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10 Of The Top Dip Bar Exercises To Build Muscle

You may realize that dip bar workouts can offer you impressive benefits but what are some exercises you can do with a dip bar?

Dip bars are a type of fitness equipment that comes down to 2 parallel bars. Some types of dip bars are attached to a stable object, others stand on their own on the ground. While their name suggests otherwise, dip bars can be used to do a wide variety of exercises that build muscle in different areas.

When doing these exercises make sure your dip bars are stable and able to handle the pressure you will put on them. Also make sure you implement the right technique to keep your injury risk to a minimum.

Once those things are checked off you can implement these dip bar exercises for everyone from beginners to people with a lot of resistance training experience. You can start with these examples and think of new ones yourself.

1. Dips

The first example is not surprising, dip bars get their name from the exercise they are mainly used for, the dip. On top of many other benefits, dip workouts are a great way to build muscle in areas like your triceps and lower chest muscles.

To do a dip take the following steps:

  1. Place your hands on the dip bars. Start with your arms in an extended but not locked position.
  2. Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows until these are at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Raise yourself back up again into starting position.

A dip is often done with just body weight. Individuals more experienced with resistance training may need to do weighted dips to keep building a lot of muscle.

On the other hand, beginners to resistance training may need to start with dip alternatives or some of the other exercises on this list because regular dips are too challenging.

If you are able to do them dips are a great exercise choice to build muscle mass. To build the most muscle mass you want to do about 4 sets of 10-40 dips depending on how advanced you are.

2. Pushup variations

Pushups are one of the most popular exercises out there. You can do them in different ways to make them more or less challenging and to make them target different muscles. Dip bars can allow you to do more of these variations.

Depending on what type of dip bars you use you will have to adjust their height or put them on their side.

Some examples of these variations include incline pushups, decline pushups, neutral grip pushups, and pike pushups. To do an incline pushup take the following steps:

  1. Put your hands about shoulder-width apart with either overhanded or neutral grip on your dip bars depending on what type you have available. Your arms start stretched.
  2. Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line and your arms are at a 90-degree angle to your body.
  3. Slowly fold your arms at your elbows until your face is close to the dip bars. Your arms should be at an angle of about 45 degrees to your sides. Another way to put it is if someone is looking down at you from above your arms should make an arrow, not a T.
  4. Stretch your arms again until you are back in the position from the second step.

As you can see an incline pushup is basically a pushup where your hands are elevated. With this variation, the pushup becomes easier to do because you have to push less weight and you will target your lower chest muscles more.

3. Inverted row

A regular weight lifting row involves standing bent over and moving an external weight up and down. With this inverted row, you will move your body weight up and down in a way that targets similar muscles with the help of your dip bar.

To do an inverted row take the following steps:

  1. You start sitting down or lying with your back on the ground under the dip bars.
  2. Depending on what type of dip bar you are working with either put your hand in a neutral or overhanded position on the dip bar.
  3. Move your body so your arms are stretched, your knees are at about a 90-degree angle, and the rest of your body is in a straight line.
  4. Raise your body by slightly bending your elbows until your body reaches the bar. The goal is to mainly make your back muscles support this movement. Keep your arms close to your body, your body in a straight line, and your feet in the same position during the movement.
  5. Slowly lower yourself again until you are back in the position of the third step.

When done right the inverted row engages your back, bicep, and trap muscles.

4. Dip bar tricep extension

The tricep extension is a less challenging way to work out your tricep muscles with a dip bar compared to dips. If your dip bars are not at the ideal height and not adjustable you may need to do this exercise with your knees on a soft surface.

To do a standing dip bar tricep extension take the following steps:

  1. Place your hands about shoulder-width overhanded on the dip bar. Stretch your arms.
  2. The placement of your feet depends on how hard you want to make the exercise. The closer to the bar the easier this exercise will be.
  3. Slowly bend your elbows as far as you safely can and keep them in line with your body throughout the movement. If your feet are close to the bar you may have to tuck in your head so that it can go under that bar. Make sure your arms carry your body weight and keep your feet in the same place.
  4. Slowly stretch your arms again until you are in the position of the second step.

Once this tricep extension exercise becomes easy to you, you can switch over to some of the more challenging dip bar exercises on this list.

5. Knee raises

Knee raises are one of the exercises you can do to work out your abs with the help of dip bars. There are multiple captain’s chair exercises that work your abs and other core muscles that you can also do on dip bars. Some of these other dip bar exercises for abs include leg raises, sideways raises, air cycling, etc.

To do a dip bar knee raise take the following steps:

  1. Place your hands on the dip bars. Start with your arms in an extended but not locked position. Raise your feet by bending your knees until they are off the ground.
  2. Slowly raise your knees toward your chest to at least hip height. Let gravity do its work on your lower legs throughout the exercise as long as your feet don’t touch the ground.
  3. Once you are at the highest you can hold for a second or less.
  4. Start lowering your knees until your legs are back into starting position.

Once these knee raises become too easy you can switch over to leg raises which is a similar movement but with your legs stretched forward. Another way to make knee raises more challenging is with external weights like ankle weights and a dumbbell held between your feet.

6. Assisted pistol squats

The assisted pistol squat is a dip bar exercise to work out your leg muscles. Finding good leg exercises in the gym is usually no problem. However, if you work out at home and a dip bar is the only piece of equipment you have, this assisted pistol squat can be an excellent choice.

To do an assisted pistol squat take the following steps:

  1. Stand on your two feet with stretched legs next to your dip bar and put one hand on the bar in a way that you can use it for balance.
  2. Raise one foot off the ground. The best position to keep that foot off the ground throughout the exercise is by stretching the leg and pointing it forward.
  3. Slowly move your body towards the ground by folding your support leg. Mainly use the dip bar to balance yourself but if necessary you can also use it to lower and lift your body.
  4. How low you should go depends on different factors like knee health but ideally at your lowest point you want your hips to be at or lower than your knee height.
  5. Slowly push yourself up again.
  6. Do a number of repetitions and repeat with your other leg.

If these pistol squats are too hard for you, you can first build up leg strength with regular squats and lunges.

7. Dip bar bicep curl

This next example is a dip bar exercise for your biceps. Most people stick to the wide variety of dumbbell exercises but you can also do a bicep curl with the help of your dip bars.

The dip bar bicep curl may look very similar to the inverted row but there are a few differences that shift the focus to your bicep muscles instead of your back muscles. To do a dip bar bicep curl take the following steps:

  1. You start sitting down or lying with your back on the ground under the dip bars.
  2. Depending on what type of dip bar you are working with either put your hand in a neutral or underhanded position on the dip bar.
  3. Move your body so your arms are stretched, your knees are at about a 90-degree angle, and the rest of your body is in a straight line.
  4. Raise your body by bending your elbows until your body reaches the bar. Compared to the inverted row your back will be stiffer and your elbows will fold more with the bicep curl. Keep your arms close to your body, your body in a straight line, and your feet in the same position during the movement.
  5. Slowly lower yourself again until you are back in the position of the third step.

As the name implies if you do this exercise right it should engage your bicep muscles.

8. Negative dip

If you can’t do regular dips yet you can simply start with the negative dip which is a less intense variation of the regular dip. To do a negative dip take the following steps:

  1. Place your hands on the dip bars. Start with your arms in an extended but not locked position.
  2. Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows until these are at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Instead of raising yourself with your legs like when doing a regular dip simply lower your feet to the ground and raise yourself back up with your legs.

In simple words you can describe the negative as half a regular dip.

9. Assisted dip

The next option for when a regular dip is too challenging is the assisted dip. There are gym machines specifically for assisted dips but you can also just attach resistance bands to the dip bars to carry some of your weight. To do an assisted dip with resistance bands take the following steps:

  1. Attach one resistance band at each of the dip bars.
  2. Place your hands on the dip bars. Start with your arms in an extended but not locked position. Place your knees on the resistance band.
  3. Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows until these are at a 90-degree angle. You should feel that the resistance band supports some of your weight.
  4. Raise yourself back up again into starting position.

Finding the perfect resistance level and how far you can attach the resistance band may take some trial and error.

10. Support hold

This last exercise is mainly for beginners who need to get used to putting their weight on the dip bars and holding this position. To do a support hold take the following steps:

  1. Place your hands on the dip bars with your arms in an extended but not locked position.
  2. Raise your feet so your body weight rests on your arms.
  3. Hold this position for an extended period of time.

The support hold is a lot less challenging than most of the other exercises on this list. Depending on your skill level this can be both an advantage and disadvantage.