In recent times, pseudo non-degreed physical therapists moonlighting as strength coaches have relentlessly tried to hijack the strength game. Unfortunately, this cabal has tried to eradicate dips from serious muscle-building and strength training regimens

Dips are not for the senior citizen with a shoulder replacement but that doesn’t mean that perfectly healthy, hardcore trainees with serious goals need to avoid what has been touted by traditionalists as “the upper body squat.”

“Lest we forget,” As Rudyard Kipling warned about the dangers of imperial hubris in his famous poem, “Recessional.” And the same caveat can be issued for the arrogant belief and dismissal of proven basic exercises.

Weighted dips have helped develop some of the strongest and most muscular physiques of all time and have a place in a wide spectrum of programs that serve a wide range of goals.

MRI research, performed by Per Tesch in his book, Targeted Bodybuilding, showed dips were the only movement tested that significantly stressed all three heads of the triceps.

Bodybuilding guru Vince Gironda claims that dips are the granddaddy chest exercises when done with a slight forward lean and the elbows flared out. An upright posture will emphasize the triceps to a greater degree.

Weighted dips force the athlete to use his/her upper body and core to stabilize the load, unlike push-ups where the ground assists.

Pat Casey, the first man to bench press 600 pounds, had weighted dips at the core of his program. As a bonus, heavy dips can also help performance on the overhead press. On a personal note, dips helped me win the overhead press with ease at the 2005 Atlantis Strongest Man in America Contest. Virtually every great presser has trained with dips at some point.

Athletes with shoulder or elbow injuries may actually find dips to be a good substitute for bench pressing so omitting them from your program simply for fear of injury is not a great approach. If your joints are an issue, try lighter resistance on a machine or an assisted dip station and work your way up to heavier weight.

The Workout – Chest & Triceps





Weighted Dip *

180 sec



Dumbbell Reverse-Grip Bench Press **

90 sec



Close-Grip Bench Press ***

90 sec



Incline Cable Flye ****

60 sec



One-Armed Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension

60 sec



*Go as heavy as possible each set. After the last set, remove the added resistance as fast as possible and do as many reps possible with your bodyweight; rest 20 seconds and do as many reps as possible again with your bodyweight. Rest 20 seconds and repeat one more time.

**Do not pace — go as heavy as possible each set. More than likely, you will need to lower weight each subsequent set.

***Each set should be to momentary muscular failure because of intensity level and increased repetitions. Lower weight each set.

****Start with a 12-15 rep max weight and go to failure. Rest 60 seconds, repeat the process twice more without reducing weight.


Josh Bryant, MFS, CSCS, PES, is the owner of and co-author (with Adam benShea) of the Amazon No. 1 seller Jailhouse Strong. He is a strength coach at Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas, and holds 12 world records in powerlifting. You can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or visit his website at