Chair Dips: How To Do Them In Varying Degrees Of Difficulty

Alexis demonstrates how to do chair dips the right way.

Chair Dips Youtube Video


Hey everyone, today we are going to look at how to perform chair dips. This is a great exercise for the upper body, and along with push-ups and dips, are the most productive ways to develop both a firmer and larger chest, as well as get great triceps and shoulder development as well. All without any form of purchased equipment.

Watch the video first for a real life demonstration of how to do this exercise, performed by Alexis, and then read on for some more in-depth instruction. It is of vital importance that you always use perfect form for all of your workouts, never try to take any short-cuts. That way lies injury and little in the way of progression.

Chair Dips For Beginners


how to do chair dips

If you are new to an exercise program, or still have very little upper body strength then performing the easiest form of chair dips is going to allow you to build up your strength pretty quickly.Also if you have a lot of weight to lose then you may find that you need to perform this exercise whilst you lose the weight, it will make a huge difference to how well you do.

  • Place your hands at shoulder width on the edge of the chair, palms down
  • Bend at the knees and move your lower body forward so it is just in front of the chair
  • With your chest up, stomach tight, and shoulders down, lower until your upper arms are parallel to the floor
  • With a deep breath out push up with your arms to the starting position
  • Then with a deep breath out repeat and lower steadily

Perform for 8-12 reps for 3-5 sets.

If you struggle even with this simple approach, either because of excess weight or because you are new to training, then give yourself a little helping had by also pushing up with your legs. This will make the exercise a lot simpler.

You should be able to master chair dips for beginners relatively easily, then it is time to move on to a slightly more difficult version.

Getting Harder

If you want to get toned then resistance training for women and men needs to be progressive. And this means making the loads heavier or the exercise harder in some other way. So as soon as you possibly can you should be moving on up to make your dips a little bit tougher.

You perform this intermediate exercise with the same basic form as the easy option but you extend your legs out directly in front of you. Or you can do this in stages, bending them less and less as you become stronger and more used to the movement.

Within a few weeks you should then be onto  the final stage of doing dips with chairs, where you now have your legs elevated to the same height as your hands.

Making Chair Dips Tough

For this you will need two chairs of the same height.

You should make it your goal to be able to perform at least 3-5 sets of these for 12 reps. When you can then it should translate to being able to perform full push-ups, and then you can move onto the most beneficial way to develop your chest, triceps and shoulders, the mighty dip. Be aware though, that your body weight is going to greatly effect how well you can do this harder version, so be sure to follow our weight loss plan as well as doing your training regularly.

But great development and a dramatic change to how you look can be achieved just by becoming proficient in chair dips and push-ups, for women at least. Men should all be able to perform full dips for multiple sets and reps, and with added weight. But we all have to start somewhere, and the chair dip and push-ups are the answer. On a side note don’t ever get disheartened if things seem tough to begin with. You will build up very quickly, and in a few months you will be amazed at how easy movements are that you once thought impossible.

  • Space 2 chairs out so that when you rest your palms on the edge of one you extend your legs out and rest your heels on the opposing chair
  • Ensure that your form is perfect. High chest, shoulders down, tighten your abs and keep your back perfectly straight.
  • Deep breath in and lower your body
  • Never go lower than with your upper arms being parallel to the floor. It is asking for shoulder injuries
  • With no bounce at the bottom breathe out and push up with your upper body back to the starting position
  • Repeat for reps

If you find this a little tough to begin with, or maybe cannot complete more than a set or so like this, then make it a little easier by resting more of your lower body on the chair. It takes some of the weight off and allows you to keep progressing.

Moving On From Chair Dips

Once the above is mastered you should find that you are now able to perform push-ups. And once you begin to get successful at those then you should look to finding a way to do full dips on bars.

Progression in your training is the name of the game. It is the only way to keep your muscles growing and to keep getting stronger. But it all begins somewhere, so perform your routines in a way that means you can complete them, and next time try to make them just that little bit more difficult. Either by adding more reps or sets, or by increasing the load you are using.

Progression is how you get bigger, more toned, and look leaner and stronger. If all you do is repeat what you have done before there is not enough stimulus to grow.

Let us know how you get on, and how quickly you can progress from one style of training to the next.

p.s You know what to do now right? Yep, get up of your chair and use it for something other than just sitting on!

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