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Old 02-09-2008, 12:37 AM   #1
Jason Watson
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Very weak dips

I do dips (bar dips) at every work out per the CFWU, and they are terrible! The reps I do accomplish don't even feel like they are deep enough. Im not really sure why it is they seem so difficult for me. I am not extremely proficient at all the moves (i.e pu's, still cant kip, or do 10 consectutive), but I feel like I should be able to do 10 good dips no problem.

Just wondering if there are any suggestions for improving my dips? I know its a great movement, I just wish I could knock'em out like a champ!
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Old 02-09-2008, 07:54 AM   #2
Keith Wassung
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Re: Very weak dips

Many years ago, while serving in the military, I was sent on a temporary assignment to the west coast for a couple of weeks to attend a technical school. After checking in at the base, I changed my clothing and went in search of the base gym. This particular base had just built a state of the art athletic complex with basketball courts, racquetball courts, indoor running track and two indoor pools.

Though I hoped that the weight room would be well equipped, I was not surprised to find a small dusty room in the back littered with assorted bars and plates and few basic pieces of rusty equipment. I trained for about forty-five minutes and decided to finish up with a couple of hard sets of bar dips. I have always enjoyed doing bar dips, it is a basic exercise that doesn't require a whole lot of thought, you can just focus on going up and down and pushing them to the absolute limit.

Dips are probably the easiest exercise that you can do forced reps and negatives without the aid of a spotter. The small weight room had no equipment for dips and I was unable to rig up a temporary set of dip bars. I left the weight room and walked down the hall into the basketball court area in hopes of finding a couple of chairs or some railings which could be used for dips. I spotted an old pair of gymnastic parallel bars in a corner of the gym. I went back to the weight room, collected a couple of 25lb plates along with my belt and dipping hook and walked back to the parallel bars to do a couple of sets of dips to complete my training for that day.

Those three sets of dips were easily the best three sets of dips that I had ever done in my life. The movement was smooth, the weight felt relatively light and when I was done I felt a deep ache throughout my entire upper body. I thought that maybe the wooden bars had a bit of spring to them and that they were giving me an artificial bounce. I had used the very ends of the bars and I concluded that they were as rigid as any steel parallel bars. I continued to use the gymnast bars for the next two weeks and I improved my weight for reps on each successive workout.

When I resumed my training at my normal gym back home, I was disappointed to find that I was unable to duplicate the weight and reps that I had so easily performed on the gymnastic bars. Several months later, I trained at a small private gym, which featured equipment that had been custom made by the owner. The dip bars were constructed out of heavy-duty two-inch pipe. Using these bars, I again had a phenomenal dip workout.

I concluded that it was the thickness of the bars themselves that were responsible for the increased performance. I have always made it a point since then do perform my bar dips with very thick bars. I believe that the added thickness helps distribute the weight more evenly across the hands and wrists, resulting in a more efficient movement. The difference between using standard dip bars and extra thick dip bars has to be experienced to be believed.

If you are training in a commercial gym, it is simple to modify a set of regular dips bars to an increased thickness. You could make a plastic sleeve out of PVC piping and then wrap small towels around the bars and then slide the piping over the bars. You can also purchase Olympic bar adapter sleeves at most sporting goods store. These sleeves allow you to convert an exercise bar into one that can accept Olympic plates (why anyone would want to do that is beyond me) The sleeves can slide over most dips bars that are open ended to create a two-inch sleeve. If you train at home you can purchase a couple of two-inch metal pipes from any hardware store and with the aid of some in-expensive muffler clamps, create a thick dip bar apparatus in your power rack. Use your imagination and be creative-you might just end up with a stronger and better developed upper body.


Keith Wassung
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Old 02-09-2008, 09:10 AM   #3
Jason Watson
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Re: Very weak dips

Thats really intersting. I'll try anything at this point. Thanks Keith.
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Old 02-09-2008, 02:07 PM   #4
Steven Low
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Re: Very weak dips

Grease the groove.

If you need help with higher amounts of reps use something to assist like a pulley or band.
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Old 02-09-2008, 02:54 PM   #5
Lenora Galitz-Pfeffer
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Re: Very weak dips

I concur with Steven Low. Grease the groove. If you use assistance bands, you will be able to maintain a good ROM, which is essential before progressing to ring dips. It will also stretch you chest area which is important for safety and performance on many other exercizes. Bands can range from heavy assitance to light assistance as your strength and flexibility increase.
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Old 02-09-2008, 03:32 PM   #6
Leah Turner
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Re: Very weak dips

Keith, your post read like an enthralling story! Seriously, I was sort of blown away without realizing...
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Old 02-09-2008, 05:01 PM   #7
Jason Watson
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Re: Very weak dips

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenora Galitz-Pfeffer View Post
I concur with Steven Low. Grease the groove. If you use assistance bands, you will be able to maintain a good ROM, which is essential before progressing to ring dips. It will also stretch you chest area which is important for safety and performance on many other exercizes. Bands can range from heavy assitance to light assistance as your strength and flexibility increase.
how would you set up the bands on open end bar dips?

And yes Keith's reply did read like a story. I was looking to turn the page at the end of his reply. NICE!
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Old 02-09-2008, 07:09 PM   #8
Keith Wassung
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Re: Very weak dips

JOE VERSUS THE SQUAT RACK

By Keith Wassung



Joe Myers anxiously glanced at the clock on his office wall. The hands read 4:40pm, which meant another twenty minutes until the workday was over. Though it was a crisp Thursday in late October, and though the Dow Jones was up today and prime interest rates were down by a quarter percentage, the only fact that mattered was this was a training day and in less than an hour, Joe would be standing in front of the squat rack, ready to do battle with the steel king of the gym. Joe was 26, a loan officer for a prestigious bank and also an avid lifter. He had begun training in college, 6 years earlier and had made much progress, transforming himself from a 170lb guy with barely an athletic build to a solid and well developed 215lbs.

There were three main places to train in Joes city. Dukes Hardcore Iron Gym was on the edge of town, wedged in between an automobile repo yard and a factory. The gym advertised itself as catering to the hardcore lifter. Joe had trained there a few times and was not impressed. The place was filthy, the equipment was not maintained and after all, any gym that had to refer to itself as hardcore probably was not that hardcore. The gym also had a lot of chemical commerce transactions, something Joe wanted no part of. The second gym in town was a bright, upscale fitness center that had all the trappings of a 21st century health club including countless exercise classes, fancy machines and personal trainers, all of which catered to the white collar business types. Joe had trained there for a month on a free pass. It was an ok place to train, but very annoyingespecially the swarm of the personal trainers who resided there. Most personal trainers were like telephone psychics, you paid them a lot of money, they told you what you wanted to hear and all you got for your money was a temporary ego boost.

Joe currently trained at the Coldwell Recreation Center, an athletic and recreation facility that had an indoor basketball gym, a softball field, a pool, tennis courts and a freestanding building that housed the gym. The gym was divided into a weight training area, a cardio room and an aerobics class that was also used by a couple of marital arts classes. The place was run down and understaffed, but the price was affordable and it was a good group of people who used the facilities. The weight room was mostly frequented by guys sporting either a Big Dawg tattoo or a Big Dawg logo on their lifting belt.

Joe had a goal of squatting 375 for ten reps tonight. During his last leg workout he had squatted 370 for ten reps, but it taken just about everything he had to complete the set. His goal was to squat 405 for 10 reps by Christmas, so if he could hit the 375x10 reps tonight, he would be on track to reach his yearly goal. He alternated his leg workouts by performing sets in the 10-20 rep range on some days and other times he did reps in the 3-7 range. The type of squats he performed were full *** to grass squats. He had only begun doing full squats instead of parallel squats about 18 months earlier upon the advice of Rex, a powerfully built 55 year veteran lifter that he had met at a banking convention. Full squats had done more for his overall strength and development than anything else he had ever done. He loved doing them at the fitness center, which always invoked the personal trainers to warn him about knee trauma. As Rex had explained it, when the squat is performed to a parallel depth, it is the knees which take the majority of the stress involved in stopping the downward momentum of the squat. When the squat is performed to a full depth, this same braking stress is transferred to the larger, powerful muscles of the hips, hamstrings and buttocks. It is obvious that the squat must be performed with a great deal of control and that any type of rapid rebounding, whether it is done at parallel or at full depth will be detrimental to the knees.


Joe pulled into the facility and was glad to see that the parking lot was nearly full. It was not that he wanted to show off when lifting, but having a bunch of people around always provided extra incentive and tonight Joe needed all the help he could get. He opened the door and was met by the blaring sound of the stereo. The room was full, but not crowded. Joe quickly walked to the locker room and began changing into his workout clothes. Walking out into the cardio area he found a quiet corner and began ten minutes of stretching and mental rehearsal. From his vantage point, he was unable to see the squat rack in the next room, but he knew it would be there waiting for him. Following the stretching was 5 minutes on the exercise bike which produced a mild sweat. Ready to commence his lifting, Joe walked into the weight room and was greeted by several people. He looked over at the dumbbell rack and bench press station and saw the same group of 4-5 guys who always train together. They loved bodybuilding exercises, using bodybuilding terminology and they avoided heavy back and leg work like the plague. All of their workouts were the same, 5 sets of every conceivable type of press, dumbbell fly or curl interspersed with boastful tales of their previous night of bar hopping and partying. The weight that they use in their exercises never changed and the only benefit they get is a temporary muscle pump. Similar groups are present in just about every gym and though they are decent guys, they have a tendency to draw others into their group, which kills any type of training progress.

Off in the corner stood the power rack where Joe would perform his squats. The rack spoke to him as he looked over at it. Hello Joe, I bet your going to try to exceed your last squat workout.its not going to be easy..you look a little tired.you probably havent recovered from your heavy deadlifts earlier this week.why dont you wait a few more days.get some rest and it will be a lot easier then. The squat rack could not stand to be challenged and it hated to be beaten. It kept most members from ever taking the challenge merely by the thought of the pain and discomfort of the squat. Those who did challenge the rack were quietly discouraged by the constant planting of seeds of fear and doubt. Joe glared at the rack and silently proclaimed 375 for ten solid reps..TODAY.

Joe began his workout with incline presses and followed that with narrow grip bench presses, standing overhead presses and dips. The reps were hard, but solid and Joe felt strong. Finishing his last set of dips, he walked over and stood directly in front of the squat rack and began stretching out his hamstrings. His heart began to beat faster in anticipation of the upcoming sets. The gym was abuzz with activity. The rack whispered Hey Joe, look whos in the cardio room Joe turned around and saw Ashley, an attractive brunette walking on the treadmill She was a customer at the bank and Joe had talked to her a few times and even considered asking her out. Go talk to hershe likes you..ask her out. Joe wanted to get a drink of water and the fountain just happened to be near the treadmill, so he figured he would get a drink and say hi to Ashley. .Joe started in her direction but then caught himself and turned back towards the rack. Nothing was going to distract his focus on the squats. He loaded the bar to 135lbs for his first warm-up set. He positioned himself under the bar, backed out of the rack and began squatting. 135 always felt strange, almost too light to really get into the proper groove. His right knee made a slight creaking noise on his 3rd and 4th rep. Knees bothering you a bit Joe?.......its probably from that time you injured your knee playing baseball in high schoolit probably never healed properly..some tight knee wraps would take care of thatyou should hold off on your squats today and go buy some..come back on Monday and do your squats then. The rack knew that if it could install just enough fear and doubt into a challenger to get them to postpone their squats, then it would be much easier to get them to postpone it again the next time. 375 for ten full repsno matter what it takes replied Joe. He loaded 225 and did 5 smooth reps followed by 275 for a solid triple. His technique was precise, just like a well maintained piston.
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Old 02-09-2008, 07:10 PM   #9
Keith Wassung
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Re: Very weak dips

Part Two

Joe, you are really looking buff these days. you know that squats destroy the aesthetics of your body, you would get much better development from super-setting some leg extensions with leg presses. Joe did not even respond, he knew that the rack was getting desperate to try to throw him off with that lame excuse. He loaded the bar to 315lbs for a warm-up single. He often judged his upcoming set by how the 315 felt. Joe squatted the weight powerfully, but it did not feel quite as light as he had mentally pictured. See, I TOLD you that you were not ready..its those deadlifts you did, your fatigued, over-trained..do go some isolation movements and come back and squat next week Joe gritted his teeth, trying hard to ignore the goading whispers of the squat rack. He added a 10lb plate to each side for his last warm-up single with 335lbs. He paced back and forth in front of the rack, his rage growing. He gripped the bar tightly even shaking the bar and plates a few times. Stepping under the bar, he un-racked the bar and stepped back. He heard someone exclaim Watch this guy squat. Hes an animal! He descended into a full squat and stood back up with as if there was no weight at all on the bar. He triumphantly returned the bar to the rack, slamming it down with a loud bang. He was now ready for the big set. Nothing was going to stop him from reaching his goal. Joe pulled off the ten lb plates and replaced them with a pair of twenty-fives. He then added a 5lb collar to each side bring the total weight on the bar to 375lbs. He centered the bar on the pins and then went and sat down on a flat bench to tighten up the laces on his high top shoes. His mind was totally focused on doing these ten reps and he began mentally rehearsing the set. This set would be very difficult, it would be a tremendous battle, but he would win. All of a sudden, Joe realized that the gym had become very quiet, had everyone stopped their training just to watch him squat? He turned around and realized that the gym was empty, apparently everyone had just up and left in a mass exodus. Crap, thought Joe, there goes my added motivation. Joe, this just isnt your day.even if you succeed with this weight, no one will see it.come back Monday its not safe to try that weight all alone in a gymput it off for a few days the rack suggested. Joe stood and marched towards the rack with fire and determination in his eyes and in his heart. STEEL ON TARGET he yelled in a determined voice, borrowing a favorite phrase from his Uncle Jack who was an army artillery officer. Taking several deep breaths, Joe charged the steel cage, un-racked the ponderous barbell and stepped back into his squatting stance. The rack tried made one final attempt to thwart Joes goal, Hey Joe, why bother with those full squats, do what everyone else does and just go to parallelwhy, if you did that, you could already hit the 405 for ten with no problem.

Joe ignored the voice and began the first rep. ONE.whew that was tough, but the first rep in a set of ten is always tough, just focus on getting the next two in the bag, TWO..THREE. Ok, now Im in the groove, one-third of the way there, FOUR.FIVE, half-way donetake a few deep breaths, get mad.SIX.that was the toughest one yet. Only four reps to go, the last rep is the hardest, but you know if you get nine, you will get ten, so dont worry about the last one, just get these next three. SEVEN..damn that was tough, ok, stay tight, and focus on the technique checkpoints. The next repetition stalled at about 30 degrees above parallel. Joe stayed tight and fought the weight through the sticking point. EIGHT. He took several breaths, growled and muttered a few choice words. Just two more reps, Ive gone this far, no turning back, here we go. NINE..the 9th rep was extremely tough. If he had been listening he would have heard the rack gently try to talk him out of attempting the 10th rep. He was far too focused and determined to think about anything other than the completion of the last rep. A low, guttural sound escaped from his mouth that was a cross between a growl, a snarl and a caveman scream. Just like the previous nine reps, he squatted all the way down and came up with every bit of effort he could muster. He fought through two sticking points just below the parallel position and then in the blink of an eye, he stood up, completing the tenth and final rep. He let out a triumphant yell. No one had witnessed the set, it would not be on ESPN sports center, it would not be in any magazine or even the local paper, but Joe had just beaten the squat rack by achieving his all time personal record for ten rep squats and the feeling was euphoric!

He replaced the bar back into the rack, which remained silent as it sulked in defeat. Joe took a few steps back, then the physical effort of the set caught up with him as his legs buckled, his chest pounded, and he felt dizzy. After walking around the gym to clear his head, Joe returned to the rack where he reduced the weight to 315lbs. Ignoring the desperate suggestions of the rack to skip his remaining sets, he squeezed out 16 reps. He reduced the weight to 295 and ground out 20 reps. Those two sets were physically harder than the set with 375, but mentally they were a breeze. Once you have conquered mental fear and doubt, you barely notice the physical demands that are required. Joe reduced the weight down to 245lbs and performed a set of front squats for 10 reps, then immediately went to 225lbs and squeezed out another 9 reps. When the bar went back on the rack, Joe knew his workout was completed. His legs felt heavy, as if they each weighed 500lbs. He knew that upon waking the following morning, they would be tight and painful and would remain so for at least 2-3 days, the pain being a constant reminder of his victory. Joe showered and changed his clothes, eager to get home to a 16oz T-bone steak with all the trimmings. Maybe he would even give Ashley a call. As he walked out of the gym, he passed the squat rack. Nice workout Joe..but your going to have a tough time doing any better next timeafter such a tough workout you should take a few weeks off from squats Joe smiled and confidently said "I will see you next week"


Keith Wassung
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Old 02-09-2008, 08:55 PM   #10
Skylar Cook
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Re: Very weak dips

Alright, I'm going to admit it. I don't have the attention span to read that novel. I feel like a true American when I get discouraged that there's anything more than three lines of text.

Anyways, I'd advocate GTG and going full ROM no matter what. Cut your numbers down if you have to (or use assistance), but do full ROM.
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