How to do Dips

How to do Dips | Modern Calisthenics

Dips are one of the 5 basic exercises – along with push ups, sit ups, pull ups, and squats – you need to master in order to progress in calisthenics. How to do dips:

To do a dip you need parallel bars, dip bars, or a bench. Gipping the bars, or the edge of the bench, you lower your body towards the ground and then raise it up using your triceps, deltoids, pecs, and rhomboid muscles. Dips are great for developing strong arms, shoulders, and chest.

Dips should be at the core of your workout routines. Most trainers suggest doing them everyday, even if you only have time and motivation for one set.

The rule is: the basics are the basics and you can’t beat the basics.

Charles Poliquin – Strength training legend.

How to do a Dip Correctly

With Charles’ wise words fresh in our minds, let’s talk about how to do dips…

To do a full dip you will need parallel bars or dip bars. Full dips can be challenging for beginners. If you are struggling start with bench dips.

Bench Dips

To perform a bench dip you will need to find an elevated surface that comes to about knee height, such as a park bench or a chair. Make sure the surface is stable otherwise you could injure yourself. Don’t use a chair with wheels that might roll away halfway through the exercise.

Bench Dip Starting Position

Once you have found a suitably elevated surface, seat yourself at the edge and place your hands by your sides.

Take hold of the surface area and proceed to lift your body away form the surface, all the while maintaining a firm grip with your hands.

Lower you body down keeping your legs out straight in front of you.

Once you are in this position you are ready to start.

Doing a Bench Dip

Keeping your legs and back straight, lower yourself down until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle.

Make sure that your feet don’t move during the movement, and be sure not to go lower than the 90 degree mark.

Engage your tricep muscle to lift yourself up and back into the starting position.

Congratulations you’ve completed a dip!

How to do a Full Dip

To do a full dip using parallel bars, the movement is much the same, only now your body will hang in the air while you bend and the eblows lifting yourself up and down.

If you find this too challenging you can build towards a full dip using progressions.

Dip Progressions

First Dip Progression: Bar Hold – Simply hold yourself in a static position on the bars, as if you were about to start doing dips.

Second Dip Progression: Negatives – From the starting position lower your body down and then place your feet on the ground. You are doing half the exercise.

Third Dip Progression: Resistance Bands – Use a resistance band to support yourself on the dip bars. This will reduce the weight you have to dip and make doing a full dip easier. Once you can do 10 or 20 resistance band assisted dips, try a full dip.

Dip Variations:

There are a few variations of the dip. These include dips with elevated legs, side-to-side dips, ring dips, the challenging Korean dip, and the near impossible one-handed dip.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Dips | Modern Calisthenics

Follow the advice of Charles Poliquin, start with the basic bench dip or chair dip and then move on to the full dip. Once you’ve mastered these you can think about moving on to some of the other dip variations.

To learn more about the fundamental exercises needed for calisthenics watch Lucy Lismore explain how to start calisthenics.


Personal Trainer, Calisthenics Practitioner, & Owner of

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