T Nation

Dips Causing Chest Pains

hi just wondering if anyone lese seems to experience this. i’ll finish a set of dips fine and fel ok but when i do weighted dips (roughly arround the 50-60lb mark) i’ll finish the set and find i have a dull aching pain at the top of my pecs and allong the clavicals. will this go with timeor is it something that is likely to get worse with training?

cheers in advance

A lot of lifters (especially when they are younger and not fully developed) experience this in their sternum…
If it’s only with the weighted dips, you could try building up the reps with un-weighted dips, and progress that way.
My suggestion… dont do dips. It’s a great exercise for a lot of people, but probably not for you (at least at this point).

cheers, i only really do weighted dips because i can easily get 20+reps with no weight attached. is there any exercise that you can recommend to replace them? are close grip benches more or less effective in your opinion?

I’d say go with the close grip press. I think it is superior for triceps work, and there are better ways to get chest work.

I’m currently scaled back on all of my pressing because of a shoulder injury from the last time I did dips (around 6 months ago).

I agree with MurrDawg. If you’re a beginner and these are already bugging your shoulders, avoid them.

Whats your purpose for using dips? Tricep development? Chest development? Overall mass?

i’m on jim wendler’s 5/3/1 program at the moment and its one of the assistance exercises which it called for weighted dips for 5x10. i was doing them for upper chest development and to also help my triceps for heavy benching

Man up. You’ll get used to it as the connective tissue gets stronger. Pain inside the shoulder joint is a different story though.

Dips wont do much for the clavicular head (upper portion) of your pecs. Lean forward and they’ll hit the sternal head primarily. Front delts and triceps to a lesser degree.

If you want to do dips for tricep development (not the best choice) than do them completely upright with your elbows tucked or (preferably) use the Hammer Strength dip ‘machine’.

I would personally just switch to the “BBB” program outlined in his book. Great template for putting on mass, and you dont need to worry about it then.
If you dont want to do that, I think close grip bench would be the next best thing for you.

A quote from Dan John on the subject of dips and sternum pain:

"I think I wrote an article about them. Here is the thing: with teen boys, many will complain that dips hurt the sternum. They will point to it, draw a line down the chest and tell me that dips “rip” this up. It happened to me, too. I figure it is a growth issue.

So, with teens, we don’t do them. It’s like a drill: no matter how good a drill is, if the bulk of the kids can’t do it within a few tries…move along. Dips are like that with me. If you don’t feel the stabbing, do them. If you do, don’t.

I have no opinion on dips being better or worse, richer or poorer, than anything else. I still like the Military Press for the answer to most questions…"

If Dan John says not to do them if its hurting, thats a good enough answer for me.

[quote]MurrDawg wrote:
I would personally just switch to the “BBB” program outlined in his book. Great template for putting on mass, and you dont need to worry about it then.
If you dont want to do that, I think close grip bench would be the next best thing for you.

A quote from Dan John on the subject of dips and sternum pain:

"I think I wrote an article about them. Here is the thing: with teen boys, many will complain that dips hurt the sternum. They will point to it, draw a line down the chest and tell me that dips “rip” this up. It happened to me, too. I figure it is a growth issue.

So, with teens, we don’t do them. It’s like a drill: no matter how good a drill is, if the bulk of the kids can’t do it within a few tries…move along. Dips are like that with me. If you don’t feel the stabbing, do them. If you do, don’t.

I have no opinion on dips being better or worse, richer or poorer, than anything else. I still like the Military Press for the answer to most questions…"

If Dan John says not to do them if its hurting, thats a good enough answer for me.[/quote]

I agree with this on an intellectual level, but can’t bring myself to follow the advice. I feel the sternum pain pretty badly doing weighted dips, but since it seems to be the only big upper body movement that my shoulders don’t decide they would like to do all the work for, I’m gonna keep doing them. Only 21 though, so I guess there’s a slim chance of the pain going away. Regardless, my response has been to man up and do them anyway. I shall post again when my rib cage is violently propelled across the weight room, which feels like a distinct possibility on occasion.

cheers guys. yeh i probably will switch to the bbb template cuz im just about to finish my second phase on the triumvirate, which was fun and had me doing new exercises, isn’t geared towards mass. i am 150lb soaking wet so i’l deffinitely try the bbb template.

cheers bonez but if it was just a matter of doing moree reps or sets i definitely would just pour myself a large glass of man the fuck up. but seeing as its arround bone tissue and its causeing discomfort even after the gym, i have decided to leave it incase it does affect my health. otherwise awesome advice in any situation :slight_smile:

I have had the same problem lately, I don’t think that I used to get it, at least not to the same extent that I do now. I have just, as others have mentioned, stopped doing them (weighted) altogether and starting doing more close-grip bench work.

cheers for the advice guys.

whilst i’ve got a thread open i was wondering what your thoughts are on back width exercises? i have measured myself from the outermost points on my shoulders and come back with a measely 18.5 inches and would like to add some width to this. obviously i will be doing MP as part of the 5/3/1 program which will comver the delt portion.

i have heard something (all be it with mixed reviews) on DC lat stretches and pull-ups. i am currently doing 100 pullups a week (un-weighted due to developing technique and lack of strength) consisting of two sessions of 5x10, but i am worried that the form i am using is not engaging my back enough, could someone break down the best way to get lat involvement in simple terms. i have done several searches on this site but none of the posts/articles seem to go into the detail i need.

i have only really just started doing the pull up regiem but i’m aiming to add alot of back width over te next year and any ideas on the subject would be much appreciated

First of all I want to say that as a beginner I think you should stick to the 5-3-1 BBB template, and let that work its magic alone for a while. If you’re doing things right, you will grow fine using just that.

But to actually address your question, here are some tidbits Ive picked up on back training:

-There are 2 things to work towards as far as growth is concerned…Thickness and Width. Both are equally important, so don’t just work toward one goal (you had stated you were looking for width, you also need thickness).
-My favorite exercises for thickness are: Deadlifts, bent over BB rows, and Kroc style DB Rows.
-My favorite exercises for width are: Rack Chins (DC style), Pullups, Pulldowns, and Gironda 45 degree pulley rows (I love these).
-For Deadlifts, I like doing heavy, high rep sets. Make sure your form is good before going all out on these. (12+ reps, 20 reps is my favorite)
-For Bent over Rows, I keep strict form and stay in the 8-12 rep range.
-Kroc Rows (High rep DB Rows), these are great for thickness.
-Rack Chins are something I learned from DC training that I have always felt hit my lats great. It sounds like you’re familiar with DC training so I wont go into it. Do a search on them if you’re unsure (I like to really burn out on these).
-My favorite way to do pull-ups is to do as many reps as possible for as many sets as it takes to get to 50 reps. Try to decrease the amount of sets every week.
-On pulldowns, make sure you are getting a complete stretch. In fact on all width exercises make sure you are getting as good of a stretch as possible on each rep. (8-12 reps)

  • Here is a link to the Gironda 45 degree pulley rows. I usually do sets of 8-12 on these also. If you don’t feel your lats getting hit after these, you’re doing them wrong.

As for your question on DC stretches… they work great, but I don’t know if you would need to use them quite yet. When you do though, progress slowly on the weight you use on them. Be smart and safe, you don’t want to tear anything.

As I said, you should probably hold off on these tidbits until you become a little more advanced. You don’t have to get super fancy in the beginning. Save them for later when you need something to get you growing again.

Hope some of that helps.

-MD

Cheers for all the help MD.
i am definitely going to start doing BBB on monday when i begin a new phase of 5/3/1. i will probably incorperate the rack chins and Gironda row as well because frankly my back needs all the help it can get width wise. Thickness wise i dont think i have too many issues as i have deadlift as a main exercis (and assistance now with BBB) and i am able to DB row a more than i can DB bench (with 5/3/1 i use 90lb DB for 5x10 on DB rows).

i am desperate to try to broaden out, i have been training for about 3-4 years with little progress (mainly due to diet and program hopping) and this is one of the major goals for me. if there is one thing 5/3/1 has taught me its be conservative with lifts and progress slowly to reduce risk of injury via ego lifting. i am going to attempt to do the gironda rows and rack chins using the BBB template (roughly 5x10 starting with a rediculously light weight until i am certain of my form)

Sounds like a good plan. Hope it works out for you.

If you ever want to chat on anything, feel free to send me a PM.