Dip Variations for Building Strength

The Dip:



The dip is an underutilized exercise that can build strength in the triceps, shoulders, and even the chest. This exercise can be done on parallel bars, a pull up bar, two boxes, or gymnastics rings. Individuals tend to avoid this exercise or may experience shoulder pain when performing this exercise. If pain is present you are probably not performing the movement correctly or may not have adequate strength to perform it. It is crucial not to push through the pain but scale down to another dip variation. These variations will build foundational strength and over time will allow you to properly perform the dip.

Programming Dips?

Dips can be programmed in any portion of a training program. This may include the workout, the strength, or the accessory pieces. There are many variations and everyone should have some sort of dip exercise within their program. This bodyweight exercise is one of the best exercises for building upper body pressing strength, and I would suggest it be programmed at least once a week.

Dips for Building Muscle:

Dips are an excellent exercise for upper body strength and development. The movement will work the chest muscles in ways that a bench press can’t. It will not only improve your overall pressing strength, but can also build endurance within gymnastics exercises such as the muscle up and handstand.  

The Dip and The Muscle Up:

The dip can be a limiting factor from getting a muscle up. I’ve seen many people that were able to catch themselves on the rings, only to find themselves unable to press up from the bottom of the dip. It would be beneficial for that individual to practice and work the dip position and try to build strength.

Read More Bar Muscle Up Progressions  

Exercises to strengthen the dip portion of the muscle up:

  • Bar dip – Builds overall strength in the dip
  • Russian Dip – Adds the element of a muscle up into a dip movement
  • Ring Dip – Builds strength, endurance, and stability on the ring dip

It’s worth noting that these are advanced movements and some may not be able to preform them. If you can’t execute these exercises, I would suggest picking a dip variation below.

Dip Variations:


  • Box dip with straight legs
  • Russian dip with knee assisted


  • Box dip with bent knee
  • Box dip with bent knee w/ 1 foot off ground
  • Russian dip with feet on ground

Be sure to take a look at the training programs from the Maddox Method. Follow the Maddox Method on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep connected with all our daily content.

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