Ever thought you could work your back, chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders and core—pretty much everything in your entire upper body—all with one exercise? Now you can with the one-arm chin-dip, a combination of a one-arm chinup and a one-arm dip performed simultaneously.
You’ll receive the tremendous up-front benefits of both exercises, such as the increased muscle activation you get from performing closed-chain movements (those that move your body through space rather than the weight) and a few surprising strength-related bonuses as well.
1) Contralateral antagonistic neuromuscular activation. That’s a complicated way of saying that when you work one muscle, your nervous system actually activates and potentiates the fibers of the opposing muscle on the opposite side of your body.
For example, if you work the biceps on your left arm, the triceps on your right arm can be up to 10 percent stronger if you work it at the same time and with the same tempo. For example,there’s an exercise called “scapjacks” that involves a one-arm pushdown and a dumbbell curl done at the same time.
The practical upshot is, by performing a dip (hitting chest and triceps) and a chinup (hitting back and biceps) simultaneously, you become stronger at both. In addition, due to the nature of the exercise, you’re forced to do both moves at the exact same tempo, guaranteeing an increase in strength.
2) One movement is always stronger than the other. The result is that when you start to fatigue on one of the movements (usually the chins), the other, stronger movement (the dips) will help you push that weaker movement harder.
Conversely, as you fatigue in the weaker movement, it will put more load on the stronger movement, working it harder as well.
It’s going to force you to push your entire upper body to the limit.
In addition to those two major benefits, push-dips also hit the core with direct cross-tension due to their simultaneous push/pull nature.
And, of course, they’re a lot of fun—not only doing them but also watching the looks on other people’s faces as you do it!
How to Set Up and Perform
You should be able to perform at least eight to 10 chins and 20-plus bodyweight dips before trying this one. It’s not an easy exercise and does require some base strength to start with.
You’ll need a power rack with a chinup bar and an Olympic bar. If your rack doesn’t have a chinup bar, you can just set another Olympic bar on top of the rack and chin with that.
Set the safety rails in the rack to about chest height and set the bar on them in the middle of the rack. There will be some adjustments required for your rack, your height and your limb length, so definitely play around with the setup to see what’s best for you.
Reach up and grab the chinup bar with a neutral grip. Set your other hand on the bar in the rack a little back from your chinning hand. Take your feet off the ground.
Now do a chin with one arm and a dip with the other. It feels very strange when you do it for the first time—a feeling I think you’re really going to like.
Perform as many reps as you can. As your weaker exercise fades out, the stronger exercise will kick in to help, allowing you to push yourself hard.
You can then either turn around and work in the other direction immediately, or take a rest and do that on the next set.
As you get stronger at these, you can add additional resistance in the form a weight belt or dumbbell between the feet to push your entire upper body even harder.
So if you’ve been looking for an exercise to target your entire upper body all at once—back, chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders and core—look no further. This is it.
Editor’s note: To get a copy of Nick’s Muscle Explosion—28 Days to Maximum Mass, visit his Web site, www.28DayMuscleExplosion.com.