How to Master the Dip Exercise in Calisthenics

how to master the dip

The dip exercise is great for building bigger triceps and a bigger chest. It has many variations that can increase difficulty levels as you progress. This blog is about the regular dip exercise and is meant for beginners. If you are familiar with the exercise but not sure about the perfect form then this article will help you too.

What is a Dip Exercise? 

A dip can be described as a bodyweight exercise where you push yourself up from a bar after flexing your arms. There are many variations of the dip. For example, a parallel bar dip, bench dip or straight bar dip. Here, we discuss the parallel bar dip since this one is a classic in every calisthenic parc. These bars are usually at shoulder width and about 1 meter high.  To complete a repetition you start with yourself pushed up on the bars. Both of your elbows are fully extended and you bend them 90 degrees. Then, stretch your arms fully again and the dip is done.

Other dip variations require the same movement, only the placement of the hands and body are different. 

Dip Exercise World Records 

Yauheni Los currently holds the world record for most parallel bar dips in 1 minute. He performed 53 reps with a 60 lb pack. Osama Fawzy did 40 reps in 1 minute with a 100lb pack. If you think you can do better, you can always apply at the Guinness world record company. 

The Correct Technique for the Dip Exercise

Body Position 

First of all, your body needs to be aligned (preferably straight) when you perform the exercise. Unfortunately, this is not always possible for tall people since they may touch the ground when their arms are 90 degrees flexed. If you are in the lowest position and are not touching the ground you can keep your legs straight. This will cost less energy when doing reps and keep you perfectly aligned. Now make sure you tighten your abdomen, glutes and quads and bend your toes downward. 

Body Position in Case You are Tall

Tall people who are not able to do this can lift up their legs a bit and stretch them forward. Now contract the same muscles as mentioned above and keep your toes up to not hit the ground. That way, you are good to go. Still touching the ground? Bend your hips and knees 90 degrees forward. This isn’t the best position, but if you keep your body tight you will not falter too much. 

The Actual Dip

Second, the placement of your upper body and the dip itself are equally important for a correct dip exercise. At the starting position your elbows are fully stretched, shoulders are retracted and you look straight ahead. You do this to keep your spine straight and not have a rounded back. 

The Dip Exercise itself

Push yourself down against gravity in about 4 seconds. Don’t go further than 90 degrees. This is important. Especially if you are a beginner in calisthenics. After all, you don’t want to start off with an injury. Why is this angle so important? Because at more than 90 degrees, your triceps have a much bigger lever to overcome. You are basically be lifting your entire bodyweight. Keep your elbows pointed backwards aligned with the bar. That way, you use more of your triceps. When it gets difficult, you tend to point them outwards and involve the chest more. But your chest is not the main target in the dip exercise, except in straight bar dips. Another tip is to place the hands a little bit in front of your body if the exercise is too difficult and behind your body if it is too easy.

dip exercise

Tips to Master the Dip

If you don’t have the strength to perform one ora couple of sets and reps these tips will help you. 

  • Do negative dips. A negative dip means you jump up into starting position with your arms stretched. Now go down as slowly as possible until you hit 90 degrees flexion in your elbows and let go. Jump up again and perform another rep. Do these 3 sets at the maximum number of reps. This stimulates muscle growth the most.
  • Use resistance bands to carry some of your bodyweight. Put the band in your hands and make sure it’s on tension between the bars. Now you’ll feel much lighter, especially when going up. Don’t have a resistance band? Ask a buddy to hold your feet for you. He or she can do squats while helping you. It is a win-win situation.
  • Bench dips are easier since your feet stay on the ground. You don’t have to carry your entire bodyweight this way. If you can perform 3 times 15 bench dips but parallel bar dips are still too hard try negative dips first. 

How Many Dips? 

A lot of you are probably wondering how many dips you should be able to do to be considered fit. Men are intermediate when they are able to perform around 18 dips and 45 to be elite. For women this is around 10 reps for intermediate and 30 reps for elite. 

More about Dipping

Click here for a full dip bar workout schedule for both beginner and advanced athletes. And make yourself aware of the 5 most common dip exercise mistakes with this article. The dip exercise really is an excellent exercise to get bigger triceps and a bigger chest. And it is also easy to do at home. You can use a bed, chair or maybe even stairs to do an bench dip. Or just get one of our tested parellettes to take your home workouts to the next level. Dips are not the only way to build better triceps. If you want to try out more exercises for triceps, check out the 5 best triceps exercises for beginners in calisthenics.

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Literature used in this blog article

1: Writer unknown. Most parallel bar dips in one minute with 100 lb. 2020. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/104417-most-parallel-bar-dips-in-one-minute-with-a-100-lb-pack#:~:text=Osama%20Fawzy%20from%20Egypt%20achieved,UAE%2C%20on%207%20September%202020. Consulted on 25-1-20 

2: Writer unknown. Most parallel bar dips in one minute with 60 lb. 2020. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/113463-most-parallel-bar-dips-in-one-minute-with-a-60-lb-pack. Consulted on 25-1-20 

3: Writer unknown. Standard dips. 2020.  https://strengthlevel.com/strength-standards/pull-ups/kg consulted on 16-11-2020 

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