight training. It is a basic requirement for more complex moves and a good conditioning exercise. But with a bad technique it will be a stressful move, so it’s very important avoid mistakes. Let’s discuss 5 common mistakes that often happen in this exercise and how to avoid them.

Body Weigth Dip Mistake 1 – Elevated Scapulas 

This is probably the most common mistake. People usually do this because they have a lack of strength and proprioception in the stabilizer muscles. When you go down from the top position, your scapulas need to be depressed (far from the ears) during all the movements. If you don’t do this, your shoulders will not be stabilized well and over time the risk of injury will increase. Even if you are lucky enough to not get hurt, you won’t be able to generate a good recruitment of your pecs.

One advice for this issue is to think about pushing the parallel bars down when you are at the top position with arms outstretched. 

Body Weigth Dip Mistake 2 – Anterios Tilt of the Scapula

This mistake is usually related to mistake number 1, but not always. But this mistake can be done regardless of the first one. Anterior tilt of the scapula means that the scapula rotates forward, from the lateral plane. So, the shoulder blades don’t adhere well to the rib cage.

That position causes a lot of stress on the shoulder joint and tendons. Common injuries in this case are shoulder impingement (involving tendonitis of the rotator cuff muscles as they pass through the subacromial space) in particular tendonitis of the supraspinatus muscle, tendonitis of the long head of the biceps tendon. These problems are often caused by a lot of wrong repetitions over time. 

But don’t worry about it too much. If you avoid this mistake your shoulders will be safe. How can you avoid it? Think about retracting your shoulder blades a bit (bring them closer) during dips. It also helps to look straight ahead instead of looking down. 

Body Weigth Dip Mistake 3 – Bouncing Dips 

You have to control the eccentric phase. Dip exercise is about shoulder extension and elbow flexion, so if you go down too quickly, the exercise can be dangerous. A bounce can help you to do more reps, but on the other hand your joints will not appreciate it. Please don’t focus on the total number of reps. Instead, focus on the number of clean reps.

Furthermore, a controlled eccentric phase increases time under tension for each repetition and in the long run this is good for your strength and hypertrophy gains. 

This third mistake can also cause mistake 1 or 2 because with bouncing reps it’s hard control scapular activation. 

Body Weigth Dip Mistake 4 – The Center of the Hand 

For a good dip execution, it’s fundamental to apply force only against the parallel bars. To do this, the center of mass must always be in line with the hands, because it’s the point where the force is impressed. The weight has to be felt on the center of the hand. 

Sometimes beginners are not good at this point. It’s not a big problem though. You can easily improve your bodyweight dips with the tip described below.

A simple but smart tip: Start the exercise with the usual set-up, but before starting the negative, open your hands a little. Maintain open hands during all the movement: this simple variation forces you to maintain a good weight distribution and body alignment. 

Body Weigth Dip Mistake 5 – Avoid Momentum 

It’s a common mistake due to lack of strength and control. When you go down during the eccentric phase, your legs go backward too much and your torso forward too much. Later, from the bottom position, you repeat the same movement using momentum. 

Even though there it may be logical to move like this, it can be a mistake. Because when the inclination is excessive it is wrong. You are compensating the lack of strength with a swing.

This is usually related to bouncing reps (mistake 3) because it “helps” to do more reps. 


These mistakes above are the main mistakes for dip exercises. As you can see, they are often combined. My advice is to focus on your journey, without looking at others. Do not try exercises and volumes that are over your current possibilities. Improvement takes time, so trust the process and don’t use shortcuts. You can do it!

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More for Body Weight Dip Exercises

Are you ready for dips after reading this article? Click here to find the best equipment for your home and outdoor workout, including dip bars and parallettes. And be sure to tune into our Blog regularly for more calisthenics exercises.

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