The Traditional Dip exercise and its many variations are a simple addition you can make to your routine when equipment and added resistance are hard to come by. The Dip is categorized as a “push” exercise where the main movers are the chest, shoulders, and triceps. One advantage to this exercise over other pushing exercises like push ups is that this set-up allows the subject to work through a greater range of motion in their elbow and shoulder joints by maintaining a vertical trunk position with shoulders back and hands close to the body. This ultimately leads to improvements in flexibility as well as overall strength.


  • Maintain an upright posture and neutral shoulder position for as long as is comfortable through the range of motion. While maintaining a consistent posture and controlled tempo, return to starting position. Elbows should point rearwards and shoulders should not deviate inward at the bottom of the movement. Only go to a depth of movement that maintains those positions.

Joints Targeted

  • Primary joints targeted are shoulder and elbow

Primary Muscles Targeted

  • Pectoralis Major
  • Triceps brachii
  • Deltoids

Starting Position

  • While sitting on the bench, place hands beside hips and walk feet forward until hips are floating, unsupported in front of the bench. Shoulders should stay back in a neutral position with elbows pointed behind you.


  1. Slowly lower your body as low as posture will allow while keeping trunk as close to the bench as possible. Once the lowest range of motion is achieved with good posture, return to start position with vertical trunk and neutral shoulder position.
  2. While lowering yourself down focus on proper trunk and shoulder position and maintaining a close distance to the bench throughout the descent – this will allow for a deeper Range of Motion to be achieved at the Elbow.
  3. Only go as low as posture will allow – due to greater ROM being achieved there is the potential to work through ROM where strength is not sufficient to overcome weight. Work within a controlled Range of Motion and further gains in Flexibility and Strength will naturally come as a result.

Recommended sets and repetitions

  • 2-3 sets of 10-25 reps


  1. Once sets and repetitions are easily achievable adjust body position to increase the amount of bodyweight being lifted while maintaining sets and repetitions
  2. Once leg-supported variation is easily achievable you may begin to add weight
  3. Add sets or repetitions to previously completed weights and body positions

Check out Push Up Progression

by Devin Clayton

Devin is a Bachelor of Physical Education graduate from the University of Alberta. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA and is an NCCP certified Weightlifting coach.