They’re called the upper-body squat because they recruit a significant amount of muscle across your chest, shoulders, and delts. When you stress a large amount of muscle with heavy weights, you create a massive amount of mechanical tension, triggering a cascade of growth variables: hormonal adaptations, mTOR activation, and muscle protein synthesis.
You can emphasize different musculature with subtle changes in technique. In all variations, get to at least 90-degrees of elbow flexion. This will put your muscles under a greater stretch and it forces a harder muscular contraction.
Emphasize control on the negative (or eccentric) portion, taking 2-3 seconds minimum to lower yourself under control. This can save your shoulders and create a longer time under tension for more muscle growth.
Hinge your hips, put your legs in front of your body, and tilt your torso to a 45-degree angle. Due to the increased lean you’ll put a ton more tension directly on your chest.
To emphasize your triceps, keep a more vertical torso with your feet underneath or behind you. Warning: Triceps dips can be tougher on your shoulders.
Dumbbell Drop-Set Dip
Drop-set dips are an incredible way to demolish your upper body. Hold a dumbbell between your legs and do 8-10 controlled reps. Once you’re just shy of failure, drop the dumbbell and continue repping out until you hit a point of technical failure.
The heavy set will maximally recruit high-threshold muscle fibers. Once fatigue sets in, you’ll be able to attack the remaining muscle fibers to maximize growth.
Ring dips are an advanced muscle-building exercise because of the extreme stability demands. Even if you’re incredibly strong on dips, you’ll be shaking like a leaf when you first use rings. Once you improve stability and motor control, you’ll be well-equipped to smash your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Aren’t Dips Bad For Your Shoulders?
The idea that “dips destroy your shoulders” is just as bad as the idea that “deadlifts are bad for your back.” It’s only true if you do them wrong.
An exercise is as good as its technical implementation in relation to your unique physiological capabilities. Dips may not be the best exercise for you if you play high-intensity badminton, if you’re an overhead athlete, have jacked up shoulders, or have the shoulder mobility of a crowbar.