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Take a Dip for More Upper Body Strength

Dig deep into dipping to improve your bench press and overall strength up top.

David Sandler, MS, CSCS
Take a Dip for More Upper Body Strength

As long as you’re busting your hump to achieve bigger arms and a thicker chest, you may as well add some strength and power. While pull-ups are the ultimate measure of upper-body pulling strength, nailing a few deep dips with a ton of weight attached to you is just as impressive. Rather than repping out with dips at the end of your workout when your triceps and chest are completely exhausted and saturated with lactic acid, try kicking off your next push workout with them. This will not only improve your upper body strength (and size) but will even increase your bench press.

To get started, buy yourself a dip belt or learn how to hold a dumbbell between your legs. Since your workout will begin with dips, warm up with a set of 15–20 push-ups. In this routine, Day 1 focuses on strength, so add weight to make six reps challenging. (To get a few extra reps, you’ll also do drop sets.) Day 2 focuses on muscle power, so on each of your eight reps per set of “speed dips,” perform the eccentric (negative) slow and under control with a pause at the bottom, then explode up as fast as possible on the concentric (positive) portion. To add variety and target all heads of your triceps, you’ll do three sets of a push-up variation at the end of each workout. The other exercises are designed to help improve your overall dip strength and power.

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Perform the two workouts weekly, with 2–3 days in between — Day 1 workout on Monday, Day 2 workout on Thursday, for example. You can do the routines right before you bench-press, combine them with biceps for an arm day or do each on its own. Hit these workouts hard for 4–5 weeks and you should be able to pound out more reps of dips and add some weight to your bench press. 

Get the routine on the next page >>

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