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.
In a hurry? Here are our top picks:
Sportsroyals dip station
|View on Amazon
Lebert Fitness Dip Bar Stand
|View on Amazon
BalanceFrom Multi Function Dip Stand
|View on Amazon
Amazon Basics Dip Fitness Bar
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Rogue Infinity Matador
|View on Rogue Fitness
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.
From a stability standpoint, it’s ideal if your separate bars are connected at the bottom, however the tradeoff for this stability is versatility in the bodyweight exercises you can do. With separate parallel bars you can do way more than just tricep dip.
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.
Top Accessory: Dip belt for weighted dips
The Rogue Fitness dip belt is one of the best belts out there, and heavily used by CrossFitters worldwide. It is the perfect design blend of a nylonstrap and a metal chain to achieve the highest strength possible. It is simple in its design and is impossible to break (at least by a human using it as a dip belt).
The Nylon material and design is simple and elegant because it is functional and comfortable at the same time. The belt is made to be one size fits all. The 4″ back provides support and spreads out the pressure of the weight over a larger surface area.
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.
Triceps dip is not the only bodyweight exercise you can do on this equipment. There are countless calisthenics movements you can do with your dip bars other than your run-of-the-mill dips, such as (follow the link to see videos if you are unsure of how to do these):
- Suspended knee or leg raise (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)
Overall #1 Pick
Sportsroyals Dip Station
- Separate bases, and adjustable height
- 6 different grip locations
- Pinion to keep foot stable on different surfaces
- Max capacity up to 400 lbs. Versatile
- Great value for price
The Sportsroyals dip bar is our favorite because it simply gets everything right and for the right price. It is adjustable, has comfortable padded grips (6 of them for different exercises), bases are not connected, oval shaped steel pipe for better grip, and has a max capacity of 400lbs which pretty much covers most people interested in doing dip exercises.
The adjustable height is an interesting feature since why would you need it if you are the only person using it right? Probably right, but my philosophy and experience is that good quality fitness equipment should and does pretty much a lifetime. When was the last time you had to replace your Power Tower station? The same applies to dip bars.
So having variable heights actually ensures that wherever you take it, you can share it with people of different heights, say like your future wife.
One additional benefit is that the adjustable heights is very handy for stretches. If you are using the bar for a glute or hamstring stretch from a standing position, you can start with the lowest height and work your way up as you become more flexible.
Lastly the adjustable heights plays well for doing weighted dips with a dip belt.
The bars also are separated at the base, which is my preference since it allows for various exercises like inverted rows, or front lever pulls. This type of exercise versatility cannot be achieved with fixed width dip bars. The separate bases also makes for less space when storing them away.
This fitness equipment comes from a good brand that makes several other equipment, which means that on Amazon, a place where several equipment manufacturers disappear after trying to sell cheap equipment, and not surviving; Sportsroyals, however, will be around for as long as the equipment is working for you, and if it is not, their customer service will be there to work with you.
At last check this set was under $90, putting this in the expected range of $60 to $100 for this type of equipment.
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.
You have to pick out the size you want, since these are not adjustable. However, that should not be an issue if this is for a home gym and you are the only user.
This dipping bar set comes in numerous sizes and colors, but the main version gives you 28.5″ in height, which is meant for people 5’10” and under.
While this doesn’t allow you to perform weighted dips with a dip belt, you can still use a backpack or weighted vest 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.
Next is a heavy duty dip stand by BalanceFrom that acts more like a full-fledged power tower’s dip station.
This portable dip station has a weight capacity of 500 pounds, foam padded grip handles to increase friction and reduce slippage, and minimize hand fatigue. The structure is made from heavy duty steel.
These parallel bars are attached at a base and at the lowest setting are 40″ above the floor, but can be adjusted with preset notches to up to 51.18″, which will accommodate tall people and weighted versions of exercises.
One complaint some people have had is that the parallel bars are a little too wide for them, which ends up working the chest muscles more with such a workout. At approx 26″ inbetween the bars, that may be too wide for some. You want the parallel bars to be touching your shoulders when you are in between them, if you are on your knees.
Skid-free to avoid floor damage and built to last, this dip stand can easily fit in a corner of your gym.
This equipment looks stylish, and comes in three colors – Red, Yellow, and Gray.
I guess Dip bars are so popular that Amazon decided to get in on the action of selling these themselves.
This is a one piece portable dip bar that weighs about 22 lbs, and is rated for up to 660 lbs. This weight capacity is surprising considering the other ones on our research list stopped short of that weight.
For those looking for a simple dip stand that is portable, solid, and is a good price, this bar has it all. The foam grip footer allow you to use this in your garage as well as on the carpet in your home.
One drawback of this dip stand is that the base is attached, so you cannot separate the bar widths to do different exercises. However, if simplicity and ease of doing triceps dips is what you are looking for, then this dip stand makes total sense and is the most affordable on this list.
This dip station is meant only as an attachment for Rogue S2, S3 Squat rack, R-3, R-4, R-6 Racks, and Infinity Rigs and Wallmount systems. If you are an owner of any of these, then this is a great addition. If you are not, you ought to look into power racks to see if they make sense for your home gym.
This piece of equipment is made from heavy duty 7 Gauge Steel, as you would expect from Rogue Fitness. The angled grips bars width is 1.875″, for a comfortable full hand grip, as well as variability in width to work different muscles.
The nice benefit of an attachment like this is that it take such little space when stowed away. It still does the job superbly when connected to the power rack. It is simply a solid addition to any squat or power rack.
There is a wall mount hanger that comes separate, but is worth it to keep your garage gym tidy and you can really show off your fitness equipment well this way.
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.