Dips are one of the best exercises for building a bigger chest, but only if you avoid the common mistakes people make when doing them. At best, if done properly, you can use the dip to more effectively target the chest as opposed to the shoulders and triceps. At worse, if done incorrectly, the dip can do a number on your shoulders and give even the healthiest of trainees an injury that can take you a long time to recover from.
In this video, I’m going to show you the right way to do dips. I’ll cover the four most important tips that you can follow when it comes to performing the exercise in your next chest workout. Once you learn how to do each of these properly, you will be able to easily go back to doing this incredibly effective exercise and build a more muscular chest.
First, before you even initiate the first downward movement of the dip you want to be sure that you slide your torso through your arms so that you are pushing your chest out more prominently. By putting the chest out in front of the shoulders, you are ensuring that it and not the delts are what is first recruited out of the hole at the bottom of the dip.
This can be ensured by leaning your torso more forward at the top of the chest exercise. That said, you want to be sure that once you do lean it forward that you keep it there. One of the worst things you can ever do during a dip is rock your body forward and back to upright with each dip you perform. This is going to wreak havoc on the anterior capsule of your shoulder not to mention place a tremendous shearing stress on the subacromial bursa and supraspinatus tendons. In other words, this is bad advice and needs to be avoided at all costs.
Instead, you want to create stability of the shoulder joint during the dip. This comes not just from the maintenance of the shoulder joint once set up as discussed but also by controlling the position of the shoulder blade as well. The scapula is part of the shoulder joint by virtue of it providing the socket for the ball of the shoulder itself. Allowing the shoulder blade to move in an unstable position is going to invite injury.
To prevent this, you want to make sure that you actively depress your shoulder blades by pushing your shoulders down and not letting your traps ride up or shrug up towards your ears. Set this up right at the beginning of the movement and then never let it go throughout the rest of your set. If you find that they gradually start to move up then you are likely fatiguing and it is best to cut the set short until you can regain your ability to do that.
Finally, on the way up, it is critical to not make the mistake of thinking of the dip as a vertical movement. Instead of thinking of pushing down through your hands you want to think about squeezing your elbows inwards towards your lats. This will recruit the pecs much more effectively than the former. Not just that, but at the top of the movement you want to squeeze your hands inward on the handles to create an adduction moment on the chest and really fire them up isometrically on every rep.
The combination of all of these tips together is going to help you to build a more muscular chest from your dips. If you have a shoulder injury already, that makes doing dips difficult, slowly work your way back into performing them by introducing these tips over time. Shorten the range of motion if you have to. Once retrained, you will be able to do these again pain free and get all of the gains you would have liked to get from them from the start.
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