How To Do Weighted Dips (Technique & Progression Scheme)

If you want to get started and progress with weighted dips, you are in the right spot.

The weighted dip will help you pack on muscle mass, gain strength, and is an excellent accessory exercise to improve your bench press, overhead press, and skills like the planche.

Keep reading if you want to learn:

  • The benefits of weighted dips
  • How to add weight?
  • What is the correct form?
  • How to train safely for consistent and constant progress
  • What mistakes to avoid to progress indefinitely

Let’s get going.

What are the benefits of weighted dips?

When performed correctly, weighted dips promote two major benefits:

  • You get stronger and more muscular
  • The strength transfers to other lifts and skills

By adding weight to an already effective muscle building exercise, you are providing a new stimulus to your muscles and central nervous system. In effect, your body will adapt to the new stimulus by improving your strength and packing on muscle mass.

What makes weighted dips so effective is the fact that the muscles in your entire body have to contribute to move the weight.

The primary movers are:

  • Pectorals - the chest muscles
  • Triceps - the back of your arms
  • Anterior deltoid - the front of your shoulders

However, when you are doing the exercise, you find that you are developing tension throughout your entire body to support the primary movers to push the weight.

The other benefit of weighted dips is the strength transferability to other lifts and skills.

As you get stronger and can dip more weight, you will most likely notice your bench press and overhead press improving. Since these two exercises use the same primary muscles, dips are an effective accessory exercise for them.

If you are into advanced calisthenics, you will notice the same benefits.

Particularly, you will notice improvements in your handstand push-ups and planche. Once I started dipping more weight, I broke the barrier to the straddle planche and handstand push-ups became noticeably easier.

Ways to add weight

There are multiple ways of adding weight to dips. Each has their pros and cons, but the four most effective are:

  • Dipping belt and weight plates
  • Weighted vest
  • Chains
  • Resistance bands

*dips with dipping belt picture*

Using a dipping belt and weight plates is the ideal way to do weighted dips, in our opinion. You put the belt to your waist, with the weight plates hanging from a chain.

The major benefit of this setup is that you can add a considerable amount of weight to your body. Since the belt is hanging from your waistline, the weight is not pressing on you - like in the case of weighted vests or chains - and you can comfortably bear a lot of weight.

As far as dipping belts are concerned, we couldn’t find any drawbacks.

*dips with weighted vest picture*

If you don’t have access to a dipping belt and plates, the weighted vest is a good choice.

Their benefit is that you can set them up pretty easily. It is all a matter of putting a vest on you. The ease of putting it on and taking it off comes in handy when you want to follow up a set of weighted dips with a set of bodyweight dips without resting.

The drawback to weighted vests is the weight that presses on your shoulders. This means that dips may not feel as comfortable with a vest and that you won’t be able to use nearly as much weight as with a dipping belt.

*dips with chains picture*

If none of the above is available, chains are your next best bet.

In our opinion, the benefit of chains is that your weighted dips will look cool. With that said, if you lack a dipping belt or a weighted vest, chains are a good compromise. They pretty much act like a weighted vest.

The major drawback of chains is the lack of comfort.

I have used chains only once. The extra weight was nice but one of the links was digging into my clavicle. It didn’t leave a mark but the pain was distracting me from focusing on the form.

*dips with resistance bands picture*

As a last resort, you can use resistance bands for your weighted dips.

For the setup, wrap a resistance band around your neck and secure each end of the band between your hands and the parallel bar handles. The difficulty of the exercise is determined by the thickness of the band.

We will be honest; this method is far from ideal.

The major drawback is that with resistance bands, the most resistance is at the top position. As you are lowering, the exercise becomes gradually easier because the band gets looser. This means you will only get strong in certain angles of the range of motion - the top position and around it.

The second drawback is that you can’t regulate the amount of resistance you get.

For this reason, your training will not be objective and you will have a hard time as far as progressive overload is concerned.

How to do weighted dips

We recommend at least three sets of 12 bodyweight dips before attempting the weighted variation. Once you have this prerequisite, you can follow these steps:

  • With your dipping belt around your waist, step or jump on the parallel bars.
  • Lock your elbows and shrug your shoulder blades down. Push your chest forward, assuming a “proud” posture. This is the starting position.
  • Unlock the elbows and start descending slowly. As you are lowering, do not allow your elbows to flare to the sides. Keep them tucked in.
  • When you reach a 90-degree angle at your elbow, or lower, stop for a brief moment then push through the palms to drive back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the designated amount of repetitions.

Change the first step according to your method of adding weight.

We recommend you to choose the heaviest weight that allows you to dominate the exercise. This translates as choosing a weight that challenges you, but allows you to perform each repetition with perfect form and to go down to at least 90 degrees.

What about safety?

With weighted dips, safe training boils down to two words: common sense.

By abiding by these two words, you will find that weighted dips are not nearly as dangerous as most people suggest.

Patience is the most important asset when it comes to weighted calisthenics. Once you start adding weight, there is a high chance your ego is going to kick in. You will want to add more weight, test your strength every other session, and push yourself harder.

That is good up to a point. You have to remember that there is no prize for lifting too much too soon. To train safely, you have to give your soft tissue (joints and ligaments) time to adapt to the extra weight.

Joints adapt slower than your muscles.

So even if you can lift heavier in a short amount of time, it doesn’t mean you should.

  • Train with good form.
  • Be patient by giving your body and central nervous system time to adapt.
  • Rest properly in between sessions.

If you follow these simple guidelines, your progress with dips is going to stay consistent.

Common weighted dips mistakes

There are three mistakes I usually see with weighted dips. These are:

  • Flexing your upper back during the dip
  • Crossing your legs
  • Progressing too fast

The first mistake of rounding the upper back, and having your head forward in a goose neck position, is usually combined with shoulders shrugged up towards the ears.

That is not a stable and strong position to do dips, especially when going heavy.

To get over this issue, drop the weight and learn to do bodyweight dips with perfect form before progressing to weights.

Secondly, we have the crossing of the legs.

Although a lot of people are doing it, even with bodyweight dips, we are not fans of this position. Aside from getting hamstring cramps, it also creates a disconnected torso, which promotes a worm-like technique, where you start arching your spine during the dip.

Fix this shortcoming by keeping your legs straight and glutes tensed.

Lastly, there is the issue of progressing too fast.

As mentioned above, your connective tissue adapts slower than the muscle tissue. Therefore, progressing too fast will eventually lead to injury, or at least some elbow and shoulder pain.

To fix this issue, all you have to do is be patient and include some lower-weight higher-repetition sets in your workout routine every once in a while.


Weighted dips are an outstanding muscle and strength building exercise, and a reliable accessory for bench press, overhead press, and other skills.

Remember to alway be mindful of your form and not progress too fast, and you won’t have to worry about injury or setbacks.

Over to you.