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What is the gap between dip bars?

Dip bars, also known as parallel bars, are a popular piece of fitness equipment used for triceps dips and other exercises that target the arms, chest, shoulders and back. They consist of two parallel steel or aluminum bars supported on a stand at adjustable heights. When doing dips, the user supports their bodyweight between the bars on straightened arms and dips down until the elbows are bent at about 90 degrees, then pushes back up. The gap or distance between the bars is an important factor for comfortable and safe use.

Standard Dip Bar Width

The standard or average distance between commercial gym dip bars is approximately 18 – 24 inches (45.7 – 61 cm). This allows most users to comfortably support their body in the dip position while leaving enough room to freely bend the elbows without the bars hitting the arms on the way down. A gap of around shoulder width or slightly wider accommodates different body sizes and arm spans. Here are some key points on standard dip bar width:

  • Allows a natural shoulder-width hand placement for dipping movement
  • Enables full range of motion in the shoulders and elbows
  • Accommodates taller and shorter users of varying builds
  • Prevents crowding which could result in loss of balance or support
  • Provides stability when lifting bodyweight between the bars

The most common standard widths manufactured are between 18 to 24 inches. This medium width suits most casual gym-goers looking to build arm and chest strength.

Wider Gap Dip Bars

Some dip stations feature a wider gap exceeding 24 inches between the bars. A wider spacing may measure around 26 – 30 inches (66 – 76 cm) across. Reasons for having a wider dip bar setup include:

  • Allows extra room for very broad-shouldered or heavily muscled individuals
  • Prevents crowding for larger users over 200 lbs bodyweight
  • Accommodates lifters who prefer a very wide hand placement for dips
  • Enables weighted dips with dip belt worn around the waist
  • Provides more space to lean forward and target the chest muscles

However, most casual exercisers do not require the extra width. Very wide bars beyond shoulder width can also increase shoulder strain and injury risk. A gap over 30 inches may be excessive for safe dipping for general users.

Narrower Gap Dip Bars

On the other end of the spectrum, some dip stations have a narrower width under 18 inches between bars. Reasons for a narrower dip bar gap include:

  • Accommodates shorter or petite users like women and teenagers
  • Fits smaller home gyms with space limitations
  • Enables a closer hand placement to target triceps
  • Provides stabilization and support for beginners
  • Prevents shoulder overstretching for those rehabbing injuries

However, most males and taller women require more space between bars for comfortable dipping. Narrow gaps under 14 – 16 inches can overly limit range of motion. Shoulder width or slightly wider is ideal for most users.

Adjustable Width Dip Bars

To accommodate a wider range of users, many dip stations feature adjustable width bars. These allow the gap between bars to be set from narrow to wider widths:

  • Accommodates all body sizes and shapes
  • Enables custom hand placement for targeting muscles
  • Allows width to be increased for weighted dips
  • Width can be reduced to increase difficulty
  • Offers flexibility as user’s fitness level increases

Adjustable dip bars allow the gap to be tailored from around 16 – 30 inches. The ability to widen or narrow the space makes them highly versatile for gyms, homes, and varying builds of users.

Choosing the Best Dip Bar Width

The right dip bar width for you depends on your body size, dipping style, and goals. Follow these tips when selecting dip bars or determining bar spacing:

  • Measure shoulder width – Bars spaced near this width feel most natural
  • Add 2-4 inches for comfortable range of motion
  • Consider adding weight training – Wider bars accommodate dip belts
  • Pay attention to hand placement – Wider for chest, narrower for tris
  • Test different widths if new to dipping
  • Err on the side of wider bars if uncertain
  • Ensure bars are not so wide that shoulders rotate or strain

Adjustable width dip handles offer the most flexibility. But bars spaced 18 – 24 inches will suit most casual gym-goers looking to build upper body strength.

Standard Dip Bar Height

In addition to gap width, proper bar height is also key for comfortable and effective dipping. Standard dip bar height is usually adjustable from around 48 – 60 inches (122 – 152 cm) above floor level. Here are some benefits of a dip bar height in this range:

  • Does not require jumping or excessive bending of legs to mount bars
  • Allows user to maintain upright torso alignment during dip
  • Enables full range of motion in shoulders without bottoming out
  • Avoids cramping or straining neck/shoulders to look forward
  • Maintains stability when lowering and lifting body between bars

Bars set too low below hip height can limit dip range and torque the shoulders. Bars set too high can also instabilize the body. Adjustability accommodates more heights.

Dip Bar Standards by User Height

As a general guideline, bar height standards based on the user’s height are:

User Height Standard Dip Bar Height
5’0″ – 5’3″ (152 – 160 cm) 48 – 52 inches (122 – 132 cm)
5’4″ – 5’7″ (163 – 170 cm) 50 – 54 inches (127 – 137 cm)
5’8″ – 5’11” (173 – 180 cm) 52 – 56 inches (132 – 142 cm)
6’0″ – 6’3″ (183 – 191 cm) 54 – 60 inches (137 – 152 cm)
6’4″ and over (193+ cm) 60+ inches (152+ cm)

These heights suit most users for comfortable dipping position and range. Significantly taller users may require bars over 60 inches.

Choosing the Best Dip Bar Height

To choose the optimal dip bar height for you:

  • Measure your height and reference standard bar heights
  • Bar height should not require jumping to mount
  • HEIGHT + 4-6 inches enables comfortable dip range of motion
  • Ensure torso can stay upright without excessive bending
  • Avoid heights forcing chin to tuck or neck to crane upwards
  • Adjust higher as fitness level increases
  • Test different heights to find optimal fit if new to dip bars

Adjustable height dip bars allow you to customize setup as needed. But the standard 48 to 60 inch range suits most casual exercisers.


In summary, the ideal gap between dip bars is usually 18 – 24 inches to accommodate most shoulder widths and body sizes. Adjustable width dip handles allow customization from around 16 – 30 inches for different users and goals. Standard height for the bars themselves falls between 48 – 60 inches based on the user’s height, enabling comfortable positioning. Adjusting the width and height of dip bars to match your body and fitness level allows you to perform dips safely and effectively.