IF you’re strong enough to do bench dips with heavy plates but don’t have a partner, here is an efficient way to load and unload the plates.
I perform bench dips for reps with up to four 35-pound plates on my lap, while my heels are on a stool, legs almost straight (never lock out your knees when doing dips).
Feet are turned out somewhat. I get into this position with no help, and I exit with no help.
First of all, don’t use 45 pound plates. They are too big, and unless you have a thick towel on your lap, they will be uncomfortable pressing against your kneecaps. The 35-pounders will clear the kneecaps.
Set a plate on one side of the bench you’ll be sitting on. Set a stool (or second bench) at the appropriate distance from the bench you’ll be sitting on. Warm up with bodyweight-only dips.
Place feet back on floor and remove plate that’s beside you on the bench and set it on your lap.
Position hands for dipping. Place one heel on the stool, then lift the other leg up and place other heel on stool.
I do seated dips with heels on the stool, rather than the soles of my feet against the edge of the stool. Heels on stool allow me to keep my legs nearly straight.
If you’re using one 35-pounder, getting into position will be easy. After the set, while in the up position of the dip, touch butt to edge of bench, bring one foot to floor, then the other, then get your butt fully back onto the bench.
This is the technique that works for me, and it’s the same technique I use all the way up to four plates.
Multi-Plate Bench Dips
For doing multi-plate bench dips, I set all the weights out after doing my bodyweight-only warm-up dip.
This way, I’m sitting the entire time at the bench through several sets. I’ll have two plates stacked, on either end of the bench, easily within my reach.
You need not remove the single plate off your lap after your first weighted set. Keep it there, rest, then remove a plate from the end of the bench and place atop the one on your lap. Handling the weights this way will engage the core.
With two plates on your lap, you will notice that when that first foot goes up onto the stool, while the second foot is coming up, the hamstring of the first leg will be isometrically engaged.
About that hamstring: If you have, say, 100 pounds on your lap, that support-hamstring’s going to get hit good.
When it’s time for me to dip with the fourth weight plate on, I assist with this entry by pressing my lower back into the bench as I lift up the second leg.
This will be a very stiff maneuver, even if you can hamstring curl the entire weight stack of a hamstring curl machine.
With two plates on your lap, repeat the procedure I described for the single-plate dip. The procedure is the same regardless of how much weight you have on your lap, but with more weight, the technique gets more difficult.
Perform the dips before a mirror to make sure you are doing full range of dipping motion. I dip down to 90-100 degrees elbow flexion.
Several times I have been unable to get up on the last rep of a set with 140 pounds on my lap (6-9 reps).
However, I do not crash to the floor. I simply rest my mid-back against the bench, and elbows on it, heels still on the stool, and take a breather; then I remove my feet from the stool while in this resting position, then get my butt back on the seat.
Removing the feet under these conditions, without spilling the weights to the floor, can be done.
Bench dips with several plates, indeed, can be performed without a partner.