When it comes to calisthenics routines, your best exercises are compound movements.
But what about the dip?
Truth be told, the dip is vastly underutilized in gyms across the world. Dips could very well be the most important exercise to implement in your calisthenics workouts.
Having a dip bar in your home gym is an excellent addition to your house of gains.
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In this article, we’ll go over the benefits of the dip, how to use dip bars, what to consider when buying your dip bars, other exercises you can do with this versatile piece of equipment, and a dip bar workout we’ve constructed at the end.
Also, we’ll give you an inside look to our favorite dip bars on the market that you can get your hands on today.
Let’s get started!
Benefits of Dips
In a surprising twist, it turns out dips give you more benefits than push-ups. That’s right: The top exercise for your upper-body push muscles is in fact the dip.
The range of benefits are clear:
- Ultimately superior to the push-up: These two exercises are similar in many ways, but dips take the gain cake here. The reason why is that when you’re performing dips you’re moving your entire body weight. With push-ups, you can only lift a fraction of your total weight, even with feet elevated. (And if you elevate too far, that’s a handstand push-up, which targets the shoulders more.)
- Lockout strength improves: When you dip, you lockout your elbows at the top to complete your rep. Oftentimes, this portion of the rep is the toughest for you. Getting stronger with your dips translates to greater lockout strength. This will help you out tremendously with other lockout exercises, like overhead presses or bench press.
- It’s a Closed Kinetic Chain exercise: What this means is you’re moving your body while keeping your hands or feet fixed in a position. Because it’s a Closed Kinetic Chain (CKC) exercise, it works opposing upper body parts when lifting and The reverse CKC movement for the upper body would be the pull-up, as it works the upper body muscles throughout the whole rep.
- Add all the weight: Dips are like pull-ups again in that you can add unlimited plates to a weight belt when performing your reps. If you get yourself a dip belt, you can continue to progress in dips past the traditional body weight verison. If you don’t want to get a dip belt, a backpack filled with additional weight will do the trick.
- Thick upper body mass: With progressive overload in the dips, combined with a diet that mirrors your bodybuilding goals, your upper body mass will grow like none other. Dips are amazing for increasing muscle in your upper body, by far the best of any calisthenics movement.
The muscle mass benefit alone should be enough to spur you into adding dip bars to your gym and weighted dips to your workout regimen.
What Muscles Do Dips Build?
Specifically speaking, dips target a plethora of upper body muscles. Primarily, they work the triceps, chest, and shoulders, but the whole movement serves as much more.
The number one targeted muscle is the pectoralis major, or your main chest muscle. The farther forward you lean while you dip, the more the pecs are utilized to perform the movement.
This, coupled with the fact that you can add as much weight as you want, makes it the premiere chest exercise for a calisthenics workout.
Synergist muscles, or muscles that aid the pectoralis major in the dip, include your anterior deltoids, your triceps brachii, the pectoralis minor, your rhomboids, your latissimus dorsi, and the teres major.
This translates to the front of the shoulders, the backside of your arms (a.k.a. your triceps), your outer chest, your inner upper back, your middle outer back, and your muscles in between the LATs and rhomboids.
In short, the dip affects much of the upper body, both in the front and the back.
Additionally, your lower trapezius – your neck and inner upper back muscle group – acts as a stabilizer throughout the dip motions.
So dips work all of the muscles in your upper and middle back, all of the pecs in your chest, your triceps muscle group, and the front of your shoulders.
Sounds like a pretty good deal.
How To Use Dip Bars
The majority of dip bars consist of two parallel bars that are horizontal to the ground. In order to use this equipment, simply grab the bars, one hand each, and lift yourself into the air. You should be suspended in a standing stance.
To perform the dip, bend your legs up towards your body, lean forward a little, and lower your body down, hinging at the elbows.
Once your elbows are at ninety degrees or lower, you raise your body back up to the original position.
The trick is to maintain a solid grip of the bars.
This is where your power stems from. Engage your chest by flexing your pecs, as well as the anterior deltoids in the shoulders. Your triceps will definitely get a workout too.
What Height Dip Bars Are Recommended?
The height of your dip bars depends on a few factors.
Of course, your body’s height is one of them. How tall are you? Odds are, you don’t want to bend your legs too far.
You want your legs to have a natural bend, so you want a decent amount of space to move them around
Another factor is whether you add weight or not. If you use a dip belt, plates are hanging from your body beneath you as you dip.
So you should have room between the floor and the plates when you’re at the bottom of the dip.
However, if you are a beginner, you’ll want to access the ground easily.
Whether you’re doing negatives (jumping using your legs at the bottom) or unsure in your dipping abilities, having the floor within foot distance is a good thing.
What all of these show is it’s a matter of preference and where you’re at in your progressive overload training.
But going with dip bars that you can easily grip to begin, along with enough room to do the dips, is a great place to start.
Things To Consider When Purchasing Dip Bars
For dip bars that are out there for purchase, not all are created equal. To ensure you get the best bang and most gains for your dollars, there are a few characteristics to consider:
Dip bars can range from the cost-effective to the financially absurd.
Obviously, higher prices correlate to higher quality equipment, but don’t break the bank for a pair of parallel dip bars. You can get an amazing set within the $50-$100 range.
This is quite simply how much weight can your dip bars handle?
Think about your body weight, any extra poundage you’ll be putting on, and the upper potential you could work yourself to.
For safety purposes, getting dip bars that can withstand at least 500 pounds is great for maintaining the durability of your dip bars.
A given, but you want your dip bars to be stable throughout your sets and reps. No wobble is what you’re going for.
Portable dip bars are detached from walls, so they must have a sturdy base to keep you upright and feeling good during your dips.
It’s ideal if your separate bars are connected at the bottom for ultimate stability.
How easy is it to store away is actually an important factor. Sometimes you don’t have the room to keep dip bars out in the middle of an area in your house.
So you want portable dip bars that can either collapse in some way or can detach and be put away smaller than if you were using it.
Finding a balance between rigidity while dipping and storing while not is key.
Width of the Handles
If you decide on parallel bars that are disconnected from each other, you can alter the space between the bars.
If not, you want bars that have adequate handle width. The wider the handles, the more you target your chest; the narrower, the more you target your triceps and shoulders.
So, based on your goals with the dip, choose a width that suits your exercise.
Dip Bar Exercises
What – you thought you could only do dips on dip bars? Not even close!
When you buy dip bars, you’re including a versatile piece to your home gym.
There are countless calisthenics movements you can do with your dip bars other than your run-of-the-mill dips, such as:
- Suspended knee or leg raises (core and abdominals)
- L-sits (core and abdominals)
- Modified push-ups (using one bar; pectorals, anterior deltoids, and triceps)
- Australian pull-ups (below one bar; traps, LATs, biceps)
- Body weight rows (below one bar; traps, LATs, biceps)
- Handstand push-ups (hands holding onto each bar, suspended in air; all shoulder muscles)
With only your dip bar, you can do an entire upper body and abdominal workout and be left sweating and sore. Speak of which…
Dip Bar Workout
Here is our calisthenics workout with only a set of dip bars as your ally:
- Tricep Dips (body perpendicular to ground): 4×12,10,8,6 (30-60 seconds rest)
- Forward-leaning Chest Dips: 4×12,10,8,6 (30-60 seconds rest)
- Tuck Body Weight Rows (body in air); 4×12,10,8,6 (30-60 seconds rest)
- Australian Pull-ups: 3×10-15 (90+ seconds rest)
- Handstand Push-ups: 2×10-15 (120 seconds rest)
- Suspended Leg Raises: 3×10-15 (60 seconds rest)
- L-sits: 2xfailure (60 seconds rest)
A few notes on the workout:
The first three exercises follows a pyramid scheme, going from 12 reps to six throughout the sets. Maintain the same weight (if you’ve added weight) and progress in terms of rest time.
For instance, if you have a 10-pound plate on you and you do your sets of tricep dips with 60 seconds rest in between each, next workout try for 45 seconds of rest.
Continue to lower rest time until 30 seconds.
Once you can do all four sets at that weight with 30-second rest periods, move up in weight (15 or 20 pounds attached).
The next two exercises are tough in and of themselves. Therefore, they have set ranges of reps and finite sets. Also, they have additional rest time so your body can recover from the strain.
Lastly, the two core exercises at the end are meant to metabolically tax your system all the way. This means quick sets, quick rest time, and – in the case of the L-sits – absolute failure.
Give this dip bars workout a try and you’ll be gasping for air and seeing awesome muscle gains. (*So long as you’re progressing in each lift.*)
Top Portable Dip Bars Reviewed
First up on our list of kickass dip bars is a quality dip station from the bros over at Titan Fitness.
This is one steady, solid piece, with the parallel bars connected at the bottom. The entire frame is heavy-duty steel and it has a tough powder-coated finish for long lasting durability.
The foam grips at the top and the floor pads avoids slipping, from both your hands and the ground, making them super sturdy.
It’s easy to assemble, portable, and can break down as well for storage. The width between bars at the top is a solid 20”, while the height from the ground is 39”.
If you’re looking for a straightforward, simple dip bar, you can’t go wrong with the Titan Fitness HD Dip Station.
Best Dip Bars For Home
Lebert Fitness EQualizer
For a mighty pair of dip bars that don’t take up much space, let Lebert Fitness equip you with its EQualizer Total Body Strengthener.
Portable and weighing a whopping eight pounds (this is sarcastic), the EQualizer supports up to 400 pounds, which is an astounding difference.
These come in numerous sizes and colors, but the main version gives you 28.5” in height.
While this doesn’t allow you to perform weighted dips with a dip belt, you can still use a backpack or upgrade to a taller version.
The nice thing about these is that they are separate and sturdy, which allows you to dictate the width and be secure when repping out your exercises.
A solid brand that’s been making dip bars for quite some time, Lebert Fitness brings nothing but high-end equipment to your home gym. Get the EQualizer today.
Yaheetech Dip Stand
Next is a heavy duty dip stand by Yaheetech that acts more like a full-fledged power tower.
This thing has a weight capacity of 500 pounds, oversized knurled grips to reduce slippage, and made out of iron and steel bars.
It has a specifically angled design for any and all users to get into dips. These parallel bars are attached at a base and are 53” above the floor, which will accommodate tall people and weighted versions of exercises.
The width is 30”. Skid-free to avoid floor damage and built to last, this dip stand can easily fit in a corner of your gym.
If you’re serious about your fitness, you must include dips, and you must dip using the Yaheetech dip stand.
TDS Parallel Bars
Last on our list is the thickest, sturdiest dip bars out there, made by TDS.
The parallel bars are long pipe for enhanced grip, while the base construction is 2-inch square tube.
It says it will support “any amount of weight,” so the majority of people who weigh within a normal range and adds a decent amount on their belt shouldn’t worry if it will support you.
You can adjust the height to either 48.5” or 45.5”.
The tension bolts at the base will provide the most secure fit you could ever ask for in a piece of workout equipment.
If sturdiness is your main concern, solve that problem by getting TDS parallel dip bars and use it consistently for your upper body strength and muscle gains.
The dip is the king of all upper body calisthenics. Push-ups are for the weak (not really, though; they still have a place…)
Dips add muscle mass to your upper body, improves lockout strength, uses all of your body weight (and then some), and it’s a superior CKC exercise that works multiple muscles.
Using them is super simple, and if you have the height, width, stability, and storage dialed in, you have a piece of equipment – the dip bar – that can tackle all upper body exercises.
Workout more than just your triceps with a huge variety of dip bar exercises, and give our dip bar workout a try.
Tell us how much it hurts if you want!
Do your research, find a dip bar that suits your needs, and get to dipping! Your physique depends on it.