6 Undeniable Benefits of Weighted dips
Whats are the Benefits of Adding Weight to Dips?
Weighted dips combine the benefits of calisthenics and weight lifting into one awesome exercise.
These benefits include:
Improve your bench press total
More potential for building a bigger chest and arms then body weight dips
Switch from endurance training to muscle building
Increase upper body maximal strength
Greater range of motion then other pushing exercises
Better for increasing the intensity of each dip and setting goals to keeping track of your progress
Weighted dips for mass and strength: Maintaining a Progressive overload
Body dips are a one of the most effective upper body compound exercises.
However, there is limited scope for progression in terms of maximal strength and adding muscle mass if you are restricted to just using your body weight as resistance.
The optimal rep range for increasing muscle mass is around 8-12 reps and 3-6 reps for strength gains, for each set.
If you are able to comfortably exceed this rep range with body weight dips, it is likely that your muscle growth and maximal strength gains will have plateaued.
Instead, with higher reps, the emphasis will have shifted more to developing endurance strength which in itself is a valuable athletic attribute, but it will not serve your goals of acquiring maximal strength and more muscle.
To carry on gaining strength and adding muscle you need to ensure you are maintaining a progressive overload by increasing the intensity of each rep.
You need to increase the resistance of the exercise to ensure the muscle is put under enough stress to elicit a hypertrophy response, so that the body will add muscle mass.
Adding weight to your dips is the perfect way of doing this.
Say, for example you can do 15 reps of body weight dips and you want to build muscle. Your body weight is not going to put your muscles under enough tension so that your body adapts to the level of resistance by adding more muscle mass.
You need to start by adding around 5 KG (11 lbs). Adding this amount of weight is likely to bring the number of dips you can achieve before failure down to around 10 or 12.
This puts you in the ideal rep range for muscle building and adding mass to your chest, triceps and shoulders.
When 5 (11 lbs) KG becomes comfortable for 12 reps its time to increase the stimulus again, but is important to only increase in increments of 5 KG (lbs) to avoid injury by overloading with weight before you are ready to progress.
If functional strength is your goal then the rep range need to be lower at around 3 to 6 reps per set for 3 to 5 sets and you should only increase the weight when you can comfortably achieve 6 reps with additional weight for every set.
How Weighted Dips Improve your Bench Press
In many ways the bench press is similar to the weighted dip. They both place tension on the chest, triceps and shoulders and they both offer a scalable option for increasing size and strength in the upper body.
Hitting a plateau in bench pressing is very common, even if you follow a quality training regime to the letter.
Plateaus usually come from the target muscle groups acclimatising to a specific exercise.
Your body has learnt the specific movement pattern and the routine can become stale.
For muscle to grow and to increase your strength your body needs to adapt to a new stimulus.
If you are stuck on the same bench press total, it is time to cross train with weighted dips.
Weighted dips are the ideal way to challenge your pushing strength from a different angle to shock the muscle and stimulate growth. They challenge the same muscle groups but the resistance comes from a different angle which accentuates different muscles fibres in the chest, arms and shoulders as well as using the core more for stability.
There is also a deeper range of motion available to dips compared to bench press. With the bench you are restricted to the barbell hitting your chest, whereas the dips are unrestricted and you can dictate the depth of your dips to what feels most comfortable to you.
Personally I tend to stay at 90 degrees with weighted dips, to where my upper arms are parallel to the floor.
For your pushing strength to become well rounded you should challenge yourself with exercises that requires exertion at different angles of the shoulder joint.
Both bench pressing and weighted dips have a lot to offer as exercises in their own right, however emphasising each exercise at different times will offer cross over benefits and the two styles instead of competing with one another actually compliment and improve one another.
Train both exercises and reap the rewards.
Combines the Benefits of Calisthenics with the Scalable Potential of Weights
Dips are often referred to as the upper body squat due to their effectiveness as a means of adding muscle and gaining strength.
Dips are a compound exercise that incorporates the muscle groups of the chest, triceps and shoulders as the primary movers and well as an emphasis on core strength, forearms and grip strength.
For this reason dips are a calisthenics staple exercise.
Weighted dips combine the benefits of calisthenics (functional strength, accessibility of equipment) with the scalable option of free weights.
The benefits of weights over calisthenics has always been that you can numerically track your progress in more ways then just counting reps as well as scale the intensity of every rep.
You can actually measure how much stronger you are getting week by week which is great for goal setting and thereby can give you far more motivation.
It also gives you a more tangible realistic grasp of just how strong you are and gives you feedback so that you can tailor your training to a way that serves your muscle or strength building goals best so you can add, or subtract weight to your dips so that you are in the most appropriate rep range to meet your target.
Why Parallel Bars are Better then Ring Dips for Adding Weight
However if your goal is building muscle mass and gaining strength, I would always suggest that you start with bar dips as opposed to rings dips.
This is because of the ring dips already have a very significant stimulus in the form of instability.
The free movement of the rings means that the body has to control and stabilise itself as well as execute the movement.
If you add weight to this already challenging technique and you are inexperienced with rings dips then you will potentially overload the stabilising muscles and the exercise will be too difficult or possibly result in injury.
Dips on parallel bars or a dip station are more appropriate for weighted dips as they largely remove the instability factor as the equipment is fixed to the ground.
This allows you to target specifically your chest, triceps and shoulders without being hindered by a lack of stability.
Bar dips allow to to really focus on working the target muscles and therefore you will likely see better results.
You can of course develop serious strength with ring dips and even add weight to the exercise but I would only attempt this if you are experienced with ring techniques as this exercise requires strong rotator cuffs and a real sense of proprioceptive coordination.
What is the best way to add weight to dips?
In my opinion the best way to add weight to dips is always with a dipping belt rather then a weighted vest.
I have personally been using this weight belt for years now (from amazon) because it has the strongest chain and carabina for holding the weight plates securely for peace of mind. It is also better at distributing the weight more evenly over the hips then most belts for a more comfortable fit, which is important if you are using heavy weights and doing lots of reps.
Whilst both equipment will work I personally find weighted vests can be uncomfortable if used with a significant amount of weight and they are not easy to put on or take off between sets as the vest feels like a dead weight, similar to lifting a sandbag, which can be awkward if you are trying to lift it up and put it over your head.
The dipping belt is a far cheaper and more convenient option. The cost around a third of the price and the method for adding weight is much more simple the with the vest.
They are also very easy to put on and take off and sit very comfortable around the hips. They have the advantage of not being limited to a specific weight, like the weight vest usually is often around 30 KG, (66 lbs) at maximum capacity.
If you are making progress with your weighted dips it is very possible that you will out grow the weight vests' limit too.
All a dipping belt requires is weight plates which are easy to get hold of for home use and of course readily available at the gym.
Weighted dips are one of the most effective compound excerises an undeniably effective way to take your calisthenics training to the next level.
The most appealing benefit for most, is the way you can effective scale the intensity of your dips so that you can keep on attaining muscle mass for your chest shoulders and triceps.
The functional strength aspect of weight dips not only gives you an alternative to the bench press but also a way of breaking through bench pressing plateaus.
All other angles of pushing such as the overhead press (vertical plane) the bench press (horizontal plane) are accounted when it comes to weighted resistance. The weighted dip ensures well rounded strength at all angles of the shoulder joint to avoid strength imbalance.
Add weighted resistance to you dips and take your strength and muscle mass to a new level.
If there are any other benefits of weighted dips that you think I've missed please leave a comment below! ⇩⇩⇩