How To Do Dips

How To Do Dips

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Dips are a great exercise that works the pecs and also stretches and helps the flexibility of the shoulder. The first thing you need to do, is raise yourself on two dip bars with straight arms. You are going to lower your body until your shoulders are below your elbows. Then push yourself up until your arms are straight again.

Dips work your arm muscles, back, chest and shoulders. The proper Dip form is key to avoid severe shoulder and chest pain. Do not let your shoulders roll forward. Make sure to keep your shoulders back and down. You want to lower yourself until your shoulders are below your elbows, but don’t go lower than that. It’s best to do Dips on fixed parallel bars instead of Ring Dips. You don’t need them to gain strength and muscle. If you want to emphasize your arms and want to add another exercise to your routine, you can add Dips to your workout. Dips are mostly for gaining overall strength and muscle. Here is the guide to the proper form on Dips.

Start with two Dip bars. These bars should be parallel, fixed and stable. Most gyms have a Dip station that is also used for pull ups and hanging knee raises. You don’t want to do Dips on Rings or between benches, both can hurt your shoulders and are not very stable. Use the parallel bars instead.

Here’s how to do Dips with proper form in five simple steps:

  1. Grab the bars and jump up. You want to balance yourself with locked elbows.
  2. Lower your body by bending your arms and leaning your torso slightly forward.
  3. Go down until your shoulders are below your elbows at the bottom.
  4. Rise Up. You will lift your body back up to the starting position by straightening your arms out.
  5. Balance yourself with your shoulders over your hands. Lock your elbows.

If you are not able to do a full dip skip the way up for now and only do the way down until you’re stronger.

Here are some tips on how to do the downward:

  1. Grab the dip bars.
  2. Jump up and straighten your arms.
  3. Lower yourself slowly until your shoulders are below your elbows.
  4. Then put your feet on the floor and jump back on the dip bars with straight arms.

When you are able to do 10 negatives with proper form, you’re ready to do a Dip.

To keep proper, form remember and follow these guidelines and tips:

  • Your hands should be under your shoulders and right outside your hips.
  • Use a full grip and make sure to squeeze the bars.
  • Keep your forearms vertical from all angles both on the way down and on your way up.
  • Lock your elbows at the top. You want to tuck 45° at the bottom.
  • Raise your chest up before lowering yourself. Also, you want to raise your chest between reps when you get to the top.
  • Push your shoulders back and down. You don’t want to shrug or let them roll forward.
  • It is important to keep your head inline with your torso. Don’t look at the ceiling, instead focus on the floor in front of you.
  • You torso must be at a slight incline for balance. Leaning slightly forward while you lower yourself.
  • Don’t over-arch your lower back. Stay neutral. You need a straight line from shoulders to knees.
  • Bend your knees and cross your feet. If you have high bars you can keep your legs.
  • Keep your shoulders down and rise up by straightening out your arms. Don’t look up.
  • Inhale at the top and hold it on the way down and exhale.


-Terry Asher


  1. Vic, I love the idea of using gymnastic rings. I like the setup you show here. I must get a set of those! I am going to try my best. I had nerve damage and radiculopathy on my left side from an auto accident and was not able to do dips for years, but I rested completely, then went slow. Almost ten years after I can do 20 reps with bodyweight.

  2. Vic, thanks for the great tutorials. I am relatively new to lifting so these explanations help a lot. One question I have: is it a good idea to do a couple sets of body weight exercises before using barbells or dumbells?

    • Thats not a bad idea at all. Bodyweight exercises are a great warmup, and they also are good to use when you dont have the barbell movement down yet (ex… bodyweight squats)

      – Vic

  3. I’ve been doing dips for a while, but only tried weighted dips for the first time the other day, I wasn’t sure what weight to use so I started with only 10 pounds.
    Having that little bit of added weight really helped my form and stabilized my position during the exercise. I would recomend adding light weight to you dips, even if you are having trouble with body weight. I managed to get in a 5×5 with a 45 pound plate when all i’m used to doing is body weight . It felt great, can’t wait till next week.

  4. i was wondering how to lose fat on stomach and fat on the sides of my pecs so it can be more cut. i workout 5 times a week and do wieghts on tuesday, thursday,and saturday, and i do cardio wedsday, and friday i eat alot everyday but i eat mostly junk food on Sunday and monday to get capories to use at the gym. what i want to know is how i can get six-pack lose the gyno on my pecs and still get big and strong which is what i want to achive. im 6’1 220 pounds and was 200 around January and am now 220 from eating more food. My friend who is a personal trainer says i should eat alot of carbs but should i lower my carb intake right before i go to sleep? and what about sugar? please help me and get me in the right direction. thanks

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