weighted dips

weighted dips: the ultimate guide 2024

Weighted dips are one of the most popular pushing exercises, and for good reason. They are easy to train and help you build tremendous strength and muscle mass. The strength you develop from weighted dips has a cascading effect on other advanced exercises, such as handstand push-ups. That’s why dips are considered one of the five essential calisthenics exercises. In this blog, I’ll guide you through everything you need to know to start incorporating weighted dips into your workout routine.

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What is a weighted DIP?

The weighted dip is a compound calisthenics exercise that involves adding extra weight to your bodyweight dip, thereby increasing the intensity of the workout. This versatile exercise can be performed on both rings and parallel bars/dip stations, allowing you to easily incorporate additional weight using a weight vest or a dipping belt.

If you’re new to dip training, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered. Check out this guide on how to progress towards mastering your first dip. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to refine your technique, these tips will help you build strength and confidence in your dip training journey. Let’s dive in and elevate your calisthenics game!

muscles used in the weighted dip

The weighted dip primarily targets the chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles, making it an excellent compound exercise for upper body strength. However, what sets the weighted dip apart is its ability to engage the entire body throughout the movement. This means that even your core muscles, including the abdominal region, come into play, adding an extra dimension to your workout.

By incorporating the weighted dip into your routine, you not only sculpt and strengthen your upper body but also enhance overall stability and core strength. The dynamic nature of this exercise challenges various muscle groups simultaneously, providing a comprehensive and effective workout experience.

dips with weight vest vs dipping belt

To add weight to your weighted dips, you have two options: a weight vest or a weight/dipping belt.

The choice between the two primarily depends on your preferred training approach. Each option offers its unique advantages, so let’s delve into the details to help you determine which one suits your training style best.

weighted dips with dipping belt

When you’re training to maximize your strength, a dipping belt is the right choice for you. This belt, worn around your waist, allows you to easily add weight. The dip belt typically consists of a strap with a chain or rope attached.

Wear the belt around your hips, attaching the additional weight through the chain to the belt. Training with a dipping belt offers several advantages over a weight vest.

You can load much more weight onto a dipping belt, with some belts tested to withstand over 1000kg. Additionally, you can position the weight lower, providing a more stable dip position. This not only enhances the challenge but also ensures a secure and controlled workout experience.

weighted dips with weight vest

If you focus heavily on conditioning, for instance, by incorporating a high number of reps and sets of dips and pull-ups, opting for a weight vest is a wise choice.

With a vest, you can easily add up to 30kg to your workout, allowing for quick transitions between exercises—something not as feasible with a dipping belt.

Moreover, a weight vest is more efficient and cost-effective since the weights are included in the purchase price. In contrast, with a dipping belt, you would need to separately purchase the weights. This makes the weight vest a convenient and economical option for those aiming to intensify their conditioning training.

Adding weighted dips in your workout

When incorporating weighted dips into your routine, it’s crucial to do so safely. Naturally, you aim for maximum results without risking injury. Below are some key points to keep in mind.

Sets, reps, and weight

Choose a sets and reps range that aligns with your goals.

If your main focus is strength, opt for 3 to 4 working sets of 3 – 6 reps.
For those aiming to build muscle mass, go for 3 to 4 sets of 8 – 12 reps.

If your goal is muscle endurance, I recommend training with EMOMs (every minute on the minute). This involves performing a certain number of reps every time a new minute begins. For example, you can execute 5 reps with a specific weight every minute for 10 minutes.

Regardless of your chosen training method, it’s essential to gradually increase the weight. However, make these increments small to allow your body to adapt to the heightened intensity.

When training in the strength range, you may progress in weight more quickly than when focusing on hypertrophy or muscle endurance.

Ramp up sets

When training weighted dips for strength and having achieved significant progress, it’s crucial to incorporate ramp-up sets.

Ramp-up sets involve gradually increasing the weight until you reach your working sets. The purpose of these sets is to prepare your body for the intensity of the working sets without exhausting it.

For example, if your working sets consist of 4 sets of 3 reps with 50kg, your ramp-up sets could look like:

  • 8 reps with bodyweight
  • 5 reps with 20kg
  • 3 reps with 30kg
  • 1 rep with 40kg


These ramp-up sets act as a strategic build-up, allowing your body to acclimate to the forthcoming workload, ensuring optimal performance during the main working sets without undue fatigue.

technique weighted dips

Below, you’ll find key points to consider when performing weighted dips.

Straight legs

You often see athletes performing dips with crossed legs, which is not ideal, especially when adding weight. The goal is to maintain as much symmetry in your body as possible, so it’s recommended to keep your legs straight and parallel to each other.

Additionally, it’s crucial not to bend your legs. Engage your entire legs (and core muscles) to ensure your body moves in a vertical motion downward. This not only enhances the effectiveness of the exercise but also promotes proper form and muscle engagement.

Scapula protraction

This is especially important if you aim to maximize the weight in your weighted dip, such as when participating in a street lifting competition. To safely dip as much weight as possible, you want to bring your shoulder blades into a protracted position during the dip.

This technique is crucial for maintaining a safe training practice. It’s well explained in the video by King of Weighted below:

Weighted dips in Streetlifting

In recent years, the sport of street lifting has been gaining worldwide recognition. All over the world, competitions are organised. This sport is a variation of powerlifting, but with weighted calisthenics exercises.

Competitions are set up for a 1 rep max in weighted dips, weighted pull-ups, weighted squats, and the weighted muscle-up. So, if you believe your weighted dip is strong enough, consider participating in one of these events.

Reasons to train weighted dips

Below, you’ll find 3 reasons why you should start training weighted dips.

#1 OVERLAPPING STRENGTH

Before you can start training advanced exercises like the handstand pushup and the planche, you need to build a foundational strength.

The dip is particularly well-suited for this purpose. The vertical push movement in the dip closely resembles that of the handstand pushup, meaning that strengthening your weighted dips directly influences your handstand pushup.

#2 Perfect for low and high rep ranges

You can build tremendous strength with dips by training in a rep range of 3-6 reps. However, the weighted dip is also an ideal exercise if you’re aiming for muscle mass or muscle endurance. For muscle mass (hypertrophy), opt for a rep range of 6-15, and for muscle endurance, choose a rep range of 15 and beyond.

#3 Train dip everywhere

Whether you’re training in a calisthenics park, gym, or at home, there’s always a place to perform dips. For instance, at home, you can place two sturdy chairs facing each other with their backs touching and use them for dipping. Or perhaps you have a corner in your kitchen where you can do dips. The possibilities are plenty!

Of course, this isn’t a long-term solution, but it’s perfect to start with if you want to explore whether calisthenics is right for you before investing in a setup. If you’ve decided that you’re committed to making serious progress in calisthenics, then consider investing in a set of rings or parallettes.

Weighted dips equipment

What do you need to perform weighted dips? Naturally, a weight vest or a dipping belt. However, if you want to train dips at home, a dip station or a set of rings can be incredibly useful.

Additionally, it can be beneficial to use wrist wraps and/or elbow sleeves to support your joints. To enhance your grip, you may also use liquid chalk.

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