Second only to push-ups, dips are one of the best upper body pushing exercises you can do. They work your pecs, triceps, and deltoids, and because you have to support your entire body weight on your arms, they provide a greater challenge than push-ups.
The obvious downside to dips is that you can’t just drop to the deck and start pumping them out. You need some equipment, i.e., parallel bars. Most gyms have parallel bars, but how can you do dips at home?
Here are a few ways to do dips without going to the gym plus a few alternative exercises that are similarly beneficial.
#1 Try some portable parallel bars
Parallel bars like these are light, portable, and allow you to do dips almost anywhere, although you’ll have to start from your knees. They can also be used for push-ups and a range of other exercises. Mini dip bars a great alternative to power towers, especially if you don’t have a lot of free space.
#2 Use a suspension trainer (TRX)
Suspension trainers, such as TRX, add a new dimension to bodyweight training. They introduce an element of instability that makes every exercise, from push-ups to rows to Bulgarian split squats, much more demanding. You can also use a suspension trainer for dips. However, you must make sure your anchor point is strong enough and will comfortably support your body weight plus the force you generate doing dips.
#3 Chair dips
No bars? No problem! You can still do dips. All you need is two identical high-backed chairs. The chairs need to be sturdy, and you may need to weigh them down to ensure they don’t fall inward as you exercise. No chairs with backs available? Place your hands on the seats and start your reps from your knees.
#4 Bench dips
While you can do this exercise on a chair, we will call it bench dips just to differentiate from the previous one. Bench dips are undeniably appealing and useful, but they can be hard on your shoulders, especially if you let your hips drift too far forward. Avoid unnecessary shoulder strain by keeping your torso as upright and close to your bench as possible. Make this exercise harder by raising your feet on another chair/ bench.
#5 Floor dips
On the off chance, you find yourself in a room so bare that it doesn’t even contain a chair, you can do dips on the floor using nothing more than your bodyweight. The range of movement is quite small, but at least this exercise provides an alternative to push-ups. It’s very triceps-centric, and you probably won’t feel it in your chest as much as regular dips.
Perform similarly to bench dips, except you will be on the floor, knees bent, hips lifted. Just be sure to keep your hands in line with your shoulders
DIP VARIATIONS#1 Band dips (beginners)
The main drawback of dips is that, to do them you need to be strong enough to lift your bodyweight using just your arms. If you are new to working out or a bit on the heavy side, this may be too demanding for you right now. This doesn’t mean you can’t work your upper body with dips. In fact, all you need is a couple of resistance bands.
Attach the bands to an overhead beam, stand between them, and then place your hands in the loops.
Push your arms downward as though you were doing real parallel dips, while your feet are still grounded. Progress from this exercise to one of the partially supported options and then onto full dips when you are ready.
Note: This is also a great option if you have issues with your shoulder joints.
#2 Handstand push-ups (advanced)
Most exercisers do dips because they provide a way to go beyond the demands of regular push-ups. Dips are also an excellent way to add variety to your workouts. If dips are impossible, you can ramp up your push-ups another way by doing them against a wall and in the handstand position. You won’t get the same chest workout as you get from dips, but you’ll definitely challenge your shoulders and triceps.
Whether you are on COVID-19 lockdown, or just prefer to train at home, there is no reason you can’t include dips in your upper body workouts. Push-ups are arguably the most popular bodyweight pushing exercise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t broaden your horizons with a few sets of dips. If nothing else, because they are harder, you should find that your push-up performance increases by default if you include dips in your workouts.
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