Weighted dips are a great exercise for training your chest, triceps, shoulders and core muscles. When performed correctly, they can add pounds of muscle to your upper body and also improve your strength for other exercises such as bench presses and military presses. To make sure you get maximum benefit from your weighted dips, your technique must be perfect, and you must program them correctly in your training routine.
Former champion bodybuilder, Vince Gironda, was a huge fan of dips for building muscle -- so much so that in his gym, he replaced all the bench presses with dipping stations. While weighted dips always hit your chest, triceps and shoulder muscles to some degree, the way you perform them can change which muscle group is emphasized most. Using a narrow grip with an upright torso keeps most of the focus on your triceps, while a wider grip with your weight shifted forward targets your chest more.
Aim to start and finish each repetition with your elbows locked out. Your descent should take around two to three seconds, as the eccentric or downward phase of an exercise is where most muscle breakdown occurs. Maximize this breakdown with a slow descent. Make sure your biceps are slightly below parallel to the floor in the bottom position, then explode back up.
You can use different dipping bars to add some variety into your training. Try switching between straight and V-shaped bars or use thick bars, which will challenge your grip and forearm muscles more. Change the way you add weight. While most people will choose to add weight on a dipping belt around their waist, there's no reason why you can't use a weighted vest or hold a dumbbell between your feet. Changing the angle of your elbows is another way to give yourself a new dipping challenge.
Before attempting weighted dips, you need to master bodyweight dips. Once you can do 15 repetitions with your bodyweight, you can try adding weight. Strength coach JP Carlson recommends setting an initial goal of working up to 50 percent of your bodyweight added for five reps. When you've accomplished that, move on to 100 percent of your bodyweight added for five reps. Do one session of heavy-weighted dips in the three- to five-rep range every week, and do one lighter session of 10 to 12 reps.