Assisted Chest Dip

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Assisted Chest Dip (Machine Dip)

Most people find dips extremely difficult, with good reason—they are. If you can’t perform a chest dip on your own, you may use an assisted chest dip machine. But since most dip machines restrict torso motion, they tend to target the triceps more than the chest. Keep in mind that the position of your torso affects the focus of the exercise. A slight forward tilt is better for targeting the pectorals, and the more you bend forward the harder you work the pectorals. An upright posture shifts the focus to the triceps.

Also, keep in mind that adding weights makes this exercise easier because they counterbalance your body weight. In other words, deciding which plate to put the pin in can be confusing because you follow the exact opposite rule of every other exercise. You choose more plates if you want the exercise to be easier and fewer plates if you want the exercise to be harder. The more plates you select, the more your weight is counterbalanced during the exercise. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds and you place the pin in the plate marked 100, you have to lift only 50 pounds of your body weight. But if you put the pin into the plate marked 50, you have to lift 100 pounds.

Assisted Chest Dip (Machine Dip) Exercise Instructions

STARTING (INITIAL POSITION): Select the appropriate resistance on the weight stack. Rotate the lower bar handles inward. Lower the knee pad and lock it into place if assistance is desired. Stand on the foot plates and grip the lower bar handles. Place the knees on the pad while stepping off the foot plates. Your knees should be slightly behind your hips and your chest slightly in front of them.

Assisted Chest Dips

MOVEMENT (ACTION): Bend at the elbows and shoulders to lower the body in a controlled and smooth fashion until the upper arm is horizontal. Return to the starting position, following the same path for the downward movement. When finished, remove one knee from the pad while it is the down position and step onto the foot plate. Remove the second knee when the pad gets near the top position.

Additional Tips & Exercise Key Points

  • Look for your torso to lean forwards as you descend.
  • Flare your elbows out  to your sides as you descend to maximize pectoral isolation.
  • Lower your body until down until your upper arms are about parallel to the floor.
  • Press your hands into the bars to extend your arms and raise your body back up.
  • Stabilise by keeping your chin up and your eyes looking directly forwards.
  • Use caution if you have elbow, shoulder, or lower back problems.
  • Like most weight-training exercises, the fuller the range of motion the better, so the lower you stretch, the more muscle groups become involved. But bodybuilders who experience shoulder and elbow pain when they dip should try experimenting with different dipping depths and stopping just short of the range that gives you pain. If there’s pain before or just as you bend at the elbows then you should avoid the exercise.
  • Perform this exercise after pressing chest exercise but before fly movements.

Muscles Involved

The assisted chest dip (machine dip) primarily works your chest muscles with a lot of emphasis on your shoulders and triceps, too.

  • Main muscles: pectoralis major (lower part), triceps, deltoids (anterior), pectoralis minor
  • Secondary muscles: serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, subscapularis
  • Antagonists: latissimus dorsi, biceps, deltoids (posterior), trapezius

Exercise Variations

  • Seated dip machine. A similar exercise involves a seated dip machine, which many gyms have. But be sure to lean forward (instead of sitting back against the pad) to emphasize the pectorals, not the triceps.

Seated dip machine

Replacement Exercise

You can replace assisted chest dip with any other pressing lower chest exercises.

Putting It Together

Dips are one of the best exercises for your chest and upper body that money can buy. If you can’t do even one, don’t despair. You can perform a chest dip on dip bars or on a level chest-dip machine, the latter being more suited for beginners. Nowadays, most well-equipped gyms have an assisted dip machine that helps you by pushing up as you stand on a platform. Better to use the help than to use bad form with your full body weight. So if you are not yet strong enough to perform a chest dip on parallel bars (using your own bodyweight), use an assisted dip machine. Simply place your feet on the moving platform of the machine, and perform the same movement used in the traditional chest dip. Dips done vertically, with elbows in, work triceps. Dips done leaning forward, with elbows out, work chest.

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