The free hanging dip exercise is an excellent exercise for stimulating the push muscles of the upper body, namely the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Just as with the bench press, there is scope for shifting emphasis onto either the chest or the triceps via a change in form during the execution of the lift.
Performing the chest dip with the upper arms flared outwards away from the torso, whilst leaning the torso forwards, results in greater stress to the chest during the exercise, whilst minimising triceps involvement. If the chest dip is being performed to target the chest then this form should be followed. To shift stress away from the chest and onto the triceps tuck the upper arms into the side of the torso whilst executing the dip, and ensure the torso remains upright. This form could be followed when exercising the triceps, and implementing into an arm workout.
The free hanging dip using bodyweight not be suitable for everyone, with beginners often lagging the level of strength needed to perform the required number of repetitions. There are a number of options available for those who lack the sufficient strength required. The first option is to use a dipping machine if there is such a machine located at your gym. The dipping machine allows for progression with an incremental weight stack, providing the trainer with a means of working up to their own bodyweight. Once the machine dip can be performed with the equivalent bodyweight then the switch can be made to the free hanging dips. Another possibility is the use of negative repetitions. This would involve only performing the lowering phrase of the dip in a slow and controlled manner using bodyweight, whilst not performing the ascending phrase. Negative can drastically improve strength.
The dip is a compound exercise which is suitable for relatively low repetitions. Strength gains can be made with a repetition range below eight repetitions. Those who seek gains in muscle strength would likely advance best with a repetition range between eight and twelve per set. Repetitions higher than twelve will aid in muscle endurance.