When Should I Add Weight To Chin-ups And Dips? You can't build the first floor without foundation.

One of the most popular ways to make chin-ups/pull-ups and dips harder is to do them with added weight. This can be done with the help of a dipping belt, backpack, weight vest…etc.

Performing dips and pull-ups with extra weight grants a possibility for infinite progression and you can build some serious pulling and pushing strength. Questions is, when are you supposed to add weight to your chin-ups and dips?

You can’t build the first floor without foundation.


You can’t have a stable first floor without stable foundation. Adding weight to your chin-ups/pull-ups, dips or any bodyweight exercise for that matter will result in early “stalling” and injuries such as tendinitis.  In order to avoid complication the joints must be conditioned to handle the work. How do you do that?

Before adding weight to your dips and chins you first need to complete the following:

3 sets of 20 dips;
3 sets of 15  pull-ups;

Note: Rest between sets is up to you. You can rest 5 hours, if you want to. Make sure the sets are done on the same day though.

If you can do the above numbers with full range and overall good form, you are free to add weight.

To some those numbers may appear to be insane, but it really helps in the long run. The higher number of reps will reinforce proper mechanics which is very helpful for beginners who are still trying to find their “groove”.

Technically, you can add weight to your pull-ups/chin-ups and dips even if you can only do 5 reps.

I’ve even heard of people adding weight once they were able to do just a single pull-up. Here’s what one guy wrote on the forum of Starting Strength:

“Add weight as soon as its possible, if you really want to get strong at dipping. Doesn’t matter if you add weight and do only low rep sets. Add weight. For instance years ago I had a terrible time doing even 1 chin.

So I started adding weight doing just 1 chin. After quite a few months I was doing 10 sets of 1 chin with 100lbs around my waist. After that I was able to perform fairly high rep sets. The same thing will work with dips, especially since you are able to do more than the one rep I was limited to. {more}”

This method may work for some, but the better approach would be to rely on solid foundation.

If a beginner uses similar approach without having established the proper motor ways and mechanics required to do pull-ups and dips, the problem is only going to get bigger and bigger as more and more weight is being added. At a certain point a critical moment will be reached. As they say:

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FAQ:

Why is the requirement for dips 3 x 20 and only 3 x 15 for pull-ups?

Because mechanically wise dips are the more stressful exercise. They put significant stress on the shoulders and it’s better to prepare the body with even more reps. On the other hand the pull-up, especially when done on rings, is more natural and places less stress on vulnerable places.

Also, if are focusing on your dips and pull-ups simultaneously, you are going to be doing more dips than pull-ups because the stretch reflex is more pronounced. The dip is also an exercise with a shorter range of motion. By the time you can do 15 pulls-ups, you will be able to perform more than 15 dips.

However, those numbers are not set in stone. They are just a guideline that can help you in your preparation for the wonderful love/hate coming from heavy dips and pull-ups.

Can I reach my genetic potential by just doing weighted dips and pull-ups?

Yes, because both exercises are compound and allow for infinite progression by adding weight. Pull-ups and dips will build a strong and muscular upper body.

How long will it take for me to reach those numbers?

It depends on a lot of factors. If you are really overweight, you will first need to lose weight before expecting miracles. Once you are in condition to begin you can go from 1 to 15 pull-ups comfortably in less than a year. However, it will be harder for girls.

Related article: How To Build A Strong Upper Body As A Girl

If you are someone who can already do a few pull-ups, you will need no more than 6 – 8 months, provided that you follow a consistent and dedicated approach.

Will there be a visual difference when I can do 20 dips?

Yes. Going from 1 dip to 20 for 3 sets will build some muscle and there will be visual difference. Of course, don’t expect miracles but without a doubt you will appear more muscular.

Why not increase the numbers even further? 40 dips and 35 pull-ups?

Technically, you could but it’s not really needed. The goal is just to become proficient. If you keep going, however, you will find yourself at the point of diminishing returns.

Who’s more prepared to do weighted chin-ups? The guy that can do 15 reps or the guy that can do 25 reps? They both are.

Like everything in life, the more you have of something – the less you value it. This is called inflation. The more money there is in circulation, the less valuable it becomes. The minute something becomes a deficit, its prices goes up.

It’s the same with dips and pull-ups. After a certain point the numbers are just that – numbers.

Whether you want it or not, at one point comes a time when you need to move on to bigger and better things. Well, maybe not bigger – just better.

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