Reverse grip dips are not an exercise you’ll see regularly practised on the gym floor. They can be awkward to set up, hurt the joints and elicit confused stares from others. Problem is, they’re quite an effective way to hit the chest and triceps. The creation of Vince Gironda, reverse grip dips were supposedly a favourite of both the Iron Guru and his most famous protege Larry Scott. So in today’s short post I thought we’d examine the lift itself, its history and how to implement it into your own training programme.
If nothing else the exercise highlights Gironda’s never-ending quest to find new and effective means of targeting the muscles. It was this curiosity which fuelled his genius.
Reverse Grip Dips
Given the relatively straightforward name, the description of reverse grip dips perhaps needs little explaining. Unlike regular dips, in which the the forearms are pointed inward, reverse grip dips are performed with the forearms facing outward and the knuckles facing the upper body. Aware that I’ve most likely butchered the English language, I’ll allow Paul Becker’s video illustrate the movement clearly
In my early twenties, I was quite a keen advocate of Gironda’s various exercise tweaks such as the neck press or sissy squat. So being young and seemingly invincible I did reverse grip dips on a regular basis with a somewhat reckless abandon. Nowadays my elbows and shoulder prevent over enthusiastic arm workouts but I have found the following points useful when performing reverse grip dips.
- As in the Becker video, try and use dipping bars which are slightly angled outward
- Use a slow tempo (not excessively slow but certainly no bouncing)
- This one is personal preference but I found tucking my chin into my chest and slightly curving the upper back helps isolate the chest more – this was also a tip picked up from Gironda
With the above tips in mind I usually incorporate reverse grip dips at the end of a workout, using a slow tempo for moderate reps. This is of course predicated on my elbows not feeling like brittle.
With a lot of Gironda’s exercises, the inevitable question is why bother? Why, for instance, should you bother with neck presses when incline bench press works the pecs in a similar manner? For me, its always a question of variety and efficiency. Many of Vince’s exercises were worthwhile because they were premised on isolating the muscles. Reverse grip dips are no exception. Made famous by Larry Scott, reverse grip dips are an interesting way of mixing up your chest or arm training and hitting the muscles from a different angle.
In much the same way that the reverse grip bench press makes a familiar exercise seem entirely new, reverse grip dips have always been a refreshing switch up in my training.
For those interested in learning more about the exercise, the below bulletin by Alan Palmieri is fascinating and deals with Vince’s overall training philosophies.
Have you tried reverse grip dips? Are your elbows as weak as mine or did you hold up okay? Let us know in the comments below.
As always … Happy Lifting!
I used to do these reverse grip dips 40 years ago. Today my shoulders are trashed(not from dips) so I cannot do them. However my arms were huge and defined back then. No one else in my gym was able to do them . I could pump em off no problem and even made bets with bigger guys and was able to always win. Sometimes they couldnt even do one. LOL
Hey Chris! Glad to have you stop by and sorry to hear about your shoulders. This exercise is just wonderful isn’t it? Funnily we used to do similar contests in my old gym!