5 New Dips for Big Triceps and Pecs

by Bradford Cooke

Advanced Dips for Advanced Lifters

If the standard dip is too easy for you, try these tough variations and pack some size onto your upper body.

Dips build impressive upper bodies. If youโ€™ve got the mobility and use good technique, thereโ€™s no reason to avoid them. Here are five variations to make dips even better.

1. One-and-a-Half Dip (Top Emphasis)

Shift the emphasis to a different muscle group by spending more time in a smaller range of motion. While the chest and triceps are both taxed in the traditional dip, the triceps are largely responsible for the top half of the movement. Take advantage of this by adding a half rep at the top of each rep.

Start at the top, then lower under control with the shoulders pulled back to a comfortable position. Press back up to the straight-arm position, then lower to the halfway position and press back up again, flexing the triceps hard. This equals one rep.

Sets of 6 and above are an excellent stimulus.

2. One-and-a-Quarter Dip (Bottom Emphasis)

Accentuating the bottom portion places considerable stress on the chest while encouraging solid technique. The chest plays a major role in reversing out of the bottom position. A quarter-rep at the bottom provides extra time and tension in this stretched position.

This mini-rep also reduces the tendency to sloppily crash down to the bottom before pressing up, risking shoulder health. You must stay tight and engaged. Expect some serious chest soreness.

3. Gironda Dip

This old-school variant is uncommon today, but itโ€™ll give you an intense stretch and contraction. Youโ€™ll need a V-shaped dip stand instead of regular parallel bars.

Turn your hands inward so your knuckles face your body and your palms face outward. You want the bar to rest on the heel of the palm. From the top, lower yourself down into the stretched position while keeping your feet forward, chin tucked, and back rounded.

To reverse the movement, instead of pressing up, think about pulling the elbows together and squeezing the chest as you do so. Itโ€™s a unique sensation thatโ€™ll trigger your pecs to grow.

Only do these when youโ€™re warmed up and pumped โ€“ a bit later in your upper-body session. And donโ€™t try to do too much of a good thing. Pepper these in sporadically for a fun change, and to keep the novel stimulus fresh.

These may not be suited for everyone. Be conservative. If your mobility is lacking, your shoulders have a lot of mileage on them, or you lack dip strength, avoid these for now.

4. Ring Hold

This advanced version creates an intense contraction of the chest, arms, and shoulders.

Grab the rings tightly with your legs straight and feet squeezed together. Actively press your hands down while keeping your neck long. The key is to get your arms completely straight. Lock those triceps out and think about crushing something in your armpits. At the top, your thumbs should be facing forward or slightly outward.

Make the hold more challenging by tucking your knees or performing a low L-Sit. Straightening your arms may take some time, so if youโ€™re not there yet, try the same thing from a push-up position until strength and coordination develop.

I also like to use these as an activation drill before traditional bar dips. Your upper body will be primed after a few sets of holds. Start with 5-second holds and shoot for 30-second holds as you progress.

5. Full Ring Dips

Ring dips are a self-limiting exercise. You must get stable or you wonโ€™t be able to make it through a rep as the rings oscillate. If you get out of alignment, youโ€™ll get instant feedback. While this is a challenging version, many lifters find them kinder to the shoulders because the rings rotate freely rather than forcing your hands into a fixed position.

Technique-wise, the usual rules apply: lower under control with a slight forward lean and the shoulders pulled back. Since these are unstable, itโ€™s important to lower only to the range you can control. Then, fire up to the top. Youโ€™ll have a degree of elbow bend at the top, especially for higher-rep sets. Gradually, strive to attain a straight-arm support position with each rep.

Final Tip on Dips

To get the most out of your dips, work on shoulder extension. Thatโ€™s the action of bringing your arm behind your body. Without adequate shoulder extension, dips can be problematic.

Band shoulder extensions develop this. So, keep your chest proud, shoulder blades pulled back, and actively use your upper back to bring your arms behind your torso.

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