Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Are Dips Bad For You?

Also Known As: tricep dips



Short answer

Dips are very good for you, so long as you do them correctly. As with any exercise, improper form can have very negative consequences.



Long answer

Dips are a very good exercise that continue an old story: humans versus gravity. The purpose of doing dips is to build upper body strength, especially in the triceps brachii. Other muscles worked during dips are the anterior deltoids, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and levator scapulae. Which muscles are worked more depends on the angle at which the bars are set. Bars that are closer together will work the triceps more while a wider grip will work the chest muscles more. 

Dips all work by the same basic premise - you use your upper body strength to counteract the effect of gravity pulling on your body. As with any exercise, doing dips with improper form can lead to muscle aggravation and even serious injury. The proper way to perform a dip is to grab each bar with the palms facing inwards. With the heels of the palms on top of the bar, push yourself up until your elbows are about to lock (try to keep them from actually locking), keeping your arms slightly angled out. Slowly bring yourself down in a controlled manner until your elbows form a right angle then extend your elbows again to lift yourself back up. If necessary, bend your knees to keep your feet off of the ground. Additionally, the exercise provides the most benefit if you lean forward a bit. 

Doing dips slowly and in a controlled manner is very important in preventing injury. Any pain in the shoulders means there is something wrong and you should stop immediately. Even if you feel just a little stretching in your muscles, it means you have reached your limit and should not go for a deeper stretch. 

Doing dips incorrectly can lead to serious shoulder or elbow injury. If you cannot perform the exercise (i.e. cannot lift your own body weight or have a previous shoulder/elbow injury), you should avoid dips. One other good thing, though, is that dips are highly modifiable and can be done in such a way that you do not lift your full bodyweight - this is especially true with machine dips. All around, dips are a great exercise for building upper body strength and muscle definition.

Possible short-term side effects

  • possible shoulder injury
  • possible elbow injury

Big are dips bad for you 2


  • works several upper body muscles
  • encourages weight loss

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Written by Jeff Volling | 01-09-2016

Written by Jeff Volling
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