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Do’s and Don’ts of: The Unassisted Dip

Hello friends!

Today’s 101 is one of my favorite exercises: the Unassisted Dip. When done properly, the dip effectively targets the chest (pectoralis major) muscle and all three triceps muscles (yes, there’s 3; thus the prefix “tri”).

To properly perform the Unassisted Dip (The Do’s):
- Grab parallel handles with palms facings inwards.
- Raise your legs off the floor by bending your knees and hips.
- Lower your body by bending your arms at the elbows, allowing your elbows to flare out slightly to the sides.
- Bend until you feel a slight stretch in the chest and/or shoulders (shoulders will be slightly lower than elbows).
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and push your body back up until the elbows are FULLY straight.

What not to do (The Don’ts):
- Overly shrug your shoulders through either the downward or upward phase of the movement. This is excessive engagement of the trapezius muscle group and can cause much neck discomfort.
- Place too much stress through the shoulder. While this exercise will secondarily recruit the anterior (front) deltoid, it is NOT a shoulder exercise.
- Fail to fully extend the elbow at the top of the movement. I see this one ALL THE TIME. Full elbow extension allows for full range of motion (ROM) through the movement. Additionally, you DO NOT get full recruitment of the triceps group if you fail to fully extend (straighten) the elbow.

Take these pointers with you next time you hit the dip bars. If you find it’s too challenging to execute the Unassisted Dip with these protocols, then jump on the Assisted Dip machine and perfect that form! It will translate to strength gains, improved ROM, and decreased likelihood of injury.

Hugs n Shrugs,

Julia

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