What Muscles Do Dips Work Out?

Dips primarily work the triceps, shoulders and chest. The lower trapezius works as a stabilizer. By keeping the upper body straight throughout the dip, the triceps are emphasized. Alternatively, leaning forward during dips places more of an emphasis on the chest.

As a compound bodyweight exercise, dips are great for building muscle and increasing upper body strength. To perform the movement properly, a trainer should grasp hold of two parallel bars positioned about shoulder-width apart, then raise himself to the starting position. The elbows should be locked, and the knees should be bent. From here, the trainer bends his elbows to lower his body until his shoulder joints are just below his elbows. From this position, the trainer uses his arms to push himself upward until he is back at the starting position with his elbows nearly straight, but not locked. If bodyweight dips become too easy, a dipping belt can be used to add weight.

To avoid tearing a muscle, dips should be performed in a strict, controlled fashion. Trainers with pre-existing shoulder problems should avoid dips, as should trainers who experience shoulder pain during any part of the dip movement. Decline close-grip bench presses may be performed instead of dips to target the same muscles.