So you’re short on time and want to have a quick workout to pump your chest. You’re wondering whether dips are enough for chest – both in terms of the pump and to stimulate muscle growth. You’ll be pleased to know that you can have an effective chest workout performing JUST dips. We’ll look at how you can get the most out of this exercise and show you a great way to pair the dip with the humble push up to get an awesome pump and pack on some serious muscle.
In a hurry? Sit back and enjoy the video version of this article.
What Are Dips And How To Perform Them?
Dips are a popular bodyweight exercise particularly loved by the calisthenic community.
Traditionally, they are considered to be an exercise for triceps, but they also have a huge impact on the pecs and other muscles of the upper body.
Dips are performed on parallel bars or a dip stand and involve supporting your bodyweight with your arms alone, and lowering your body between the bars before pushing your self back up again.
Here is a quick reminder of how to do dips with proper form:
- Hold the parallel bars so that your arms are straight. Lean your torso forward so that it’s at about a 45-degree angle to the bars.
- Extend your straightened legs out so that your feet are directly below your head. Try to keep this shape throughout your set of dips.
- Slowly bend your elbows to lower your body into the dip aiming for a 90 degree bend at the elbows. Your upper arms should be about parallel to the ground.
- Drive your body up to the starting position by straightening your arms.
- Do not allow your elbows to flare out at any time during the movement.
For a good demonstration and some tips of common mistakes when dipping, check out this video:
Are Dips Enough For Chest?
There are two main muscles that make up the mass of the chest – these are the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor.
While the barbell bench press is the undisputed king of chest exercises the dip has been shown to be around 70% as effective.
To put that in perspective, the push up is only around 60% as effective.
However, it’s possible to increase the effectiveness of dips by applying the following hacks.
How to Enhance Dips
These hacks will help you to take your dips to the next level and intensify the focus on your chest muscles. By adding these accessories to your dip, you’ll find that you transform your dip workout.
Place a towel over the back of your neck. Take a closed resistance band (the looped band as opposed to a resistance band with handles) and place it over towel so that it is hung around your neck. Now hold each side as you get into the starting position for your dips.
The resistance band will enhance the negative phase of your dipping movement and in doing so increase the engagement of your muscles as you work your way through the set.
You may need to loop the band around your hands to increase the tension.
Lifting chains were the ‘in’ gym accessory a few years back – and for good reason.
But in this context we’re using them simply as a convenient way to add resistance to your dip as opposed to their intended purpose of building progressive weight through a lift.
Simply take a set of lifting chains drape them around your neck and position yourself to start the dip.
You’ll immediately feel the extra weight and can add more chains as you become stronger.
This will have the same effect as adding chains to your dips, but will be a lot cheaper, given that weight belts are very inexpensive.
However, you do get what you pay for and I find weight belts to be quite cumbersome and uncomfortable.
They do the job though and if this is your only option of adding extra weight – you’ll be just fine.
Take It To The Next Level By Adding Push Ups
Let’s face it: if you can perform dips you can hit the ground and knock out a few push-ups too!
And why wouldn’t you want to?
Push ups are an excellent exercise for the chest and they compliment dips very well.
Dips tend to focus on the lower pectorals whereas push-ups focus on the mid chest area. By elevating your feet on a chair or sofa while performing them, you shift the emphasis further up the chest.
For this reason we recommend super setting your dips with feet-raised press ups to hit all areas of the chest and build sculpted, round pectorals.
You’ll also find that you will exhaust the pectoral muscles quicker by working out in this way.
You’ll be increasing the efficiency AND effectiveness of your chest workout.
The Dips Chest Workout
Let’s put everything we’ve learnt in this article, into a simple, brutal workout that will get your pecs bulging in no time at all!
But before we do – a quick note about your warm up.
Make sure that you’ve thoroughly warmed up all the muscles of your upper body BEFORE working through this workout.
Start with some light cardio such as jogging-on-the-spot, jumping jacks and mountain climbers for 5 minutes and then move on to some ballistic upper-body stretching.
Aim to complete this within 20 minutes or until failure.
That will translate to 40 seconds to complete each set and 1 minute 20 seconds of rest between each set. By using a HIIT timer, you will pace yourself throughout the entire workout and be more likely to complete it.
The first few sets may seem ridiculously easy, but don’t be tempted to add extra reps – instead focus on getting through the latter sets where you are loaded up with extra weight.
This is a +100 rep chest workout that will stress every fibre of your pecs!
Feel free to add some jumping jacks or light cardio into your rest period.
|5||Dips with added resistance||6-10||Add either resistance bands / chains / weight harness|
|6||Press Up With Feet Raised||12||Use push up bars to deepen the press up|
|7||Dips with added resistance||6-10|
|8||Press Up With Feet Raised||12|
|9||Dips with added resistance||6-10|
|10||Press Up With Feet Raised||12|
Are You Dipping For Chest Development?
That just about wraps up this article. Are dips enough for chest? Yes, but as we’ve seen, there are things you can do to increase their effectiveness.
In truth, I don’t believe that there is any exercise that comes close to the barbell bench press for total chest engagement, but that doesn’t mean that dips can’t still build an impressive set of pecs.
If you throw in some press ups on top, you’ll have a heroic looking chest in no time at all.
Let me know in the comments if you tackled the dips chest workout and whether you have found dips to be an effective way to build your chest.