Modern fitness centres are usually filled with high-end, clunky machines that look more impressive than they actually are. I’m here to tell you that there are other, better ways to train your body.
Now, I’m not here to settle the argument between weight training and free-weight training; that’s the topic for another day. Today, my job is to show you how to pack on strength and explosive power for your upper body.
Take dips as an example of a perfect upper-body exercise that doesn’t require a costly gym membership and hardly any equipment. All you need is a pair of parallel bars, and you can build up your triceps like nobody’s business (other exercises for building your triceps can be found here).
Needless to say that you need to be able to do some reps with the basic dips, such as the parallel-bar dip and bench dip, and be able to execute perfect form before progressing with the more advanced variations that I am about to introduce.
Let’s Take A Dip
Any time you are using your arms for pressing your body upwards, regardless of the forms, it can be called a dip.
Dips are highly recommended as a way to begin a workout session rather than at the end, when your upper-body muscles are already built up with lactic acid.
As simple as it may be, dips are also one of the most underrated and forgotten exercises out there.
Why are dips so often overlooked? My guess is that people just forget about them after they do reps with parallel-bar dips, because they’re not sure how to progress from that point. It’s a shame, since there are a good number of dip variations for you to choose from.
The hinge dip (or Russian dip) is a pretty big step up from your conventional parallel-bar dips, offering a wider range of motion.
First and foremost, try to lower yourself all the way down in as deliberately, with as much control as possible. At the bottom position, your elbows and forearms should be touching the parallel bars directly.
You’re advised to take this one slowly, and don’t try to go for quantity the first time. It requires much more strength to lift yourself up from this position, compared to a basic dip.
Straight Bar Dips
This is a must if you are training for the notorious muscle-up. Before trying this out, you must be able to execute at least 10 successive parallel-bar dips.
To execute the straight bar dip, your hands should be placed on a single straight bar in front of the body. You’re encouraged to try different hand positions to within your comfort zone; though closer grips tend to increase the difficulty. The ideal distance is about the width of your hips, give or take few inches.
You will need to coordinate your body around the bar to maintain balance during the exercise, especially while lowering down. Leaning over the bar and reaching your legs out in front proves to be very helpful at that.
This puts a huge emphasis on your shoulders and triceps. Beside, your abs will also be activated thanks to the motion of your body.
Make sure that you go down as far as you can; the goal is to acquire the 90-degree angle outside of the elbows while your chest touch the bar at the bottom.
Remember not to let your arms flare out too much to either sides at the bottom of each rep.
The Korean dip is definitely one of the most challenging variations. It’s commonly suggested that you save this one for last, because all good things come to those who wait. Also, 20 consecutive basic dips and good awareness of straight bar dips are fundamental.
In contrast to the straight bar dips, A Korean dip is performed on a straight bar with your hands behind your back.
It is extremely difficult to control your body with such hands positions, so you’ll have to engage your abs and lower back muscles to sustain your body mid-air. Squeezing your glutes and hamstrings also help a great deal.
On the other hand, your shoulders will be deeply stretched during the exercise, so proper warm-up is a must. This variation taxes on just about every parts of your body.
There are some dip variations that are not only cost-effective, but also highly efficient, too. Hopefully, they can help you develop your upper-body as they’ve done for me. As usual, I’d love to discuss further on this topic, so please leave a comment and spread the word if you found this article helpful.