T Nation

Trouble With Dips


I'm having trouble doing dips.

I can go down in a controlled manner, but getting up is a whole other story. I also think I might be lowering myself too far - to what depth should I lower myself?

Assuming that I'm not going down too far, what's the best way to build up strength to get to full, proper dips?



Dips are like squats- you don't get brownie points for going past parallel, but people who know dips know it gets harder the farther into the hole you get. I find it's just a better exercise when I go down as far as I can.

If you can't get up, you're either fat, weak, or both. Drop the weight, and either do negative reps (just lowering yourself under control) or close grip benching until you get some decent strength in your triceps and feel you can use dips as part of a program again.


Thanks for your reply.

I'll give the close grip bench presses a shot to try and get my triceps moving a bit more.


You can also just lower yourself to the point where you can push yourself back up again. You can increase the ROM every workout, but I think there's a point where going too low will be more detrimental than benificial. Just use a dipping belt when you can already go down till parallel easily.


I'll second what Otep said...go to at least parallel. As far as building strength, CG BP will definitely help...but I think nothing is better than negatives. Get up in the start position and begin to slowly lower yourself...take as long as possible and go as low as possible until you reach failure.

Eventually you will have to sort of jump up to get in the start position...so you will need something to step up on if your dip station doesn't have some sort of steps on the outsides. You can stack 45lbs plates to use as a step.


Also keep in mind that there are two different dip forms. One is with your elbows tucked and your torso upright....this targets the triceps. The other is your elbows flared slightly and torso leaned forward...this targets the chest and anterior delts.


The OP already said he can do the 'down' part of the dips in a controlled manner but it's the 'up' part he's having trouble with, so I don't think controlled eccentrics will help him much.

If I was you madquarker I would concentrate on replicating the movement as closely as possible. If your gym has a dip/chin assist machine, by all means use it, but remember you are trying to work up to using no assist and eventually weighted dips. If your gym doesn't have an assist machine, than you might ask your workout partner(or just someone in the gym who you wouldn't mind asking) to give you a bit of help with the 'up' part of the movement.

Nothing wrong with the suggestions already mentioned, just my two cents.


Thanks for all your replies.

JPCleary: Currently I've been trying to do the elbows tucked, torso upright kind of dip you described; would this be the correct one to master before attempting the other one? Does it even matter?

Jereth: I get where you're coming from. I think I was going way too deep before, which is why I was having so much trouble getting back up. I can definitely go just to parallel, but since I'm a bit bigger (6'2.5) I was trying to get lower for a bigger ROM. I'll go back to the parallel dips and work my way slowly down.



No...the difference in the two techniques is just a matter of what muscle group you are trying to target.


I figured as much. I suspect I'm making everything entirely too complicated again -_-


That's the best way IMO. A couple of workouts and you're there.
Go REASONABLY deep when you're finally comfortable with full range of motion.
Dips are a tough exercise if you're a bit on the fat side, but worth a try - they'll strengthen your triceps and front delts (if you lean forward) esp. with added weight.

BTW, where do you place them in your workout?