T Nation

Joel Seedman on Dips


#1

Joel Seedman’s recent article on dips says that you shouldn’t dip past 90 degrees.


However, in this older article, it looked like dips were recommended as a good tool to achieve an exaggerated stretch…

It would be nice if the author himself could clarify his stance here. However, what do you guys think about this?


#2

Can you point out where you see a contradiction? I don’t see one.


#3

I think dips is dependant on the individual.

I can easily pass 90 degrees and I don’t have any problems with my shoulders. And I do dips 2-3 times a week.

Although I can see how it would aggravate the shoulder structure and going beyond 90 may not be the best idea for some.

Disclaimer: Im no expert on shoulders.

tweet


#4

ROM on dips (or with any exercise really) is a very individual thing. The issue with full ROM dips is that they’re fine for people with excellent shoulder mobility. Those who don’t fall into that group will “cheat” on their ROM by internally rotating their shoulders and letting them come forward. If you couple that with additional weight hanging from your belt and/or volume, really bad things tend to happen. Kelly Starrett addresses some of this here:


#5

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:
Joel Seedman’s recent article on dips says that you shouldn’t dip past 90 degrees.
https://www.T-Nation.com/training/dips-youre-doing-them-wrong
However, in this older article, it looked like dips were recommended as a good tool to achieve an exaggerated stretch…
https://www.T-Nation.com/training/best-way-to-lift-weights

It would be nice if the author himself could clarify his stance here. However, what do you guys think about this?[/quote]

I believe I know what you’re saying.

First, you can always contact Seedman and ask for clarification. Don’t they do Q&As on fb these days…?

Secondly, this method eccentric isometrics has merit. However, if a given movement can be provocative for an individual in the stretched - or any - position, then it’s prudent to use something else.

Dips, for those who can do them safely, is a fantastic movement. Unfortunately, some people have a knack for fucking these up like everything else they do in the gym.

Variations in acromion type, bicipital groove depth, any existing labrum tear, pec tendon health, bicep tendon health are just SOME of the many factors to consider.

Overwhelmed yet? I don’t blame you. Most just want to hit the gym and “lift heavy shit” or “get pumped blind” or even both.

So here’s the take home message:

  • Use the 90 degree guideline as a starting point. Some can go deeper. Some must NOT.

  • Ignore anyone who tells you the upper arm must touch the lower arm for the rep to be legit; this is the asinine equivalent of saying everyone must squat atg.

  • Slight forward lean with the torso as you descend is much safer than the vertical position. You’ll be able to retract the scaps much more easily and center the humeral head in the glenoid fossa. You want to minimize forward or upper migration of the humeral head within the fossa. As you return to the starting position, it is perfectly acceptable for the torso to return to a more vertical position; but this is optional.

  • If you want to incorporate the eccentric isometrics protocol, use another movement in which you can use much lighter weights (unless bw dip is a walk in the park for you). Once you’ve built the requisite strength, proprioception, technique to do so without hurting yourself, then you can apply the method to this particular exercise. In other words, as you become more in tune with your body and the exercise, you’ll probably be able to answer your own question.

As this thread evolves with differing views, I’ll revisit and possibly comment further.


#6

[quote]goochadamg wrote:
Can you point out where you see a contradiction? I don’t see one.
[/quote]

Well, in the eccentric isometrics article he recommened exercises where the barbell doesn’t meet your chest, artificially shorteening your ROM, and dips were one such exercise. Now, if I stop at 90 degrees, then my ROM is smaller than a barbell bench press’, not larger, hence the confusion.

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
Kelly Starrett
[/quote]

Good stuff.

[quote]MinotaurXXX wrote:
I believe I know what you’re saying.

First, you can always contact Seedman and ask for clarification. Don’t they do Q&As on fb these days…?

Secondly, this method eccentric isometrics has merit. However, if a given movement can be provocative for an individual in the stretched - or any - position, then it’s prudent to use something else.

Dips, for those who can do them safely, is a fantastic movement. Unfortunately, some people have a knack for fucking these up like everything else they do in the gym.

Variations in acromion type, bicipital groove depth, any existing labrum tear, pec tendon health, bicep tendon health are just SOME of the many factors to consider.

Overwhelmed yet? I don’t blame you. Most just want to hit the gym and “lift heavy shit” or “get pumped blind” or even both.

So here’s the take home message:

*Use the 90 degree guideline as a starting point. Some can go deeper. Some must NOT.

*Ignore anyone who tells you the upper arm must touch the lower arm for the rep to be legit; this is the asinine equivalent of saying everyone must squat atg.

*Slight forward lean with the torso as you descend is much safer than the vertical position. You’ll be able to retract the scaps much more easily and center the humeral head in the glenoid fossa. You want to minimize forward or upper migration of the humeral head within the fossa. As you return to the starting position, it is perfectly acceptable for the torso to return to a more vertical position; but this is optional.

*If you want to incorporate the eccentric isometrics protocol, use another movement in which you can use much lighter weights (unless bw dip is a walk in the park for you). Once you’ve built the requisite strength, proprioception, technique to do so without hurting yourself, then you can apply the method to this particular exercise. In other words, as you become more in tune with your body and the exercise, you’ll probably be able to answer your own question.

As this thread evolves with differing views, I’ll revisit and possibly comment further.

[/quote]

Thanks a lot. Great points.

  • not using fb.
  • yes, I’m good enough at dips to use the EI protocol with long pauses. But I had been thinking, recently, that going really deep was actually easier than not so deep (but still a lot deeper than 90 degrees ; 90 degrees feels like partials to me…). That got me thinking that, yes, it might be that pathssive structures such as tendons were being relied upon a lot, possibly excessively.
  • about form, I tend to think that if you focus on keeping the forearms vertical and avoid flaring wildly to the sides, then, yes, the shoulders should shoot forward and you should have a decent amount of froward lean, that sort of takes care of itself.
    So…I suppose I should not drop as low as I possibly can, even if i’m not compensating, and nothing is hurting? Assuming the goal is not too train the tendons so much as the muscle bellies? Thanks again.

#7

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:

[quote]MinotaurXXX wrote:
I believe I know what you’re saying.

First, you can always contact Seedman and ask for clarification. Don’t they do Q&As on fb these days…?

Secondly, this method eccentric isometrics has merit. However, if a given movement can be provocative for an individual in the stretched - or any - position, then it’s prudent to use something else.

Dips, for those who can do them safely, is a fantastic movement. Unfortunately, some people have a knack for fucking these up like everything else they do in the gym.

Variations in acromion type, bicipital groove depth, any existing labrum tear, pec tendon health, bicep tendon health are just SOME of the many factors to consider.

Overwhelmed yet? I don’t blame you. Most just want to hit the gym and “lift heavy shit” or “get pumped blind” or even both.

So here’s the take home message:

*Use the 90 degree guideline as a starting point. Some can go deeper. Some must NOT.

*Ignore anyone who tells you the upper arm must touch the lower arm for the rep to be legit; this is the asinine equivalent of saying everyone must squat atg.

*Slight forward lean with the torso as you descend is much safer than the vertical position. You’ll be able to retract the scaps much more easily and center the humeral head in the glenoid fossa. You want to minimize forward or upper migration of the humeral head within the fossa. As you return to the starting position, it is perfectly acceptable for the torso to return to a more vertical position; but this is optional.

*If you want to incorporate the eccentric isometrics protocol, use another movement in which you can use much lighter weights (unless bw dip is a walk in the park for you). Once you’ve built the requisite strength, proprioception, technique to do so without hurting yourself, then you can apply the method to this particular exercise. In other words, as you become more in tune with your body and the exercise, you’ll probably be able to answer your own question.

As this thread evolves with differing views, I’ll revisit and possibly comment further.

[/quote]

Thanks a lot. Great points.

  • not using fb.
  • yes, I’m good enough at dips to use the EI protocol with long pauses. But I had been thinking, recently, that going really deep was actually easier than not so deep (but still a lot deeper than 90 degrees ; 90 degrees feels like partials to me…). That got me thinking that, yes, it might be that pathssive structures such as tendons were being relied upon a lot, possibly excessively.
  • about form, I tend to think that if you focus on keeping the forearms vertical and avoid flaring wildly to the sides, then, yes, the shoulders should shoot forward and you should have a decent amount of froward lean, that sort of takes care of itself.
    So…I suppose I should not drop as low as I possibly can, even if i’m not compensating, and nothing is hurting? Assuming the goal is not too train the tendons so much as the muscle bellies? Thanks again.[/quote]

Will respond shortly. Been a hectic week…


#8

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:

Well, in the eccentric isometrics article he recommened exercises where the barbell doesn’t meet your chest, artificially shorteening your ROM, and dips were one such exercise. Now, if I stop at 90 degrees, then my ROM is smaller than a barbell bench press’, not larger, hence the confusion.
[/quote]

If you look at the distance between your wrists and shoulders - yes. If you look at how far behind your back the elbow travels (= the shoulder socket extends) - no, the opposite.


#9

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:

Well, in the eccentric isometrics article he recommened exercises where the barbell doesn’t meet your chest, artificially shorteening your ROM, and dips were one such exercise. Now, if I stop at 90 degrees, then my ROM is smaller than a barbell bench press’, not larger, hence the confusion.
[/quote]

If you look at the distance between your wrists and shoulders - yes. If you look at how far behind your back the elbow travels (= the shoulder socket extends) - no, the opposite.
[/quote]

Well, the total ROM of the shoulder would still be really small. And it would be somewhat small for the elbow as well. Now, if you mean that you can still get a decent pec stretch, then maybe…but:

  • the capacity for pure shoulder extension is limited anyway
  • although you’re not supposed to flare the elbows excessively like the author said, you are still supposed to get some degree of shoulder abduction (and horizontal abduction). I just don’t think the stretch is significant in this position, it’s like doing a decline (where the ROM is already shorter than flat bench) and not even getting the barbell to touch your body…

#10

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:

Well, in the eccentric isometrics article he recommened exercises where the barbell doesn’t meet your chest, artificially shorteening your ROM, and dips were one such exercise. Now, if I stop at 90 degrees, then my ROM is smaller than a barbell bench press’, not larger, hence the confusion.
[/quote]

If you look at the distance between your wrists and shoulders - yes. If you look at how far behind your back the elbow travels (= the shoulder socket extends) - no, the opposite.
[/quote]

Well, the total ROM of the shoulder would still be really small. And it would be somewhat small for the elbow as well. Now, if you mean that you can still get a decent pec stretch, then maybe…but:

  • the capacity for pure shoulder extension is limited anyway
  • although you’re not supposed to flare the elbows excessively like the author said, you are still supposed to get some degree of shoulder abduction (and horizontal abduction). I just don’t think the stretch is significant in this position, it’s like doing a decline (where the ROM is already shorter than flat bench) and not even getting the barbell to touch your body…
    [/quote]

The toal rom in a 90° dip isn’t that big, no. However, that’s mainly due to the fact that the full contracted position has your humerus roughly parallel to the shoulder blade - any kind of benching would have it at 90° in front. However, the stretch on the pecs (at the other end of the ROM) is much bigger than it is with a standard bench.


#11

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

The toal rom in a 90Ã???Ã??Ã?° dip isn’t that big, no. However, that’s mainly due to the fact that the full contracted position has your humerus roughly parallel to the shoulder blade - any kind of benching would have it at 90Ã???Ã??Ã?° in front. However, the stretch on the pecs (at the other end of the ROM) is much bigger than it is with a standard bench.
[/quote]
You’re under this impression because of the shoulder extension (which the shoulder has a very limited capacity for anyway), but as I said above, I don’t think that’s good enough for the pecs, you need some abduction as well, and in this respect the stretch will be very modest if you stop the descent this early.


#12

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:

[quote]MinotaurXXX wrote:
I believe I know what you’re saying.

First, you can always contact Seedman and ask for clarification. Don’t they do Q&As on fb these days…?

Secondly, this method eccentric isometrics has merit. However, if a given movement can be provocative for an individual in the stretched - or any - position, then it’s prudent to use something else.

Dips, for those who can do them safely, is a fantastic movement. Unfortunately, some people have a knack for fucking these up like everything else they do in the gym.

Variations in acromion type, bicipital groove depth, any existing labrum tear, pec tendon health, bicep tendon health are just SOME of the many factors to consider.

Overwhelmed yet? I don’t blame you. Most just want to hit the gym and “lift heavy shit” or “get pumped blind” or even both.

So here’s the take home message:

*Use the 90 degree guideline as a starting point. Some can go deeper. Some must NOT.

*Ignore anyone who tells you the upper arm must touch the lower arm for the rep to be legit; this is the asinine equivalent of saying everyone must squat atg.

*Slight forward lean with the torso as you descend is much safer than the vertical position. You’ll be able to retract the scaps much more easily and center the humeral head in the glenoid fossa. You want to minimize forward or upper migration of the humeral head within the fossa. As you return to the starting position, it is perfectly acceptable for the torso to return to a more vertical position; but this is optional.

*If you want to incorporate the eccentric isometrics protocol, use another movement in which you can use much lighter weights (unless bw dip is a walk in the park for you). Once you’ve built the requisite strength, proprioception, technique to do so without hurting yourself, then you can apply the method to this particular exercise. In other words, as you become more in tune with your body and the exercise, you’ll probably be able to answer your own question.

As this thread evolves with differing views, I’ll revisit and possibly comment further.

[/quote]

Thanks a lot. Great points.

  • not using fb.
  • yes, I’m good enough at dips to use the EI protocol with long pauses. But I had been thinking, recently, that going really deep was actually easier than not so deep (but still a lot deeper than 90 degrees ; 90 degrees feels like partials to me…). That got me thinking that, yes, it might be that pathssive structures such as tendons were being relied upon a lot, possibly excessively.
  • about form, I tend to think that if you focus on keeping the forearms vertical and avoid flaring wildly to the sides, then, yes, the shoulders should shoot forward and you should have a decent amount of froward lean, that sort of takes care of itself.
    So…I suppose I should not drop as low as I possibly can, even if i’m not compensating, and nothing is hurting? Assuming the goal is not too train the tendons so much as the muscle bellies? Thanks again.[/quote]

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:
not using fb.
[/quote]

I don’t use fb either; closed out my account around '09 or '10 and haven’t regretted it one bit. Although I can see why businesses need it to build an online presence. So if you want Seedman’s take on your questions, you’ll need to find another method to contact him. Maybe email him or use a friend’s fb account.

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:

  • yes, I’m good enough at dips to use the EI protocol with long pauses. But I had been thinking, recently, that going really deep was actually easier than not so deep (but still a lot deeper than 90 degrees ; 90 degrees feels like partials to me…). That got me thinking that, yes, it might be that pathssive structures such as tendons were being relied upon a lot, possibly excessively.
    [/quote]

Without watching you dip under a challenging load (because anyone can display textbook form with light weights), I can only make educated guesses.

It could be that you’re: 1) engaging the stretch reflex in the connective tissue; 2) by shifting the load to the connective tissue, your muscles are briefly disengaging AND resting. Both these factors, when combined can make any movement feel easier. After all, the body will always look for the most efficient path. Bodybuilding is a different animal in that we’re often trying to do just the opposite.

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:

  • about form, I tend to think that if you focus on keeping the forearms vertical and avoid flaring wildly to the sides, then, yes, the shoulders should shoot forward and you should have a decent amount of froward lean, that sort of takes care of itself.
    [/quote]

The forearms should stay relatively vertical.

However, there’s no need to keep the elbows tucked directly to the sides of the torso as Seedman states. 45 degrees OR less is perfectly acceptable and you can still engage your lats.

You might want to look into using dipping stations have the bars flaring slightly out. Face inward, so you’re looking at the part where the bars taper in. This setup will accommodate a slight to moderate flare - the exact angle you can only find through experience - without putting undue stress on the wrists and elbows.

When the elbows are tucked directly to the sides, most people WILL have to shorten the range in order to prevent excessive migration of the humeral head. Remember, we want to minimize this for long-term shoulder health. Therefore, the angle I mentioned can buy you a little more depth - IF you have the shoulder construction, overall mobility, and discipline to do so - and keep you safe.

Another benefit to this approach is you’ll most likely engage your pecs better. The main concentric action for pec major is horizontal adduction of the humerus, the upper arm bones. By leaning forward and moderately angling out the elbows as you descend, you’re better placing the pecs in a stretched position which means they’re more likely to engage - as long as the stretch position isn’t extreme or held too long as this can down regulate them. As you press, the humerus are moving towards the midline; this is essentially horizontal adduction.

Just don’t go extreme with this method by using the Gironda dip or variants. I’m convinced there are very few individuals who can do this type long term and stay healthy.

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:
So…I suppose I should not drop as low as I possibly can, even if i’m not compensating, and nothing is hurting? Assuming the goal is not too train the tendons so much as the muscle bellies? Thanks again.
[/quote]

As I stated in my first post here, a few can go slightly below 90. As you go deeper, the risks increase but not the reward.

Try it with bar setup and moderate elbow flare I mentioned earlier. You might be surprised that 90-100 is all you need for a viable compromise between what’s effective and what’s safe.

Yes, use pain - the wrong kind - as an indicator that you’re screwing up. But I take things to a more sophisticated and proactive level. And you should too.

Let me explain.

There are meatheads who ignored the early warning signs and drowned them out with nsaids, fish oil, and rationalization - because real men don’t take time off - until they inevitably pay the price and get to wear the broke dick hat.

And there are people who felt perfectly good that fateful day. The warm ups and initial working sets go without a hitch. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, that hideous pop and they realize they need to change their zip code to Snap City. We can do a post-mortem and figure what why they injured themselves; it’s usually a programming error. Regardless, these cases are more difficult to predict. This is what keeps me up at night researching how to best stay healthy.

Obviously, in our quest to become stronger and more muscular, we have to take risks. But they must be calculated and any unnecessary actions must be recognized and discarded.

Always ask yourself: how can I maximize the gains and minimize the danger? Am I ego lifting, is my technique shit, do I even need this movement for my particular goals, am I working out imbalances, taking proper deloads? These are the questions you should consider.


#13

Thank you Minotaur, excellent stuff.