Chest Dips Alternatives
Thousands of people worldwide aspire to sculpt their body ad shed excess weight. In order to achieve the desired look, regular gym training is most preferred. While workout programs which aim at developing muscle groups are proven to be more effective than targeted exercises (5), it is essential to isolate exercises targeting your back, to build the armored look you’re striving for. One of the most well-known (and pretty challenging) workouts for your back are the weighted chest dips. What could you do if the gym’s dip machine, where you can perform your dips, isn’t available for some reason or if you’re a beginner who’s wary of such a straining exercise? Follow this article for the ups and downs of chest dips, how to perform chest dips correctly, and which effective chest dips alternatives are good options for you to create a chiseled back.
What are chest dips and their benefits?
Weighted chest dips are a powerful way to develop upper body strength. By strapping on a weight to your waist and then positioning yourself in raised parallel bars, you can give your chest muscles a great workout by lifting and lowering yourself over a selected number of sets and reps. Chest dips are one of the best ways to boost your upper-body strength by developing a greater mass in your chest and arms, and in addition they can be done only with the weight of your body, relieving you from a necessity of dumbbells or barbells. Chest dips can be quite difficult for beginners, but the benefits are well worth it.
First of all, the pectoralis major and minor and the triceps are activated like no other exercise, allowing you to simultaneously work on a wide range of your chest musculature. As you perform the dips, you hit the outer area of your pectoral muscles much easier than you would with the bench press or even push–ups. When you do the dips, less of the deltoid (shoulder) muscle is activated, and so your pecs are forced to work harder to raise you back up. When you perform dips you also engage your core, ie your abs, glutes, and back—so that you are forming a lean pose as you raise and lower yourself back to the starting position.
It should be clear that chest dips are quite beneficial for your health. There are, however, some reasons for shying away from this regimen in your workout routine.
Downsides of chest dips
Dips are only good for your shoulders if performed in an excessive forward lean. When you lower yourself down while performing dips, under full bodyweight, you put huge amounts of strain on your shoulder capsule. Your arms are not built to swivel backwards to that extreme. You can check this for yourself. Stand tall and see how far back you can swivel your arms. If you’ve wondered why your shoulders are sore after chest dips, it’s because you had stretched the ligaments and soft tissue of the shoulder joint. Thus, chest dips might cause security issues in your shoulders and increase the risk of dislocation. Despite this danger, chest dips have immense benefits and remain one of the most popular exercises out there. Read on for the correct instruction on how to perform chest dips safely and effectively.
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How does one do chest dips properly?
- Stand within the parallel bars and raise yourself all the way up with your arms straight. Now actively push down (raises your body slightly) and continue to do so while performing the exercise. This will activate your lats and is important for keeping your shoulders safe.
- To start the dip, inhale and puff out your chest. To activate the right muscles, imagine you are trying to pull yourself down, but some invisible force is actively resisting you. Descend slowly until reaching the low point, then without pausing at the bottom, push simultaneously with your arms and shoulders as you return to the starting position.
- Your forearms should be in line, both from the front and from the side. Make sure to use bars that are approximately shoulder-width apart.
- Always keep your head in neutral position. Don’t raise your chin up when the reps get harder or you could end up with neck pain.
- The shoulders should be pressed down at the top. As you go descend they will naturally rise up and back a little.
- It is immensely important to not allow your shoulders to roll forward, and avoid shrugging them. You must keep your shoulders back and down. Lower yourself until your shoulders are just below your elbows, don’t go further.
- At the beginning you may not be strong enough to perform the dips, so opt for negative dips instead. Negative dips are excellent to gain the feeling of the exercise. They are called negative because you do only the downward movement. In order to perform this exercise, simply perform the descending part, then use your legs on the floor to help you to get back to the starting position.
If you want to consider some other exercises that focus on developing your chest, choose from the following list of chest dips alternatives.
Chest Dips Alternatives
1. Decline Bench Press (3)
If you want a substitute that offers the support of a weight bench, opt for decline bench presses. These movements, which can be done by using either a barbell or set of dumbbells, allow you to isolate the chest muscles in a more effective way than the ultra-popular flat bench press. They also will reduce the strain on your shoulders, which can cause problems in the chest dips.
Here’s how you should correctly perform decline bench press with a barbell:
Secure your legs at the end of the decline bench and slowly lay down on the bench. Use a medium-width grip, one that creates a 90-degree angle in the middle of the movement between the forearms and the upper arms. Now lift the bar from the rack and hold it directly above you with your arms locked. Your arms should be perpendicular to the floor. This is your start position. In order to protect your rotator cuff, it is best to have a spotter help you lift the
barbell off the rack. Breathe in as you slowly lower the bar until you feel the bar on your lower chest.
After a brief pause, raise the bar back to the start position. Do this while breathing out and pushing the bar using your chest muscles. Once at the start position, lock your arms and squeeze your chest in a contracted position, hold for a second and then return the weight to your chest slowly and smoothly. It should take at least twice as long to go down than to come up. Repeat the movement for the amount of repetitions you have planned for.
2. Pec Flys (2)
Another alternative to weighted chest dips is the pec fly. This exercise isolates the chest muscles more than most other exercises. Similarly to the bench presses, pec flys offer the support of a weight bench and reduce the strain from
self-suspension associated with dips. You may also do them on incline benches or stability balls to add variety to the movement. Incline pec flys shift more of the burden to your shoulders and reduce the pressure on your lower back while stability ball flys work your core in addition to your chest and arms.
Here’s how to perform a pec fly:
If it’s your first time, you will have to adjust the equipment. Almost all machines have a seat pad that lifts or lowers. Move the seat pad height so that the handles are at chest height and when you sit down you can place your feet comfortably on the floor. The back pad should be supporting your spine. When you extend your arms out to the side to grab the handles, your elbows and wrists should be at the same level as your shoulders, not higher or lower.
Make sure your arms are in line with the front of your chest, not behind your body. You may also need to adjust the arm levers in case you have shorter or longer arms. With your arms extended, check that your elbows are slightly bent. Next, choose a weight setting. When you first begin using a machine, start with a weight that feels quite easy until you get comfortable with the movement. The complete movement is often described as opening and closing your arms, similar to a butterfly as it flies.
Sit up tall. Relax your neck and shoulders. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Grab the handles so that your palms are facing forward. Please note that some machines have a foot bar that you need to push in order to bring the handles forward.
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Press your arms together in front of your chest with a slow, controlled movement. Keep a slight, soft bend in the elbows with wrists relaxed.
Pause for one second once your arms are at the “closed” position in front of your chest. Bring your arms slowly back to the starting position, opening your chest and keeping posture strong and upright.
Perform two sets of seven to 10 repetitions to start. It is important not to hold your breath when you perform this exercise, and avoid using legs. Remember, your focus is on sculpting your chest.
3. Push-up (9)
Yes, this basic exercise can actually bring about for your future armoured chest.
Push-ups can be as challenging as you want them to be and they are practical for those who lack access to a gym. You can do traditional push-ups or change your hand position to increase the difficulty. While doing pushups it is essential not to cheat in at any time, in order to get the most from this exercise.
Maintain the perfect plank:
The push up starts with a flawless plank position and you must own this for the life of every rep. Squeeze your abs tight and never allow your core sag.
Your elbows should face forward:
Rotate the crooks of your elbows forward, promoting shoulder external rotation and also the turning on your lats.
Full way up and way down:
Lower your chest to within an inch of the ground, squeezing your shoulder blades as you approach the ground. Now, press all the way up. Avoid making half-reps, skipping the final bit of chest contraction as a habit, as it will deteriorate to uselessness.
To sum up, while chest dips are in general an effective and useful exercise to sculpt your chest, they might lead to negative consequences, particularly for your shoulders. Practice chest dips alternatives such as the decline bench press, pec flyes, and – yes – pushups, to build up your perfect chest harmlessly. Remember to drink plenty of water in times of high physical activity as it has a ton of positive health benefits (1,8), and consume high-protein foods, but avoid red meat (4, 6). Incorporating high-fiber foods in your diet will also aid your plans of body transformation (7). Some of the dietary plans compatible with regular training are Mediterranean and Keto Diet.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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- Dehydration (1997, medlineplus.gov)
- How to Use a Chest Fly Machine (2020, verywellfit.com)
- One Move For A Big Chest: Decline Barbell Bench Press (n.d., bodybuilding.com)
- Optimizing Protein Intake in Adults: Interpretation and Application of the Recommended Dietary Allowance Compared with the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Subcutaneous fat alterations resulting from an upper-body resistance training program. (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Substituting healthy plant proteins for red meat lowers risk for heart disease (2019, hsph.harvard.edu)
- The impact of soluble dietary fibre on gastric emptying, postprandial blood glucose and insulin in patients with type 2 diabetes. (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The influence of increased fluid intake in the prevention of urinary stone formation: a systematic review (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- This All-Pushups Workout Builds Your Chest More Than Bench-Pressing (2020, menshealth.com)