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Dips are a popular tricep exercise for both at home or in the gym. Find out what equipment you need and what options you have to make dips more challenging.
Standard dips are an exercise where you lower yourself and push yourself up again while holding yourself up with your hands on two horizontal bars. This movement mainly targets your triceps and your lower chest to some extent if you lean slightly forward.
To do this exercise you need something to lean on although this does not always have to be two horizontal bars. This alone will likely be enough for resistance training beginners and intermediates.
Individuals more experienced with tricep muscle resistance training may need a second category of dip exercise equipment. By making dips harder with external resistance you can build more muscle for longer.
In both categories, there are a variety of options with each their advantages and disadvantages.
Types of dip bars and objects
The first and most essential dip equipment category is something to lean on. Without this, you would not be able to do the exercise.
1. Separate dip bar station
A separate dip bar station, also simply called dip bars, are two horizontal bars with enough room below them to do the dip exercise.
Dip bars have a slight advantage over other types of dip bars in that they are adjustable to your individual preferences. Besides that, they simply do their job well in supporting you during a dip.
A benefit of a separate dip bar station is that there are also other dip bar exercises for other body parts. This piece of workout equipment can also last a very long time.
One potential downside is that certain dip bar stations can be slightly less stable than for example dip bars screwed into a concrete wall. Dip bar stations should be enough for normal use but you should not swing back and forth too much.
2. Power tower
A power tower is a combination of a dip bar, pull-up bar, and often captain’s chair. This equipment allows you to do dips and other powerful exercises.
Besides its versatility, another advantage is that a power tower can last a long time without losing too much value.
A potential downside of power towers is that the dip bars are non-adjustable. The bars may not be the best fit for you personally.
Additionally, power towers come at a relatively steep price compared to some of the other options. You also need a decent amount of space to use and store one.
3. Weight bench
A weight bench is a type of padded bench without back support that is a very standard piece of equipment at most gyms. You can also use one to do a bench dip.
This is the standard dip exercise but with your feet on the ground and your hands on a bench.
Using a weight bench for dips is generally not ideal in terms of what position it puts your shoulders in. The exercise also becomes a lot easier on your triceps become more weight rests on your legs.
A weight bench is more of a dip equipment option if you are putting together a home gym with a limited budget. You can also use the weight bench for a variety of other exercises.
The main benefit of using a weight bench this way is that you don’t have to invest in separate dip bars. However, if you plan to do dips often, you may need to consider investing in other dip equipment anyway.
4. Plyo box
A plyo box, also known as a jump box or step box, is simply a box that is strong enough to deal with jump exercises. You can however also use a plyo box similar to a weight bench as support to do a “bench” dip.
Again similar to the weight bench is that the plyo box is not ideal for the dip exercise. It can help you save the money from extra dip bars but for your shoulder health and tricep gains regular bars are likely a better choice.
Additionally, a plyo box requires a decent amount of storage space. Plyo boxes can be a bit pricey for their relatively specific training exercises too.
One benefit of a plyo box is that you can use it for other exercises. Another benefit of the plyo box is that it is a sturdy piece of equipment that can last a long time.
Types of weighted dips
The way you build muscle in places like your triceps is by straining and damaging your muscles. This may seem counterintuitive but this makes it so your body starts processes to repair them and build a little extra to be better prepared for similar efforts in the future.
Generally the more weight you have to move, the easier it becomes to strain your muscles enough for muscle growth in a short amount of time.
Resistance training beginners and intermediates are likely able to build a nice amount of muscle mass with bodyweight-only dips.
However, at some point, you may need to do the dip exercise with extra resistance to keep seeing a lot of muscle gain. Doing weighted dips at the right points in your training journey can also speed up progress compared to doing the bodyweight variation over and over.
5. Dip belt
The main problem with making the dip exercise weighted is that your hands need to be on the bars. This makes it so they cannot hold any weight.
A way to resolve this is by using a dip belt. This is a belt you can attach weights to that goes around your waist. Besides solving this weighted dip issue, another benefit of dip belts is that they are relatively inexpensive.
Keep in mind that you do need other weights to attach to the dip belt. Besides that, check the weight limit of the different models so that your choice can hold the weight you intend to use.
6. Weighted vest
A weighted vest is basically its name, a vest with extra weight to make your exercises harder. One of the ways it stands out from other fitness equipment is that it allows you to add weight without using your hands.
This is especially useful for exercises like dips where your hands need to hold the bar. Besides that, you also cannot drop a weighted vest since it is attached to your body.
Another benefit of a weighted vest is that it is extremely versatile. You can use it in many exercises for many body parts and different exercise categories.
7. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are an inexpensive type of fitness equipment that are basically elastic cords. You can use resistance bands during dips in two main ways.
For resistance training beginners, regular bodyweight dips may be too hard. If this is that case you can use resistance bands to do assisted dips to work up to the regular version.
Individuals more experienced with tricep training can anchor each end of the resistance band under their hands and loop the equipment safely around their shoulders. This makes it harder to push yourself up.
Some of the other benefits of resistance bands are that they are relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and very portable.
One downside is that resistance bands are not the type of dip equipment you can use for the rest of your life. At least every few years you will need to replace the last set with new resistance bands.
8. Ankle weights
Ankle weights are simply straps with some extra weight that are attached to your ankles. Similar to a weighted vest, ankle weights are great because you can’t drop them and you don’t need to hold them in your hands.
Additionally, they can be used in a variety of exercises for many different body parts. Ankle weights are relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and very portable.
One potential downside of ankle weights is that they generally only come in light weights compared to some of the other weights on this dip exercise equipment list.
If you are more experienced with tricep resistance training this dip equipment may not be enough to make the exercise challenging.
A dumbbell is a type of fitness equipment that is basically a handle with a weight on each side. Due to their form, they are an acceptable weight to clamp between your feet/ankles during dips.
The downsides of this option include that you can drop them and that it is not as comfortable as strapping on a weighted vest or ankle weights. More of your attention also needs to go to the dumbbell which can hinder your dip exercise technique.
Some benefits of dumbbells include that they last a very long time without much reduction in value, you can use them in other exercises, and they have a relatively high weight ceiling.
A potential disadvantage is that dumbbells often require a slightly bigger investment.