Weight loss is one of those somewhat touchy subjects in the fitness and health world. We all have an ideal weight, and exceeding our ideal weight is indeed unhealthy, and will be counterproductive to our fitness goals and how we want to look. But before we get into a great set of exercises that can help lose weight, we feel like we need to talk about weight a little bit.
Society has this bad habit of imposing blanket standards for fitness and beauty, and this isn’t news to anyone, it’s been a complaint since the 1960s, when oppressed groups like women, finally began to have a real voice. Took long enough. However, we’re not here for sociological nor ethical debates, we want to get into the science of it – science is impartial.
Human biology is mostly standard across the board in a broad sense. We all have the same organs, the same base body chemistry, same anatomical concerns. However, depending on our heritage, nuances can vary widely. Different base genetic profiles were evolved by different climates and the lifestyles said climates called for in a preindustrial world. Today, most of us come from a grab bag of genetic sources as we celebrate diversity and mingle as humanity, not insular tribes.
This leads to every single person having very unique biochemical, digestive and respirational profiles that impact things like ideal weight. The end result of this is that some people are meant to be muscular looking, some are meant to be “skinny”, others are meant to have a little bit of extra weight or “curve” to them. This is why, before valuating our appearance, and before setting any kind of fitness goals, we should consult a physician and a dietitian to determine what our ideal weight and body fat index actually is, because it certainly isn’t the same even within people closely related.
Remember, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
That said, having seen a doctor and a fitness professional, and determined realistic, healthy weight loss goals for ourselves, let’s understand why exercise burns fat, and what causes the accumulation of fat. Then, we can go into dips understanding why they work in the first place.
Simplifying a lot here, fat is the body’s way of storing energy. In the ancient world, and sadly in places even today, our species often went through periods of abundance and famine, especially before farming and animal husbandry caught on. When there was lots of food, we ate a lot of food, and our bodies evolved to store what we didn’t immediately burn, as fat. During extremely lean periods of time, our bodies would metabolize that fat for both fuel and to convert (to a lesser degree) into protein complexes for repairs and growth.
All mammals can do this actually, which is one of the reasons we’re so dominant on the planet. The problem is that, with the exception of less developed parts of the world, famine and starvation are mercifully rare. Our bodies don’t know this, and it takes thousands of thousands of years for evolution to do its thing. Our bodies still store food as fat, and most of us eat more than we’ll burn in a cycle.
There is something to be said for a leaner diet of low-fat proteins, moderation with starches and sugars, and so on. However, starving ourselves is not only hell, but it’s counterproductive and unhealthy. The body will actually try to hold onto that fat as long as it can if it thinks it’s being starved, and we’ll suffer deficiencies, fatigue, headaches and depression from this approach.
A balanced diet (but not a starving one) should be paired with exercises that actually burn those calories and burn existing fat stores. These exercises also promote muscle growth, which will eat into those fat reserves as well, unless you overdo it on protein supplements – don’t do that until you’re at your ideal body weight.
Dips, which use gravity and your own weight as major elements in a workout, are excellent for burning body fat and inducing weight loss, while usually being very safe and not requiring ridiculous equipment.
The Dip Station
There does exist a basic piece of equipment to perform dips – a dip station. Some multi-mode exercise equipment offers these components as well. All you really need is two vertical bars tall enough to lift yourself off the ground, and grips at the end, though. Thus, most dip exercises can be performed with makeshift things like benches, existing architecture, etc. You’ll see this being very evident as we go over five styles of dips, and how they can build muscle and help you lose excess weight.
Chest dips are the ones where an actual dip station is most helpful, but you can find ways to make this work with other elements in your environment, just remember that your posture is very important with this one, especially the angle of your grip or palms.
This is all about the chest and abdominal muscle development, which will also help to burn away flab that loves to accumulate in these areas more than just about anywhere else.
To perform this, hold your upper body facing outward, palms down, legs crossed. Bend your elbows backward, and bend at the waist slightly, lifting your legs up as you dip downward. This will work your chest, shoulder and upper arm muscles. Try to keep these motions as smooth as possible.
This is the other one best served by a dip station, though I’ve used two tables for it without any real problem though gripping bars does make it a bit more effective. Isometric dips target multiple muscle groups, which is excellent for accelerated tone, but also for weight loss via building that tone.
This is not a complex exercise – suspend yourself with your arms extended outward. Lower yourself bending at the elbows and shoulder until your arms are parallel to the floor, and hold the pose for six to ten seconds, give or take. Your legs should cross and bend up at the knees so that your lower legs are mostly parallel to the floor as well.
You definitely don’t need a dip station for tricep dips, which, as the name would suggest, attack the triceps as the primary muscle group, but also provide secondary workouts to the abdomen, biceps, and chest. These are the second easiest ones.
Sit on a bench (I use my couch), and slide forward so that your bottom is about a foot off the floor, your legs are outstretched, and all of your weight is held by your heels and your arms. Your arms should be behind you, bent at the shoulders, your forearms vertical, palms downward. This would create a more or less 90-degree angle bend to your arms, give or take.
A caveat with this one is to keep your back close to the bench, don’t slide out too much, and keep your back vertical.
For beginners or those with medical conditions, assisted dips are a good starting point, and if you combine them with weights (we’ll get to that in a moment), they can work multiple muscle groups, and you can just stick with these if other dips are too demanding for various reasons.
These dips place you on your knees, legs crossed or not crossed so that they support some of your weight. This actually can provide some leg workout on top of the upper body, and depending on motion, they can also work your glutes, providing a wide-spread attack on fat and on muscle groups. Any of the tips discussed here can be modified to include leg assists, just be careful.
This is another case of being a modification of any other type of dip and involves strapping weight to yourself. This is great for getting more out of assist-modified dips for people who can’t do unassisted dips (there’s no shame in knowing your limits), or in adding challenge to dips for those who’ve surpassed entry-level with things.
R that you don’t need massive weight for this modification – even ripped athletes really don’t hit the triple digits with weighted dips, because it doesn’t matter how swole you are, the body has weak points and can break easily if one is foolish.
Conclusion and Caution
Dips are a great way to target problem areas of the body where fat likes to accumulate – it loves our midsection, our chest and our posterior, which dips attack effectively. You can also begin building muscle this way while fighting the weight problem, accelerating your entire fitness process in a safe way.
However, consult your physician before attempting these, as joint and heart problems make these potentially risky. To learn more ways to fight the fat and build muscle, follow us on Facebook today!