Fixing Shoulder Pain During Dips

‘It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.’

– Julius Caesar

Fixing Shoulder Pain During Dips

Pat Casey – the first man to bench press 600 lbs; image via:;

Dips may be a very effective upper body exercise but often they cause a lot of shoulder pain to the practitioner.

To minimize the potential of experiencing shoulder pain during dips you need to:

– reduce your range of motion to parallel or slightly below;

There’s no need to go super deep when you do dips. Most people get passionated and dip down too low.

If you have the flexibility, you may be fine but very few actually can handle ultra deep dips.

– stick to high reps instead of adding a lot of weight and doing 3-5 reps;

There’s no need to max out on exercises such as the dip. What are you going to get out of it?

Doing heavy single and triples may test your strength but it does not build it. Stick to high rep sets to avoid unwanted pain.

– progress methodically and patiently;

In general, dips progress relatively fast. However, you first need to build a base before moving to advanced variations or adding weight.

The U.S. strength coach Bill Starr advises people to add weight to the dip after they can do 3×20 with just their bodyweight.

– give enough time to your body to recover in between sessions;

Obviously, if you are doing a lot of dips too frequently your shoulders won’t have enough time to recover. When you plan your workouts listen to your body’s feedback.

– don’t do wide grip and Vince Gironda style dips;

Doing wide grip dips will kill your shoulder in no time. Gymnasts may be able to do it but they’ve been training since babies and have the needed flexibility.

– avoid bench dips completely;

Bench dips are shoulder destroyers and are in fact more shoulder unfriendly than the parallel bar dip.

– work on your active shoulder flexibility;

You can do a variety of shoulder mobility exercises to improve the active flexibility of the shoulder girdle. You can include some of those exercises as part of your warm-up.

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