In Exercises

January 14, 2011

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Want to build serious upper-body strength? Bill Starr says you should be dipping—regularly.

It wasn’t until my third year of training that I came across dip bars, in the weight room at the Wichita Falls, Texas, YMCA. From that day on, dips have been a part of all of my programs for Olympic lifting, powerlifting and strength training in general, and they’re even my current routine in which I do really high reps.

At first, I only dipped with body weight, but once I was able to do 40 reps, I decided I needed to add resistance. Because a dip belt wasn’t available, I used dumbbells. I could lock a dumbbell between my legs, as I had seen models do in the magazines, and knock out my reps. I discovered using a weight made the movement easier to do in that the resistance helped steady me while I dipped.

I encourage all my strength athletes to dip. It’s a great way to strengthen the shoulder girdle, and the strength gained is very convertible to every sport under the sun because every sport demands powerful shoulders and arms. In addition, when dips are added to a routine, the shoulder girdle becomes more stable right away.

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8 Comments on “Dips: The Forgotten Shoulder Exercise”


wrote …

For the beginner, when doing 4 sets of as many as you can, how much time should we allow between sets? Should we use the standard 3 minutes that we use during ME WODS?
Thanks in advance,


wrote …

Thx Mr. Starr!


wrote …

Great stuff!!


wrote …

Bill, I'll chime in because I don't think Bill Starr even owns a computer. I know I've read/heard him (and others) rail against the internet fitness community. Something about spending too much time behind a keyboard and not enough under a barbell...anyways, 3 minutes sounds good. This is definitely a strength activity. They can be employed in conditioning circuits, but the context of the article is definitely dipping for strength.


wrote …

I wonder what depth he recommends on the dips. Anyone have an idea?


wrote …

My idea would be the deeper the better. Can't speak for him, but hands next to armpits, if you can do it, is a killer.

I like weighted dips for ME days on my westside stuff, I just account for my weight with my clothes on and everything and go for a PR like anything else.


wrote …

You need not wonder Greg, straight from the article:

"Learn to go as low as possible from the very beginning. The lower you go, the more muscles and attachments you hit, which means those groups will get stronger as the numbers move upward"

The question is how low can you go?


wrote …

Go as low as possible - put your hands in your armpits. Not to do so is to place yourself on a slippery slope of cheating, one that will result in your doing the lame partial exercise I see almost every dipper doing. More flexibility and strength will be your reward.

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