Once an athlete has developed the strength needed to perform a set of bodyweight chest dips, the next step of progression is to perform the weighted chest dip. To do this the athlete needs a dipping/chinning belt, which attaches around the waist and allows the addition of weight plates. You can pick up such belts reasonably cheaply and they are a worthwhile investment.
With the weighted chest dip we are trying to focus the attention on the chest, and therefore it is paramount the exercise is perform with the correct form. The athlete should lean the torso forward during the exercise and allow their arms to flare outward, allowing the chest to become the primary target. If the athlete performs the dip with the torso upright, and arms tucked in close to the torso, the emphasis is shifted from the chest and onto the shoulders and triceps.
If you cannot perform the chest dip with additional weight it would be wise to first look into performing assisted or machine chest dips until the necessary level of strength is developed to perform the free weight version.
The assisted weight dip is a great choice for athletes who wish to benefit from the chest dip exercise, yet do not currently possess the required strength necessary to perform a bodyweight dip. The assisted chest dip works with a counter-weight system, therefore the heavier the weight selected the easier the exercise will be to perform. The athlete can build up strength levels until they can chest dip their own body weight, and then move onto the weighted chest dip variation for further progression.
The chest dip primarily targets the chest muscles; the sternal and clavicular head of the pectoralis major, or otherwise known as the "pecs". In our instructions we describe how the athlete should flare their arms outward during the exercise and lean forward. Performing the exercise with this form is how we successfully target the chest, opposed to the triceps and anterior deltoid.
Whilst we perform the chest dip in this manner to target the chest, the triceps and deltoids do play a role as secondary targets during the exercise.
Chest dips primarily target the two muscle heads of the pectoralis major; the sternal and clavicular head, which are collectively referred to as the "pecs" by most. Although the front of the shoulder (anterior deltoid head) and the triceps do aid the chest during the exercise, their contribution is muted compared to triceps dips where the torso is upright and the upper arms are tucked in close to the body during the movement.
The machine chest dip is a great way for athletes who do not yet possess the strength levels required to perform bodyweight dips to progress until they do. Although it is worth noting that once the athlete begins to use a weight close to their bodyweight they may find the assisted chest dip a better alternative.
Bodybuilders and gym-goers who like to implement drop-sets (a training method in which the athlete performs a set number of repetitions with a given weight, and then reduces the resistance allowing them to perform more repetitions, and so on) into their routine may find the machine chest dip a great tool, due to the ease and speed in which the resistance can be altered.