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Parallel Bar Dips is a well-known and fairly accessible exercise. The necessary equipment is available at almost every outdoor sports ground. Such workouts do not require any monetary expenses. In today’s article, we will talk in detail about this exercise.

It is not possible to execute Parallel Bar Dips incorrectly. Any technique will be correct, provided that you perform each movement under control. The question is, what muscles do you want to do the load on? Chest or triceps? But keep in mind that a proper workout plan should consist of both options. For those who can perform dips 20 reps or more, it is advisable to perform this exercise with additional weight.

World Records

World records in Parallel Bar Dips are set in three categories:

  • Maximum dips per hour: 3989 reps. The record was set on September 5, 1998. It is owned by Simon Kent of the UK.
  • Maximum reps per minute: 140 reps. The record was set by the same athlete on July 17, 2002.
  • Maximum weight of additional weights: 197 kg per one rep. The record was set by Marvin Eder. However, this is not official.

What Muscles Do Parallel Bar Dips Work?

Parallel Bar Dips uses the anterior deltoid muscles, pectoralis major, triceps, and also the rectus abdominis muscle works in statics. There are several types of this exercise. In one of them, the load is maximum on the muscles of the arms and it is the triceps that are actively working. In another variation, the pectoral muscles are more involved. Let’s take a closer look at each of these types.

Parallel Bar Dips for Chest

In order to shift the load on the chest muscles, it is required to find parallel bars with a slightly wider distance. The more the shoulders are removed from the body, the greater the load is placed on the chest muscles. Further, when the elbows are bent, you should press your head against your chest and try to tilt the body as far forward as possible. You should go down as low as possible, while feeling a stretch in the pectoral muscles.

Shoulder joints need to be brought together, otherwise there will be a feeling of tension in the capsule of the shoulder joint, which will indicate a destructive load applied to your shoulders. To do this, when you take the starting position, then statically strain your pectoral muscles.

parallel bar dips for chest

When you rise from the bottom point, try to concentrate on pressing the bars with your palms. Moreover, throughout the entire approach, your task is to maintain the position of the body with an inclination forward. You don’t need to fully straighten your elbows. This will completely release the strain on your pectoral muscles.

If the distance between the bars is small, then you can arbitrarily spread your elbows to the sides, or use a reverse grip. This option isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely worth a try.

Parallel Bar Tricep Dips

Technically, this is an easier option, since it does not require special concentration on the muscles being worked out. For beginners, it is easier, since they have a poorly developed neuromuscular connection, then Parallel Bar Tricep Dips will be more natural for them.

In this case, we try to find parallel bars narrower. Do not part your elbows, but on the contrary, keep them closer to each other. Keep the body perpendicular to the floor. It is not necessary to go deep in this option at all, since the angle of flexion of the elbows of 90 degrees is quite enough. However, as in the previous version, you do not need to straighten the elbows completely at the top point. Your task is to shorten the triceps while not straightening the elbows to the very end. Unbent arms will transfer the load from the muscles to the joints and ligaments, which greatly increases the risk of injury. This should be especially remembered when using additional weights.

Push-Ups on Parallel Bar

Parallel Bar Dips is a tough exercise and not everyone will be able to do it well right away. The lighter option would be Push-Ups on Parallel Bar. In this case, your feet are on parallel bars. In fact, it looks a lot like classic push-ups. However, unlike floor push-ups, here you can lower your ribcage below the level of your hands.

push-ups on parallel bar

This exercise should be the starting point for your workouts with parallel bars. Each rep should be done slowly. Lower your body 3-4 counts. Climb up 2 counts. Do not fully extend the elbows. Keep your elbows as close to your bodies as possible as you develop your triceps. At the same time, lower your chest as low as possible so that the pectoral muscles also receive a solid load. Your task is to reach 20 repetitions. Once you are done with this task, then move on to Parallel Bar Tricep Dips. When you have mastered 20 tricep dips in perfect technique, then move on to Parallel Bar Dips for Chest.

Workout Plan

We have prepared several workout plans with Parallel Bar Dips for you.

Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Push-Ups on Parallel Bar 2*10 2*15 2*20 2*20 2*20 2*20 2*20 2*20 2*20 2*20 2*20 2*20
Tricep Dips 1*5 2*5 2*10 2*15 1*20 1*15, 1*20 2*20 2*20 2*20 2*20
Chest Dips 1*5 2*5 2*10 2*15 1*15, 1*20

Training regime: 3 days per week (every other day).

  • dips – each workout;
  • pull-ups – 1 time a week;
  • squats – 1 time a week;
  • push-ups from the floor with different grips – 1 time a week, but no more than 4 sets per 20-25 reps.

Approximate weekly set:

  • Monday: dips, pull-ups;
  • Wednesday: dips, squats;
  • Friday: dips, push-ups.

As you master this program, you will perform dips over 20 reps per 1 set. From this stage, it is advisable to use additional weights.

If you want to increase the number of repetitions only in Parallel Bar Dips without other exercises, then use the following workout plan:

Week Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5 Total
1 10 5 5 3 2 25
2 15 15 10 5 5 50
3 20 20 15 15 10 80
4 25 25 20 15 10 95
5 30 30 25 20 15 120
6 35 30 25 20 15 125
7 40 35 25 25 15 140
8 40 40 30 30 20 160
9 45 40 35 35 25 180
10 45 45 35 35 25 185
11 50 45 35 35 30 195
12 50 50 40 40 35 215
13 55 50 40 40 35 220
14 60 55 40 40 35 230
15 60 60 45 45 40 250
16 65 60 45 45 40 255
17 65 65 45 45 40 260

Workouts are held 3 days a week (not in a row). The break between sets is no more than 2 minutes.

Weighted Parallel Bar Dips

As an additional weight, you can use barbell plates, kettlebells, dumbbells, chains, etc. This will help you increase the results of Parallel Bar Dips. To attach the weight to the body, you can use:

  • Dip Belt with Steel Chain. The length of the chain is adjustable, and the degree of freedom of the weight can be changed depending on the preferences of the athlete. In general, this is a fairly convenient option. However, there is a strong traction effect on the spine. On the one hand, this is the prevention of diseases, and on the other hand, it is the risk of increased injury and a source of possible unpleasant sensations.
  • Power Lifting Belt. The dumbbell is inserted under the belt buckle. The weight is rigidly fixed and is close to the center of gravity of the body. The only inconvenience will be that the dumbbell is strongly pressed against the tense abdominal muscles. This can cause very unpleasant sensations, up to the early end of the set.
  • Martial Arts Belt. This is the least convenient, but the most affordable option in financial terms.
  • Adjustable Weighted Vest. You can buy vest on amazon or make it yourself from improvised materials. This is the most convenient, practical and safe option.
  • Large Link Steel Chain is the most extreme option. The main condition is that the chain is long enough and its lower links lie on the floor when you are in the upper position. The essence of this option is that each new link, rising from the ground under the influence of the forces you apply, proportionally increases the load on your muscles. Dips become heavy regardless of the range of motion.

weighted parallel bar dips

You should master Weighted Parallel Bar Dips with minimal weights. The optimal weight for beginners is 10 lb. Weighting criteria are the same: confident performance 20 reps with 10 lb. As a workout plan, you can use the table above. The main thing here is the gradualness and continuity of the process. Each workout you should try to do a little more than the last.

If you cannot increase the number of dips by 5, then increase by 1. The main thing is the progression of the load. This is the only way to increase the repetitions of Parallel Bar Dips.

Parallel Bar Dips for Advanced Athletes

If you have successfully mastered the classic Parallel Bar Dips and gained experience, then below you can familiarize yourself with more difficult variations of this exercise.

Russian Dips

russian dips

Starting position: you straighten your knees and bend your hip joints at 90° degrees to the body. Next, you perform tricep dips while keeping the abs in constant tension. In this version, the quadriceps, rectus and oblique abdominal muscles work very powerfully. The muscles of the chest are included as stabilizers.

Parallel Pillar Dips

parallel pillar dips

A pair of pillars is used instead of parallel bars. The stability of your hands decreases. The stabilizing muscles are activated accordingly. In this case, these are rotator cuff muscles, biceps, forearm muscles, intercostal muscles, serratus muscles, pectoralis minor muscle.

Reverse Grip Dips

reverse grip dips

Reverse grip is when the palms of the hands are facing outward, not inward. It turns out that when the body is lowered to the lower point, the elbows go to the side, the body remains almost vertical, and the triceps takes most of the load. You shouldn’t do this exercise if you don’t have some flexibility in your wrists.

Upside Down Dips

upside down dips

Starting position: you hold on to parallel bars with your hands, the body is perpendicular to the floor, the head is looking down and the legs are pointing up. In this variant, all core muscles are powerfully involved. The dynamic load falls on the deltoid muscles and triceps.

Alternative for Parallel Bar Dips

Sometimes, for one reason or another, it is not possible to perform the above exercises. Then the question arises: how can you replace Parallel Bar Dips in order to get a comparable effect?

  1. Dips Between Chairs. This is a great option if you are extremely weak and you cannot even do push-ups from the floor.
  2. Push-Ups from the floor. The arms are shoulder-width apart, and the shoulders are as close to the body as possible. You can add an elevation under the palms (special supports or books).
  3. Barbell Decline Bench Press makes the pecs and triceps work in a mode very similar to the Parallel Bar Dips.