Major Muscles and Actions Involved

Variant 1: Neutral grip
Flexion occurs in the shoulder joint, which involves the anterior deltoid, the pectoralis major (upper portion), and the coracobrachialis. In this action the upper arm moves from a position behind the trunk to a position alongside the body. In the shoulder girdle the muscles involved are the pectoralis minor and the rhomboid in downward rotation of the scapulae. In addition, the scapulae move downward in a straight line from the pull of the lower trapezius and pectoralis minor. Extension occurs in the elbow joint, in which the upper arms move up and away from the forearms as the elbows come closer to the body.

Variant 2: Pronated grip
In the shoulder joint the latissimus dorsi, teres major, and lower pectoralis major are involved in adduction. In this action the upper arms move in toward the sides of the body from an up and out to the side position. In the shoulder girdle and elbow joints, the muscles and actions are the same as in Variant 1.

Muscles in Action

Bar Dips

Sports Uses

The muscles and actions involved in the dip are needed in many sports that require raising your body when your arms are shoulder level or slightly below. They are also used in all sports that require moving your arms up and forward from behind your body or down to your sides from an upward position. Many of these actions are used in gymnastics in the execution of stunts, in free exercise, and on the parallel bars, rings, and other apparatus.

Important Facts to Know

  1. With a regular (neutral) grip and the bars shoulder-width apart, the triceps is heavily stressed. However, when your hands are more than shoulder-width apart, more emphasis is placed on your shoulder joint muscles (latissimus dorsi, pectoralis major, and teres major), regardless of grip.
  2. Very heavy weights are not recommended for proper execution of the bar dip. The value of this exercise lies in the strength developed in the full range of motion in the shoulder and elbow joints. When very heavy weights are used, you will find yourself decreasing the bottom range of motion.