Video Demonstration

If you find regular dips on bars or gymnastics rings to be difficult, you’re not alone. Dips are hard – especially on rings – and many people can’t do a single one.

But take heart, because many gyms have a particular machine (called an assisted chest dip machine) that will provide some lift and effectively reduce your body weight.

It’s much better to use this machine than try to do body weight dips that are beyond your abilities. You’ll inevitably end up using poor form and risk getting injured.

However, before explaining the specifics of how to do an assisted chest dip, it’s worth noting that the exercise has one significant limitation: with regular dips, you can lean forward to place more emphasis on the chest, or stay more upright to emphasize the triceps.

However, most assisted chest dip machines keep you more or less upright, which means they have less flexibility and aren’t the best machine to use for targeting the pecs.

That said, you can lead forward a bit, and you should do so to maximize the effect on your chest.

Also, remember that unlike with most machines, using more weight actually makes this exercise easier. This is because the weight you select is used to counterbalance your body weight.

So, if you weigh 180 pounds and choose 100 pounds of weight, you’ll only be lifting 80 pounds. If you choose 150 pounds, you’ll be lifting 30.

Let’s jump into the details of this exercise.

Assisted Chest Dip Starting position:

  • Slide the pin onto the weight you wish to use (more weight makes it easier).
  • Rotate the handle bars to the outside position if possible (very important). This targets the chest.
  • Lower the pad on which you’ll be kneeling and lock it in place.
  • Kneel on the pad with your knees slightly behind your hips and your chest a little forward.

Performing the Assisted Chest Dip:

  1. With elbows and shoulders bent, lower your body slowly and smoothly until your upper arms are parallel to the floor – not lower, to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your shoulders.
  2. Return to the position you started from by reversing the movement, again slowly and smoothly.
  3. When you’ve finished your reps, step onto the foot plates on the sides of the machine one foot at a time, keeping your second knee on the pad (to hold it down) until your first foot is securely on the plate.

Things To Keep In Mind:

  • When you descend, your torso will naturally lean forward a bit.
  • Although your triceps will do much of the work, you can emphasize your chest a bit more by flaring out your elbows.
  • Press your hands into the bars when you extend your arms to return to the starting position.
  • Keep your chin up and eyes forward for stability.
  • Using a full range of motion will normally produce the best results, but be careful if you have preexisting problems with your elbows, shoulders, or lower back. If that’s the case, stop just before you experience pain. If you can’t do the exercise at all without pain, do another exercise.
  • This exercise is best performed after pressing exercises like bench presses but before chest flyes.
  • Some machines allow you to do dips in a seated position. With these machines, it’s important to lean forward so that your chest muscles do some of the work.
  • Other exercises that also work the triceps and lower chest include the decline barbell bench press, decline dumbbell bench press, and bodyweight chest dip.

Final Thoughts on the Assisted Chest Dip

The assisted chest dip primarily works your chest (pectoralis major and minor), shoulders (deltoids), and triceps.

It also has some benefit for your serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, and subscapularis muscles.

Once you’re strong enough to do body weight dips, I highly recommend you stop using the assisted chest dip machine.

The reason for this is that you will continue getting stronger using your bodyweight.

As your strength increases, you can use a weight belt to increase the intensity. This is important since weighted tricep dips are one of the best exercises for the upper body.