When we think of pushing exercises we often turn to the push up or the bench press.  But dips and even overhead presses are also great PUSH exercises.

However, unlike the bench press or push up, which are HORIZONTAL push exercises, they are VERTICAL PUSH EXERCISES.

When you want to work your chest, triceps and shoulders from a different angle and strength your push up, add in dips to your workout routine!

Dip Form:

full dip

To do a dip off of dip bars or parallel bars, place one hand on each bar and grip the bar tightly.

Press up to the top so that your arms are fully extended. Your body should be in a nice straight line down to the ground. You can bend your knees slightly and cross your ankles if you would like.

Tighten your core and press your chest out. You do not want to cave forward as you lower.

Then slowly bend your elbows and lower your body down toward the ground. You want to lower yourself down until your upper arms are parallel (or even a little past parallel) to the ground.

Then drive back up through your hands until you are fully extended at the top. Keep your core tight and squeeze your glutes as you press up so you don’t arch your low back. Do not lean too far forward as you press up.

Once you’ve locked your arms out at the top of the dip, lower back down and repeat.


Beginners may need to do assisted dips. They can do these on a machine or they can use their foot to assist them.

assisted dips

If you use your feet, the dip bars will need to be close enough to the ground for you to stand and push to the top of a dip or you will need to place a box under the dip bars. It must be high enough that you can touch your feet down even at the top of the dip. You will then perform a full dip; however, because your feet are touching the box or floor, you can use your legs to help you control the move and take pressure off of your arms. Your goal is to use your arms as much as possible. Your legs are simply there to assist you as much as you need not to do the brunt of the work.

You can also do assisted dips by doing jumping dips. The best way to do these and get great results is by jumping to the top of the dip and then lowering yourself down as slowly as possible (so basically a eccentric dip).

Off bench dips is another way to regress the dip. To do off bench (or box, table, or couch) dips, place your hands back behind you on the bench. Your finger tips should hang over the bench and face you. Stretch your legs out in front of you. The straighter your legs are and the further your heels are from your butt, the harder the move will be (shown below is a beginner, bent knee variation, and a more advanced straight leg variation). Bend your elbows and drop your butt toward the ground. Drop so your upper arms are parallel to the ground then press back up. Keep your butt and back right up agains the bench. Do not let your body drift forward.

beginner bench dips

straight leg bench dips

To advance the full dip, you can add weight around your waist with a belt or you can slow down the tempo of the move. Maybe you take a 3 count to press up or a 5 count to lower down. Maybe you add in a hold at the top or even slow down every piece of the dip. The key is to change up the tempo so the muscles spend a bit more time under tension.