Arm Exercises

Master This Move: Dips - The Upper Body Cure

Take your chest and triceps muscles from mundane to masterpiece with parallel-bar dips.

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Master This Move: Dips - The Upper Body Cure

Next time you’re in the gym—tonight, tomorrow, or right now—climb on a set of parallel bars and start becoming, a “dippin’ machine.” Dips are hard. You won’t want to do them at first, but there’s no more effective assistance move for your chest and triceps. “Dips suck,” says Jesse Burdick, an elite powerlifter and trainer at the Re-Active Gym in Pleasanton, Calif. “But you have to do them. Adding dips to your workouts is the fastest way to build mass in your upper body and to push your bench numbers through the roof.”

There are certain exercises— squats, for example— that can raise your strength and size levels across the board, and that’s precisely what happens when you focus on dips. Work your way up from churning out more body-weight reps each time to eventually adding weight, and you’ll reap the rewards of a bigger bench press and better definition throughout your entire upper body.

The type of dip bars you have isn’t all that important. If you have access to an angled pair, more power to you, but it’s not necessary to use anything more complicated than a basic set of parallel bars. If your gym doesn’t have a belt for attaching plates, invest in one. Once you develop the capacity for higher-rep sets, you’ll need to start adding weight.

AMRAP Dip Workout

To get started, simply perform three sets of as many reps as you can without training to failure. Do this twice per week—on your chest or triceps days if you follow a body-part split, or on your bench days if you train on an upper/lower schedule. For each workout, try to exceed the number of reps you performed the week before, adding extra sets if necessary.

Once you’re capable of cranking out 70 or more reps in three or four sets, hang a 25-pound plate on your dip belt, reduce your rep count, and start the process over again.

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