When we talk about bodyweight exercises, dips are one of the absolute best exercises for targeting the chest, shoulders and triceps. Actually, you often hear that more experienced people prefer dips over bench press and I have to agree with them.
The beauty with dips is that you can easily modify them to target more chest than shoulder and triceps, as well as the other way around. The trick is very simple.
When you want to put more stress on your chest, you just lean forward so your torso is close to 45 degrees. On the other hand, if you want to address the triceps, you just keep your torso as vertical as possible. Finally, to focus on the shoulders, you keep your shoulders positioned in front of your hands.
So dips are great but there is one small issue. We need some sort of equipment to do them.
Normally, dips are performed on a dip station, parallel bars or in rings. If you are serious about your training, I highly recommend you to invest in one of these but in the beginning or when away from home, it would be good to have a way of doing dips. And luckily there is 🙂
In this article, I will show you different to do dips at home or any other place without gym equipment.
But before we start, let’s take a fast walk through of some important points for a dip.
The shoulders should be back and down. An internally rotated shoulder will cause a bad posture and a lot of negative stress on the shoulder joints.
Work with a full range of motion. The dip starts with fully extended arms and no shrugged shoulders. From there, you go down as deep as possible. How deep depends on your mobility. Don’t overdo it.
Elbows should be kept close to the body and not flap out like wings. Elbows out from your body will make the shoulders rotate internally and bring them forward in a bad position.
Depending on the equipment we use, the performance of the dip will vary a bit but the above rules should be applied where possible.
How to do dips at home
Leg supported dips.
The first version and the easiest is where we use the legs with some extension.
Dips can be hard on your shoulders, therefore, make sure to start with a version you can handle. Leg supported dips are very easy to adjust, so I really recommend that you start here.
This version will force our torso to stay vertical and also keep the shoulders in front of our hands. Therefore, it will put more stress on the shoulders and triceps than the chest.
Place your hands with fingers pointing forwards and shoulder width apart on the couch/table or bench.
Extend your legs, or tuck them if needed. Tucked legs will make the exercise easier.
To make the exercise harder, you can elevate the legs.
With two chairs, tables, boxes or benches, you can put more stress on the chest as you can lean forward.
The performance is the same as described above and here you can also elevate legs to make them harder.
Free hanging dips
When you are strong enough, it’s time to do the dips with your complete body weight. Again, don’t rush it. Shoulder injuries are no joke. Make sure that you master the leg supported version first, with a good form.
Make sure both chairs are stable and that they are high enough to keep your knees off the ground in the bottom position.
Grab the chair’s back and tuck your leg under yourself
Perform the dip as described above.
Two tables of different height
Build up to the same height and make sure it’s a stable construction
In both of these versions, you can focus on the chest, triceps or shoulders.
This is a good stable construction, but the focus will be on the shoulders and triceps.
At some point, free hanging dips will also become easy for you, meaning when you can do 10-15 reps for 5 rounds. Then it’s time to progress.
By adding weight, we, of course, make the exercise harder. Here are some ways to do it.
Put on a backpack with weights
Hold a weight between your legs
Hang a weight from your belt or neck