Weighted Dips For Chest & Triceps

Dips are an excellent exercise for building your chest and triceps. As you progress, you’ll quickly be able to do a high number of reps with your body weight. But at that point, you only build muscle endurance.

On the other hand, weighted dips increase the challenge for your muscles. And this helps you unlock new gains in muscle strength and size.

In this article, I show you how to use a weighted dip belt. As well as how to do weighted dips specifically for your chest or triceps.

Weighted Dips

What Are Weighted Dips?

Dips are an upper-body exercise where you lift your body up and down between two parallel bars. For weighted dips, you perform the dip movement pattern with added resistance.

Usually, the resistance is a weight suspended between your legs using a specialized belt. But there are other ways to do weighted dips as I’ll describe in the sections below.

Benefits Of Weighted Dips

One of the main reasons for doing weighted dips is that bodyweight dips get too easy. For example, if you can do 10 or more bodyweight dips, it’s probably time to add some weight.

Doing heavier weight for lower reps is a surefire way to increase strength. Moreover, as your strength goes up and you can do more weight, your muscle size increases as well.

In addition, weighted dips allow you to gradually increase the resistance over time. This is a technique called progressive overload that is critical to resistance training success.

Weighted Dips Muscles Worked

Since you’re pushing at a downward angle, dips primarily work your lower chest. Also known as the sternal head of the pectoral muscles.

And extending your arms during a pressing movement engages the triceps. In the following sections, I’ll explain how to perform the exercise to target more chest or triceps.

Weighted Dips Muscles Worked

Weighted Dips vs Bench Press

Both the bench press and dips work your chest and triceps. Although bench press works more of the mid-chest compared to dips due to the fact that you push straight away from your body. Whereas dips are more similar to a decline bench press.

Weighted Dip Belt

To perform weighted dips, it helps to have a specialized belt designed to hold weight plates or dumbbells. A weighted dip belt consists of a padded back section with a chain that connects the weight to the belt.

In the pictures and video demonstrations, I’m using a weighted dip belt from Hawk Fitness. I’ve been using this belt for a few years and it gets the job done. Plus it’s only $15.99 compared to $30 or more for similar dip belts.

How To Use A Belt For Weighted Dips

Using a weighted dip belt is pretty straightforward once you’ve seen it done. Here are the steps to secure the belt and weight before performing the exercise.

  1. Wrap the belt around your waist
  2. Pull the loose end of the chain through the open metal loop
  3. Now put the loose end of the chain through the weight plate (or wrap around a dumbbell)
  4. Secure the clip to the first metal loop
  5. Center the weight on the chain so it balances
  6. Begin the weighted dip exercise

Below are some pictures illustrating these steps. Click the arrows to scroll through the pictures.

When using lighter weights, you can perform these steps while standing. But as the weight gets heavier, it’s easier to kneel down and have the weight on the floor.

Also, if your shirt gets caught between the metal loops and the chain you’ll tear little holes in the fabric. So make sure your shirt is free before you begin!

How To Do Weighted Dips

Now that you know how to use a belt for weighted dips, I’ll show you how to do the exercise.

  1. Attach the weight to the dip belt as outlined above
  2. Boost yourself up to the starting position
  3. Lower your body down until your arms are bent about 90 degrees
  4. Push your body back up to the starting position by squeezing your chest and extending your arms
  5. Perform the designated number of reps
  6. Gently lower yourself down to your feet

In the video below, I show you how to use the dip belt as well as how to perform the exercise correctly.

Weighted Dip Tips

  • Squeeze the weight between your knees to keep it from swinging
  • Put the chain through the center of the plate, not the outside holes (if it has them). This keeps the weight more stable and prevents it from hitting the ground.
  • Adjust the height of the dip bars or use a step to make it easy to get on and off the apparatus

When trying to target specific muscle groups, it’s important to take certain steps to alter your hand and body position. Below are some additional tips for targeting your chest vs triceps.

Weighted Chest Dips

The key to targeting your chest during weighted dips is leaning forward. To do this, bend your knees and push your legs back while leaning your head forward.

In addition, a wider grip will help you use more pectorals during the movement. On dip stations with angeled handles, move your hands towards the ends. If using parallel bars, flare your elbows out.

Weighted Tricep Dips

To target more triceps during weighted dips, keep your body as upright as possible. You can do this by keeping your feet below you and your head up.

Also, using a close grip helps you put more load on the triceps. That means you should move your hands forward on the dip bars and try to keep your elbows tight to your body.

Weighted Dips Alternative

One downside to this exercise is that it requires a dip station and a dip belt. But you might not have access to these in your fitness center or home gym.

So I’m going to show you some weighted dip alternatives you can do without the station, without the belt, or both.

Weighted Bench Dip

A bench dip is an exercise where you perform the dip movement on the edge of a weight bench instead of a dip station. To do a weighted bench dip, you simply put a weight plate or dumbbell in your lap.

The upside is that you don’t need any specialized equipment. But the downside is that this is mostly a tricep exercise due to the upright body position. So it’s not great for building your chest.

Slow Negative Dips

If you have a dip station but no dip belt, you could try slow negative dips. With this variation, you’re still using your body weight. But you perform the lowering (negative) portion of the movement very slowly.

By increasing the time your muscles are under tension, you make the exercise much more challenging. And you will reduce the number of reps you can perform, similar to the weighted dip.

For this variation, try to use a tempo of about 5 seconds on the negative and 1-2 seconds on the positive.

Decline Bench Press

Another alternative that doesn’t require a dip station or belt is the decline bench press. This is a barbell, dumbbell, or Smith machine bench press performed on a decline bench.

The angle of the bench means you push the weight down and away relative to your body. As opposed to straight away in a typical bench press. This means you target your lower chest similar to the dip movement.

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Assisted Dips

Finally, if you’re new to the dip exercise you might not be able to perform many reps with your body weight. In this case, you could perform assisted dips until you build enough strength to try weighted dips.

To do assisted dips you can either use a special machine with a counterweight platform that you kneel on. Or place a resistance band under your knees on the standard dip station.

Hypertrophy Training Program

Weighted dips are great for increasing upper body strength. But if you want to build muscle size along with strength, you need a resistance training plan designed for muscle gain.

In order to maximize muscle growth (aka hypertrophy), you should adjust 10 specific training variables. Check out my free hypertrophy training program to see how to optimize your workouts.

With this information, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your fitness goals. And if you found this exercise tutorial helpful, click on the articles below for more workout tips!

How to Build Chest Muscle

A big chest doesn’t have to be the stuff of mythology and fantasy.  Unless you’ve been dealt a very unlucky hand genetically, you can build a big chest too!  Chances are you simply haven’t structured your training for maximum growth.  In this article you will learn how to build chest muscle with a killer chest workout designed for optimal growth.

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