You might have seen male bodybuilders at the gym performing dips on the parallel bars and thought it was a guys-only exercise. The truth is that women can do dips, too. The key to unassisted dips is having adequate strength in your chest, shoulders and triceps. Dips take patience, time and effort to execute successfully; however, by continuing to increase your strength, you can claim the parallel bars as women's territory.
Dumbbell Bench Press
Grasp a dumbbell in each hand using an overhand grip. Lie on your back on a flat bench with your feet flat on the ground. Pull your abdominal muscles in and push your shoulder blades down your back. Keep your head, shoulders and buttocks resting on the bench throughout the exercise.
Position the dumbbells over the middle of your chest with your palms facing out. Extend your arms toward the ceiling to get into the starting position.
Lower the dumbbells down toward your chest as your elbows bend. Keep the elbows close to the torso as the dumbbells lower. Use a slow, controlled movement when bringing the weight to your chest.
Stop lowering when the dumbbells are right above your chest. Push your arms back up toward the ceiling, allowing the arms to be straight without locking out your elbows. You should feel the contraction in your chest and shoulders. Complete three sets of eight to 12 repetitions. The dumbbell bench press targets your chest, arms and shoulders, all which need to be strong to do unassisted dips.
Seated Triceps Dip Machine
Sit tall in the dip machine seat with your feet flat on the floor. Pull your abdominal muscles in toward your spine to protect your lower back. Press your shoulders down and away from your ears.
Take hold of the handles with an overhand grip and your palms facing in toward your body. Keep your elbows in close toward the sides of your torso to properly activate the triceps. Push the handles down toward the floor until your arms are straight.
Hold the contraction for one count. Bend your elbows and allow the handles to rise back up to starting position in a slow and controlled fashion. This exercises targets your triceps, the back of your arms.
- Practice unassisted dips regularly. Even if you are only able to perform one repetition, you are helping strengthen the appropriate muscles.
- Use a workout partner to spot you during the bench press for safety, especially if you are using a heavy resistance level.
- Keep your shoulders pressing down and away from your ears during both exercises. Allowing the shoulders to move out of alignment can possibly lead to an injury.
- Consult a physician before beginning a new exercise program.
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.