10 Best Dip Bar Exercises: Calisthenics Beginners Start Here

Have you noticed that you're not as motivated to go to the gym as you used to be? Or do you just want to incorporate calisthenics training into your routine?

If so, don't look any further; you're in the right place.

Calisthenics training is increasingly popular primarily because it is highly effective but also because you need minimal equipment for bodyweight exercises.

In this article, you'll learn more about the 10 best dip bar exercises that will help you look jacked up in a few months.

It is important to emphasize that during each of these exercises to do on dip bars, practically the whole body is involved.

That is exactly the main purpose of calisthenics training.

However, I will single out targeted muscles for each exercise. These are the most engaged muscles.

Familiarity with targeted muscles will help you work on the mind-muscle connection too.

1. Static Holds

Target: core, forearms, triceps brachii, pectoralis major

A static hold is an isometric exercise. When performing any isometric exercise, the angle of the joint and the length of the muscle remain unchanged.

At least there are no visible changes. It is an opposite principle compared to the exercises you usually do in the gym.

A workout certainly cannot be based only on isometric exercises, but it is a great way to improve overall strength. Static holds will help you perform dips.

Although the static holds may seem very simple and easy, you will probably find it surprisingly difficult to stabilize in the proper position.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Stand between and hold the bars firmly with both hands.
  2. 2
    With a controlled motion, slowly lift your entire body upwards until your arms are straight. Never keep arms locked to avoid elbow injury.
  3. 3
    Try to stay in that position for at least 10 seconds. When you notice that you are swaying and that your arms are giving out, return to the starting position.
Tip: Over time you will improve your strength and stability. When you can comfortably spend 30 seconds or more in the upward position, you are ready for the next step.
Man Doing Dip Bar Static Holds

2. Negative Dips

Target: triceps brachii, pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, latissimus dorsi, forearms

During the eccentric phase of a lift, a person can work with up to 40% more weight than during the concentric part of a lift.

That's why negative reps have a huge impact on strengthening muscles and connective tissues.[1]

It is one more step towards being able to perform full bar dips. Also, negative dips are useful for advanced athletes as well. This exercise is one of the best alternatives to full chest dips, especially for beginners.

Additional weight can be added using a dip belt to make this exercise even harder and improve pushing strength further.

Negative dips are quite challenging for both the muscles and the nervous system, so you should give your body and CNS enough time to recover.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Stand between and firmly grasp with both hands, palms facing the floor.
  2. 2
    Place yourself in an upward position. If you feel a lack of stability, bend your knees and cross your ankles instead of keeping your legs extended.
  3. 3
    Bend your elbows to slowly lower your body.
  4. 4
    Control the entire movement and keep your upper body upright.
  5. 5
    When you complete the entire movement and are back to the starting position, you've done one rep.
Man Doing Negative Dips

3. Band-Assisted Dips

Target: triceps brachii, pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, latissimus dorsi, forearms

I always take advantage of the resistance band when working with clients who need help with dips or pull-ups. It assists you through the upward motion.

As you progress, you change resistance bands and use ones with less tension.

Thus, the exercise will never become too easy and will remain effective. Bands can be used to improve your resistance training experience as well.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Place a band over the dip station while leaving the middle of the band hanging.
  2. 2
    Stand between and hold the bars firmly with both hands before slowly raising them to the static hold position.
  3. 3
    You should control the downward movement same as when you perform negative dips.
  4. 4
    At the lowest point of the range of motion, push upward until your arms are fully straightened. The resistance band will help you complete the repetition and return to an upright position.
Man Doing Band-Assisted Dip

4. Dip Bar Dips

Target: triceps brachii, pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, forearms, lower back muscles, and core

Congratulations! When you get to this part, it means you've developed the necessary full-body strength to perform the regular dips correctly.

The dip is an exercise that is equally used in the gym and street workouts. The reason is obvious - it affects the strength and size of a large number of upper body muscles.

There is a difference between triceps dips and chest dips. As the name suggests, one type is more oriented towards the triceps and the other towards the chest.

If you want to focus on the triceps, keep your arms parallel to the floor and your torso upright.

Chest dips require you to lean forward. So your shoulders will pass elbows, exposing your chest to more strain.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Stand between and hold the bars firmly with both hands.
  2. 2
    Extend your arms, and take the starting position.
  3. 3
    Bend your elbows and descend your body. You can add a negative phase if you are strong enough.
  4. 4
    When you are at the bottom of the range of motion, push back to raise yourself.
Pro Tip: It is not likely that dips will ever become easy for you, and you can always increase the number of reps, sets, or hang weights around your waist and thus making the exercise more difficult.
Man Doing Regular Weighted Dips

5. Dip Bar Push-Up

Target: triceps brachii, pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, forearms, and core

A dip bar is a multifunctional piece of equipment so you can do other types of exercises, not just dips.

For example - regular and incline push-ups.

Push-ups and dips belong to the same group of compound exercises that activate upper body muscles such as your shoulders and arms.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Depending on the type of dip bar, you may need to turn it on its side.
  2. 2
     Grab the sidebars between the top and bottom of the dip bar. Whether you will grab it closer to the top or bottom will depend on your height.
  3. 3
    The feet should be moved far enough back so that the body and arms are fully extended.
  4. 4
    Keep your elbows close to the body and lower yourself towards the floor in a straight line. Keep wrists stacked.
  5. 5
    Go as low as you feel in control of the movement without breaking form.
  6. 6
    Maintain a tight core.
  7. 7
    Explosively push back up into starting position.
Pro Tip: Although the goal of using the dip station for push-ups is to increase your range of motion at the bottom of the movement compared to floor push-ups, be careful not to go and stop too low. Otherwise, the possibility of shoulder injury is very high.
Woman Doing Dip Bar Push-Up

6. Dip Bar Bicep Curl

Target: biceps brachii, latissimus dorsi, forearms

Men are especially proud of their bicep muscles. The dip bar bicep curl will definitely make your arms grow.

We will talk about inverted rows ahead, and then you will notice that these two exercises are similar.

There is a difference, though. In this exercise, the biceps is the primary muscle used because of your body's position.

See Related - Best Bodyweight Bicep Exercises

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Sit under the dip station. You can also lie on your back if you find that position more comfortable.
  2. 2
    Place your hands on the dip bars. Go with an underhand or neutral grip, depending on which dip station you have.
  3. 3
    When you extend your arms and place your knees at an approximately 90-degree angle, the rest of the body should be completely straight.
  4. 4
    Bend your elbows and use your biceps to lift your body all the way up to the dip station.
Man Doing Dip Bar Bicep Curl

7. Scapular Dips

Target: scapular muscles, triceps brachii, posterior deltoids, rhomboids, core

When I have a beginner as a client, I usually do not implement scapular dips and scapular push-ups in the workout routine because those exercises require an enviable level of strength but also a mind-muscle connection.

For those who can perform it, the scapular dip is very useful. It can be part of a warm-up routine.

Also, it can help correct the instability of the scapula and shoulder, which is important for proper body posture and prevention of injuries.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Stand between the bars, shoulder width, and hold the bars firmly with both hands.
  2. 2
    Ascend to the static hold position.
  3. 3
    Arms should remain straight at all times.
  4. 4
    When you go down, the shoulders should go up.
  5. 5
    Then push away from the ground and extend your shoulder blades.
Pro Tip: You should try to reduce the activity of the auxiliary muscles as much as possible and engage the scapula muscles even more.
Man Doing Scapular Dip

8. Dip Bar Pull Up

Target: latissimus dorsi, biceps brachii, forearms, shoulders

Pull-ups are another calisthenics 101 exercise and one of the top dip bar exercises. A dip bar can help you target the same muscles as when you do regular pull-ups.

You can use one or both dip bars for pull-ups. This exercise is also an excellent substitute for regular pull ups, which is great for beginners.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Position yourself vertically under the bar, and the bar should be exactly above the middle of the chest.
  2. 2
    Grab the bar using an underhand grip.
  3. 3
     Perform pull-ups.
Pro Tip: There are three ways to position your legs for dip bar pull-ups. Beginners should bend their knees and place their feet flat on the ground.
Intermediate and advanced exercisers can either keep their legs fully extended on the floor or place them on a chair, for example.
Man Doing Dip Bar Pull Up

9. Inverted Rows

Target: latissimus dorsi, biceps brachii, deltoids, forearms

Since you can do numerous push exercises on the dip bar, you should also implement several pull exercises because the push-pull split is one of the most effective.

For dip bar inverted row, you can use one or two bars, but our suggestion is to use two bars.

Using two bars helps you focus on performing exercise and engaging back and biceps muscles instead of stabilizing yourself.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Lie on the floor between the dip bars and grab hold of them.
  2. 2
    Move your feet until you take the glute bridge position.
  3. 3
    Fully extend your arms, but don't forget to engage the core all the time.
  4. 4
    Pull your body up, keeping your elbows tucked. The feet must remain motionless throughout the exercise.
  5. 5
    At the top of the movement, pause for about a second. Then descend, not suddenly but in a controlled manner.
Pro Tip: The further you move your heels away from your body, the more challenging the exercise will be. You can also extend your legs entirely and thus pull your full body weight.
Man Doing Dip Bar Inverted Rows

10. Dip Bar Knee Raises

Target: core muscles including hip flexor muscles, triceps brachii, forearms

The core is often overlooked. Don't let that happen because core muscles are one of the most important muscle groups since they act as spine stabilizers.

Once you place dip bars in a parallel position, you are ready for leg raises, one of the best core exercises on dip bars.

Related Article - Best Hanging Leg Raise Alternatives

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Hold the bar firmly with both hands, and keep your arms straight.
  2. 2
    Exhale.
  3. 3
    Lift your knees until they are parallel to the floor.
  4. 4
    Stay in this position for about one second.
  5. 5
    Inhale as you return to the starting position.
Woman Doing Dip Bar Knee Raises

You Should Be Doing Dip Bar Movements – Here’s Why!

There is no doubt that the dip is one of the most popular exercises. It is very simple and does not require a special skill, like the clean-and-jerk and other Olympic lifting movements.

Some of the dip bar movements we've mentioned are a little bit more complicated but still can be mastered in a few days if the exerciser possesses sufficient strength.

Origin Of Dip Bars

We cannot say with certainty when dips were performed for the first time.

What we know for sure is that dips have been an indispensable part of the workout routine since bodybuilding came under the spotlight in the 50s and 60s.

Many famous bodybuilders, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, spoke about the importance of dips for chest growth, especially lower chest muscle workouts and triceps exercises.

Benefits Of Using Dip Bars (AKA Paralettes)

There are numerous benefits of using a dip bar and/or parallettes.

Parallettes are small gym and gymnastics equipment that have a similar purpose as parallel bars but are portable due to their size.

  • There are not many exercises that are as useful for increasing upper body strength as dips.
  • Various muscle groups are activated in just one motion, which has a positive effect on the capacity for muscle fiber activation. This leads to an increase in strength and muscle mass but also helps burn body fat.
  • Dips are equally useful for beginners and seasoned exercisers.
  • During the pandemic, we finally understood the importance of the exercises that can be performed outside the gym, with very little gym equipment and just your body weight.
  • Dip bar exercises at home are so valuable when you have limited time available for a workout.
  • Dips will help you increase your bench press, tricep extension exercises, and other gym exercises. When you hit a workout plateau, you need to change something, and adding dips to your workout routine is a great way to do it.
  • The strength and size of the major muscles are not the only things you will gain by doing dips. You will also notice how your wrists have become bulletproof, and your upper body will become significantly more flexible.
  • Portable dip bars are available at almost every store and online, while you can also go with homemade pull-up bars and dip bars.

Suggested Equipment - Best Dip Bars For Home Workouts

How Often Should I Use Dip Bars?

Each person has different needs, abilities, health problems, and other individual factors that influence the making of a workout.

That's why it is not possible to give one to the question of how often I should use dip bars that generally applies to everyone.

However, if you have no physical limitations or recent injuries, you should be perfectly fine using dip bars 2 to 4 times a week.

It is the optimal number of training sessions that leaves enough time for rest.


Tips For Getting Started With Dip Bars

When you buy it, the first thing you should check is the weight limit before starting dip station workouts. That way, you won't have to worry about your safety.

If you have sensitive skin on your hands and no prior experience in lifting weights, you will probably need calisthenics or gym gloves.

Otherwise, blisters will force you to take a multi-week break.

Certain types of gloves will provide additional support to your wrist.

While it seems very useful, you shouldn't use such gloves for a long time, or the wrist will not strengthen enough, and it will prevent you from progressing.

man in white shirt and gray shorts using dip bars

Dip Bar Workout Routines (Exercise Progression)

Beginner Full-Body Routine

Dip station exercises are strenuous, so beginners will find dip bar workouts very challenging and probably won't be able to do everything properly the first few times.

That is the case with most types of strength training.

Example workout:

2-3 workouts weekly: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

Perform each exercise for 8-12 reps and 2-3 sets. Rest between sets for 45-60 seconds and between exercises for 90 seconds.

  • Static holds
  • Negative dips
  • Bend assisted dips
  • Dip bar push-ups
  • Inverted rows
  • Dip bar knee raises

Intermediate Full-Body Workout

Example workout:

3-4 workouts weekly: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday

Perform each exercise for 10-12 reps and 3-4 sets. Rest between sets for 45 seconds and between exercises for 60-90 seconds.

  • Dip bar dips
  • Negative dips
  • Dip bar push-ups
  • Scapular dips
  • Inverted rows
  • Dip bar pull-up
  • Dip bar biceps curl
  • Dip bar knee raises

Advanced Athletes

Advanced athletes should add weight and tempo. Tempo refers to the time the muscle spends in each part of one repetition - isometric, eccentric, and concentric.

Example workout:

4-5 workouts weekly: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday

The number of sets, reps, and rest depends on the type of workout. If heavier weights are added, a lower number of repetitions and longer breaks are recommended, and vice versa.

  • Dip bar dips
  • Negative dips
  • Dip bar push-ups
  • Inverted rows
  • Dip bar pull-up
  • Dip bar biceps curl
  • Dip bar knee raises

Frequently Asked Dip Bar Questions

Can you build muscle with just a dip bar?

A dip bar is versatile enough, so it can be the only piece of equipment you will use to build a strong upper body. For the lower body, you will have to implement a few more different exercises in your workout routine.

Are dip bars good for abs?

Yes, dip bars can help you build abs in different ways, but if you want a 6-pack, you have to take care of your diet too.

What are EQualizers?

EQualizers are dip bars made by Lebert Fitness for a full-body workout, and they are supposedly the most stable bars on the market.

How much weight should I use for dips?

Until you can do at least 10 bodyweight dips, do not add weight. When you start adding weight, do it gradually. Injuries such as rotator cuff tears are more common when significant weight is suddenly added.[2]


Conclusion

Dip bar exercises are a very effective way to bulk up and build upper body strength.

They are equally good for the gym and calisthenic workouts, so those exercises are a great fit for almost every workout routine.

We hope this guide has helped you learn how to properly perform exercises with your dip station and understand the impressive benefits.

Reference: 

1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18981046/
2. https://rollinghillsmedical.com/shoulder-tendonitis-exercises-to-avoid-fastest-recovery-treatment/

Filip Maric

Last Updated on November 28, 2022