Should You Do Weighted Dips? (Simple Test) – 12 Important Tips

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weighted dipsWeighted dips are a hugely effective compound movement that builds a stronger and bigger chest, triceps and shoulders.

They are super effective due to the strength to mass ratio you can build by progressively overloading them from week to week as it has been proven that how much one can dip or bench, directly correlates with the size of the involved muscles.

It’s an exercise that has high carry over strength to all forms of benching, including incline, decline, flat, and for bodyweight athletes, the dip transfers effectively into movements such as handstands, planches, and handstand push ups


The weighted dip is a high reward movement… but also high risk

Unfortunately, the weighted dip isn’t safe for every individual, depending on their own morphology. The weighted dip is dependent on several things such as rib cage structure, arm length, shoulder girdle, and chest. Just one of these things not working on point can ruin the movement for you, and highly increase your risk of injury.

Unfortunately, one in three people have that problem; you need excellent thoracic and shoulder mobility.

So how can you do them heavy, but still safely? (without injuring yourself)

First, let’s start by measuring your range of motion in the dip with Daniel Vadnal form fitnessfaqs. In the video, he demonstrates how to measure exactly how deep you can or should go in a dip, with a simple test of shoulder mobility. Listen up and take notes here, this is probably one of the best explained videos on how deep you should dip and how shoulder mobility affects your chances of getting injured on the whole internet.


What else can you do?

Experiment with the dip grip. Try to see which width is best for you, but generally refraining from using a wide grip, especially if it is excessive.

Grabbing the dip bars narrower, equals to less stress on the shoulders and pecs, and also a reduced amount of internal rotation at the rotator cuff. Try it in your next dip routine and ask yourself, which grip feels better? I personally find that my shoulders are in a better alignment and feel much better with a narrow grip.

Stabilize your wrists as much as possible. Weighted dips require a lot of stabilization and therefore, under all that pressure, it’s easy to hurt your wrists. You can use wrist wraps to make everything tighter, and reduce the risk of injuring yourself. If you feel yourself shaking around the wrists, you really should look into finding a way to provide further stabilization.

If you have sternum pain, it could either be because you have weak tendons in the surrounding area, or because your anatomy is naturally making it hard on you and therefore you really need to play around with grip and depth to figure out what is the safest form, for you.

Stretch to keep your upper body muscles from tightening up.

You’ll need to warm up extensively with bodyweight dips, and be sure that you absolutely can and are conditioned to standard, bodyweight dips for possibly over 20 reps, before you even think about starting using weight.

Periodize you weighted dip training properly and avoid any ego lifting, or excessive testing of 1 rep maxes 3 times a week.


What we have said so far:

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  • Strengthen your chest area
  •  Warm up properly
  •  Condition yourself with bodyweight basics
  •  Do stretches to keep everything loose ( chest, lats, shoulders)



Other things you can do

Pullovers – to get a good stretch and strengthen the concerned surrounding areas

Ring dips – To learn the natural movement pattern of a dip. Due to their unfixed nature, ring dips will force you to follow a more natural dip, push up, and pull up pattern and also make you stronger in that range of motion due to the extra stability that is required. You can use them to really externally rotate at the top of the movement, rotate your hands outwards, to work against that constant internal rotation that is often overdone to the point of injury.

Learn how to retract the scapula and move in a proper straight line, controlling the movement all the way through and again, keeping to the appropriate range of motion for you.

Really working on the standard bodyweight variant and conditioning your body in this way, will make you much stronger on weighted dips, and possibly reduce or even eliminate any sternum pain you may previously have been having. Of course, this is different for everyone and if you do feel constant or excessive pain, you should consult a medical professional before anything else, and consider doing something else if the situation does not improve at all.


General form cues to watch out for

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  • If you are feeling pain under your scapula ( subscapularis muscles that help in movement of the scapula on your back), you may be lacking in a proper amount of thoracic extension. This means widening of the rib cage, not pinning your shoulder blades back, but really trying to form a sort of “barrel” chest. Think, almost like a bodybuilder lat spread pose on stage.  Remember: draw your shoulder blades down, and flare your chest, upwards. provide as much natural “extension” as you can, meaning, you open up your chest and externally rotate, as much as is comfortable.[/custom_list]

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  • Use a range of motion appropriate for you. Refer to the video above to know how deep you should go. If your shoulders start rolling forward towards the bottom of the movement, you are putting your shoulders in a very uncomfortable and dangerous position, which can cause serious injuries over time, especially with weighted dips. Drop the ego and use the right range of motion. You should feel it in your chest, triceps, but not all in the anterior delts. If that is happening, you need to re-work your form.[/custom_list]


Weighted dips – Conclusion

So there you have it. Dips are effectively a powerful strength and mass building exercise that can give you great results, but should be used with caution. A surprising amount of people can’t perform a dip without pain or it feeling unnatural, at least at first, and for some, their morphology is just not cut for this movement. Use the video above to self check on your safe possible dip range of motion, and work on improving it from there if possible.

Apply the cues above to work on improving your thoracic extension and overall strength of the involved connect tissues and muscles. Use a mirror or film yourself to monitor your form and see what you can do to improve it by following the tips in the guide.

Remember that if you are feeling excessive discomfort or pain, you should already be seeking professional medical advice before attempting to make things better yourself.

Having said that, are weighted dips a staple of your own training? Do you or have you personally ever felt any discomfort in the movement? What is the maximum amount of weight you’ve ever dipped? Comment below so that we can get a conversation going!


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