The Exercise: Along with pull-ups and push-ups, dips are one of the most important and useful calisthenics exercises. Dips are done by using your arms to lower your body down and back up in a hanging position. Dips primarily work your arms, but also chest. Like push-ups and pull-ups, dips can really test your fitness level, and can be done in a multitude of variations.

Standard dip variation on parallel bars.

Standard dip variation on parallel bars.

Proper Form: The typical version of dips uses parallel bars just wider than shoulder-width. Grab onto the bars and bring your legs up off the floor so that you are hanging – you can either tuck your legs behind or just let them hang. Then, gradually lower your body until your elbows are fully bent. You should be leaning forward slightly as you do this. However, you can play around with how much you lean and how wide your grip is, depending on what muscles you want to target. The smaller your grip width and the less you lean, the more emphasis on your arms rather than chest.

Common Mistakes:

  • Not going down all the way – make sure that you do get the full range of motion
  • Going down TOO far – don’t go down so much that you hurt your arms
  • Swinging your legs – don’t use your legs to help yourself, this exercise is all about using your arms to lift your whole body

Muscles worked: Triceps in your arms, chest, shoulders.

Video Demonstration:

Dip Variations

Bench Dips: Bench dips are a great introduction to dips. For this simply find a bench, or a bar, or anything that is raised enough above the ground. Place your hands past shoulder width apart, with your body near the bench. You can keep your legs bent for an easier workout, orĀ  straighten your legs out for a more difficult variation. Lower your body until your elbows are bent at about 90 degrees, and push back up. Here’s a video to demonstrate.

Simple bench dips - find a bench, support yourself by your arms behind your back, and lower yourself down until your elbows are at 90 degrees.