- Challenge Your Triceps With Dips
- How To Do A Triceps Dip—Form Tips, Benefits, Variations
- Benefits Of The Triceps Dip
- How To Do A Triceps Dip
- Variations On The Triceps Dip
- How To Work The Triceps Dip In To Your Routine
- Exercise Of The Week: Dips
- Basic Exercise Data For Dips
- Variations Of Dips: Chest & Triceps
- Muscles Worked With Chest Dips
- Muscles Worked With Triceps Dips
- When Bodyweight Is Not Enough
- When Bodyweight Is Too Much
- Incorporating Dips Into Your Training
- Alternatives To Performing Dips
- How To Do Tricep Dips
- Use the links below to quickly navigate this guide:
- What Muscles Do Tricep Dips Work?
- Benefits of Tricep Dips
- Strengthens Triceps
- Strengthens Biceps
- Improves Core Strength and Stability
- How Many Calories Does a Tricep Dip Burn?
- Other Exercises Similar to Tricep Dips
- Incorporating Tricep Dips Into Your Workouts
- Use Tricep Dip In An Upper Body Challenge
- Use Tricep Dips In Your Full Body Strength Workout
- Use Tricep Dip In An AMRAP Workout
- Chair Dips: How to Do and Muscles Worked
- Tips for proper form
- For beginners
- More advanced
- Bench dip
- If you’re pregnant
- Triangle pushup
- Dumbbell tricep kickbacks
- Overhead triceps extension
- How To Do Triceps Dips
- Triceps Dips Form Tips
- Triceps Dips Variations
- 1. Bench dip with knees bent
- 2. Bench dip with legs straight
- 3. Bench dip with legs raised
- 4. Parallel bars dip
- 5. Parallel bars dip with weights
- Tricep Dips to Build Arm Strength and Size
- Two Types of Tricep Dips
- #1 Tricep Dips on a Bench for a Great Tricep Workout
- Muscles Worked With Bench Dips
- Performing Bench Dips
- #2 Tricep Dips (on parallel bars)
- Muscles Worked With Parallel Bar Dips
- Performing Tricep Dips on Parallel Bars
- Avoiding Injury When Performing Tricep Dips
Challenge Your Triceps With Dips
Verywell / Ben Goldstein
Equipment Needed: Chair or bench
The triceps dip exercise is a great bodyweight exercise that builds arm and shoulder strength. This simple exercise can be done almost anywhere and has many variations to match your fitness level. Use it as part of an upper body strength workout.
The triceps dip is one of the most effective exercises for activating the triceps muscles in your upper arm. Additionally, you must activate your core as you hold your hips off the ground.
The triceps are used for pushing, and you will engage them in any daily activities that require pushing. As well, you want to keep your body in balance.
If you participate in sports that use a lot of pulling action, you want to maintain strength in your triceps as well.
Find a stable chair, bench, or step.
- Sit on the edge of the chair and grip the edge next to your hips. Your fingers should be pointed at your feet. Your legs are extended and your feet should be about hip-width apart with the heels touching the ground. Look straight ahead with your chin up.
- Press into your palms to lift your body and slide forward just far enough that your behind clears the edge of the chair.
- Lower yourself until your elbows are bent between 45 and 90 degrees.
- Slowly push yourself back up to the start position and repeat. Control the movement throughout the range of motion.
- Begin with 10 repetitions and work up to 25 repetitions over several weeks.
Avoid these errors so you get the most from this exercise and avoid injury.
Keep your shoulders down, away from your ears. You need to maintain a long line of your neck throughout the movement.
Pay attention to the strain on your shoulders. Don't go any lower if you begin to feel a heavy strain. Otherwise, you risk a possible shoulder injury.
Don't lock your elbows at the top of the movement. Keeping them slightly soft maintains tension on the triceps.
If you lean forward, you will be exercising your chest rather than your triceps. Maintain a straight line without any forward lean.
You can vary the triceps dip in several ways to make it more or less difficult.
If you can't do 10 repetitions of the exercise, you can modify the chair dip to decrease the intensity. You can do the dips with bent knees for the easiest variation.
Limit how far you lower your hips to decrease the amount of effort used during the exercise. As you get stronger, increase the range of motion and number of repetitions. Over time, as you build strength, you will be able to do the full chair dip. For a complete upper body workout, add the basic push up.
You can increase the intensity by using two chairs or two sturdy benches. In this version, you will be lifting more of your body weight:
- Place the chairs facing each other, about 3 feet apart.
- Sit on the edge of one chair and grip the edge of the chair with your hands.
- Place your heels on the edge of the other chair and hold yourself up using your triceps.
- Slide forward just far enough that your behind clears the edge of the chair, then lower yourself until your elbows are bent between 45 and 90 degrees.
- Slowly push yourself back up to the start position and repeat. Control the movement throughout the range of motion.
- Begin with 10 repetitions and work up to 25 repetitions over several weeks.
You can also make this exercise more difficult by crossing one ankle over the opposite knee while dipping.
The intense version of the dip is done using parallel bars or a set of rings. In this version, you will be lifting the entire weight of your body with no support other than your arms.
- Use an overhand grip to hold onto the rails or rings with straight arms. Contract your core and take your full body weight onto your arms, bending your knees so your feet are off the ground.
- Bend your elbows and lower your body slowly.
Begin by lowering for two seconds or as low as you can go without great discomfort in your shoulders.
- Pause in the low position for a second or two.
- Press back up to the upright position.
- Repeat 10 to 12 times.
- End by straightening your legs to stand up.
For the most intense version of the triceps dip, perform it on parallel bars with a weight attached to a weight belt.
The exercise can stress the elbows and shoulders, so if you have any joint pain, you may want to use the pushup exercise to build strength in the triceps and shoulder. If you have shoulder problems, you may want to avoid this exercise.
Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:
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How To Do A Triceps Dip—Form Tips, Benefits, Variations
TBH, doing a triceps dip can be pretty tricky. But I'm going to teach you everything you need to know about the upper-body exercise—the benefits, form tips, variations, and more!
The basic triceps dip is a bodyweight exercise. Translation: it's a move that uses your own mass as a tool to build muscle, increase strength, and challenge your overall fitness. Eventually, you can add a load to your upper quads or hip ( resting a weight plate on your lap) in order to make them harder.
Either way, the great thing about a triceps dip is that once you get the hang of it, it's easy to master and incorporate in to your regular workouts. Plus, there are plenty of variations you can do to increase the move's intensity and keep things exciting. (More on that later.)
But if you haven't done a triceps dip before that's okay, after going over why you'd want to do them in the first place, I'll break down how to do triceps dips with step-by-step instructions below.
Benefits Of The Triceps Dip
The triceps dip is a heavy hitter for anyone looking to create tone and definition in their upper arms. The move will primarily target your triceps (duh).
But you can also expect to see some gains in your shoulder and chest area. This includes your anterior deltoids—these are the muscles on the front of your shoulders.
Working them will boost your ability to lift—weights, kids, that recently delivered Amazon package waiting at your front door!
But the triceps dip is not only focused on your arms and shoulders. You'll also be targeting your core as you lift your hips up and down too.
How To Do A Triceps Dip
The biggest mistake people make is assuming that the tricep dip is too simple. “It's basically a squat with a chair, right?” Wrong! Here's a step-by-step guide for how to do the triceps dip the right way:
- Grip the front edges of a chair or bench with your hand.
- Hover your butt just off and in front of the seat, feet flat, and legs bent so thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Straighten your arms. This is your start position.
- Lower your body toward the floor until your arms form 90-degree angles.
- Then, engage your triceps to press back to start.
- That's one rep!
Form tip: Your butt should be grazing the front of the chair or bench that you're working with, and your shoulders should be rolled down your back and away from your ears to keep the work your neck.
Sets/reps for results: Aim for three sets of 10–15 reps, and try adding them into your workouts 2–3 times a week to add muscle definition to your arms and build strength.
Variations On The Triceps Dip
- Reverse Plank Triceps Dip: To increase the intensity of this move, extend your legs until you form a straight line from your head to your heels (reverse plank position).
- Elevated Triceps Dip: Raise your feet onto another surface (bench or chair) the same height of the surface where your hands are resting. This will increase the intensity of the move and force you to engage your core even more.
- Weighted Triceps Dip: Place weight plates or a barbell on your upper quads/hip crease to make things really spicy! This will help you build up strength in your lower body too.
How To Work The Triceps Dip In To Your Routine
- Do it as a warm-up: The triceps dip is a great exercise to prep for the bench press or other push movements pushups. But due to the demands on yours shoulder, make sure those are warmed up too by doing arm circles and stretches.
- Do them as a superset: Because, triceps dips are an upper body focussed exercise, it could be a nice active recovery between sets of lower body moves squats, allowing you to give your legs a break and fully recover while still working.
Exercise Of The Week: Dips
A dip is a compound, push-type exercise which works a large number of muscles in your chest, shoulders, and arms at the same time.
The following table lists information about dips and the muscles that you use when performing dips.
Basic Exercise Data For Dips
You can perform dips by grasping two parallel bars that are approximately shoulder-width apart. Raise yourself up to an initial position with your arms extended and supporting the entire weight of your body. Next, lower yourself to a final position where your elbows are bent and your shoulders are mildly stretched.
Variations Of Dips: Chest & Triceps
Depending on the type of training routine you're using, you may want to use dips to bring special attention to your chest muscles. You can do this by performing Chest Dips in which you lean your body forward while dipping. To do this, grasp the handles of the parallel bars and push yourself up to the initial position.
While keeping your elbows close to your body and your hips straight, lower yourself to the final position. Note that the final position should be just enough to slightly stretch your shoulders. While keeping your body leaning forward at all times, push yourself up to the initial position again. The following table summarizes the muscles worked during Chest Dips.
Muscles Worked With Chest Dips
Targeted Muscles: Pectoralis Major
Synergists: Anterior Deltoid Triceps Brachii Pectoralis Minor Rhomboids Levator Scapulae Latissimus Dorsi Teres Major
Stabilizers: Trapezius (lower)
Just as you can use dips to emphasize your chest, you can alternatively use dips to give special attention to your triceps. The triceps can be emphasized by keeping your body straight at all times while performing dips. This variation of dips is typically referred to as Triceps Dips.
To do Triceps Dips, grasp handles of the parallel bars and push yourself up to the initial position. While keeping your elbows close to your body and your hips straight, lower yourself to the final position.
As with all forms of dips, your final position should be just enough to slightly stretch your shoulders. While keeping your body straight at all times, push yourself back up to the initial position.
Depending on how high you are above the floor, you can either bend and cross your legs or you can keep your legs straight while performing dips. Whether you cross your legs or not, just don't forget to keep your body straight throughout the exercise! The following table summarizes the muscles worked during Triceps Dips.
Muscles Worked With Triceps Dips
Targeted Muscles: Triceps Brachii
Synergists: Anterior Deltoid, Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Rhomboids, Levator Scapulae Latissimus Dorsi, Stabilizers, Trapezius (lower), Dynamic Stabilizers, Biceps Brachii
When Bodyweight Is Not Enough
The resistance you use during dips is provided by your bodyweight. As you gain strength, however, you'll ly need more resistance than bodyweight alone. A solution to this problem is to suspend weight plates from your waist by using a Dipping Belt.
The Dipping Belt has a support ring on one end and a chain and clasp attached to a similar ring on the other end. These components enable you to hang weight plates from your waist. You can use the dipping belt by placing it around your waist and then passing the clasp and chain through the ring on the opposite end of the belt.
Pulling the chain tightens the belt around your waist. Next, pass the clasp and chain through one or more weight plates and then fasten the clasp onto the ring that the other end of the chain is attached to.
You'll notice that the weight of the plates keeps the belt tightened around your waist. You can now carefully walk over to the parallel bars and perform some weighted dips.
When Bodyweight Is Too Much
Some trainees may not yet have the strength to support their bodyweight on the parallel bars. In this case, Bench Dips are a great way to gain the benefits of performing dips until the trainee's strength is great enough to perform regular dips.
You can perform Bench Dips by placing your hands on a bench, or a suitable pair of handles, and placing your feet on a support of some type. The trainee has placed his feet on a bench and is supporting his body by grasping a pair of parallel handles. The primary advantage of Bench Dips is that they remove a large portion of the weight of the legs.
As you can see, performing Bench Dips is very similar to performing regular dips. When you do Bench Dips, grasp the two handles or parallel bars and then place your feet on the support. While keeping your legs straight, raise yourself up until your arms are fully extended. Next, lower yourself down until your shoulders are slightly stretched.
While still keeping your legs straight, raise yourself upwards to the initial position then repeat. As with other forms of dips, you can emphasize your chest by leaning forward, or you can emphasize your triceps by keeping your body straight throughout the exercise.
As your strength increases, you can increase your exercise resistance by placing weight plates on your lap. Given time, your strength will increase enough for you to perform regular dips.
An alternative to performing Bench Dips is to use a Dip Machine. With a Dip Machine, you can select the weight you want to use. This makes things easy when your strength increases; you simply select more weight. The Dip Machine has a seat, a pair of parallel bars with handles, and a weight stack.
To use the Dip Machine, generally you select the weight you want to use and then belt yourself into the seat. You can then grasp the handles, and then push the parallel bar down. As with all machines, however, you should be sure to read and follow the instructions that accompany the Dip Machine.
Incorporating Dips Into Your Training
Now that you know how to perform various forms of dips, let's take a look at how to incorporate dips into your training routine.
Recall that a dip is a pushing exercise that generally works the chest, triceps, and front shoulders. Thus, it's a good idea to combine Dips with pulling exercises that train muscles that work in opposition to the chest, triceps, and front shoulders. For example, one choice is to combine Dips with Chins or Pulldowns.
Chins and Pulldowns generally train the back, biceps, and rear shoulders. Another option is to combine Dips with different types of Rows. Following is one example of a full-body routine which includes Dips with One-Arm Rows.
- Leg Curl
- Inclined Bench Press
- Wide Grip Pulldowns
- One-Arm Rows
- Inclined Hammer Curls
- Lying Triceps Extensions
- Abdominal Crunches
Also, note that the chest, triceps, and front shoulders are trained by the Inclined Bench Press, too. Because of this, the Inclined Bench Press is followed by Wide Grip Pulldowns, which work the back, biceps, and rear shoulders.
Arranging the exercises in this way ensures that the chest, triceps, and front shoulders get a break before being worked again with Dips. Now let's take a look at an abbreviated version of the above routine that includes Chins.
- Leg Curl
- Inclined Bench Press
- Seated Rows
As you can see, this routine has Chins placed before the Dips and Seated Rows placed afterwards. Thus, the chest, triceps, and front shoulders get a rest after the Inclined Bench Press.
Another popular approach is to select alternating exercises that are performed every other workout day. For example, you might choose the following alternatives for a full-body workout.
- Squat Leg Curl, Bench Press, Chins, Rear Delts, Shrugs, Curls, Triceps Extensions, Calf Raise
- Leg Press, Leg Curl, Dips, Rows, Rear Delts, Shrugs, Curls, Triceps Extensions, Calf Raise
In this routine, Inclined Bench Presses are alternated with Dips, and Chins are alternated with Rows. Also, note that with these exercises, A is performed on one workout day, B is performed on the next workout day, and so on.
Still, another popular idea is to split your training into push exercises and pull exercises. With this approach, muscles that push (i.e., chest, triceps, and front shoulders) and muscles that pull (i.e., back, biceps, and rear shoulders) are trained on different workout days. Following is a group of upper-body exercises that alternate push and pull exercises.
- Bench Press Dips Triceps Extensions
- Chins Rows Bicep Curls
Workout A includes Bench Press and Dips, both of which are compound pushing exercises, and Workout B includes Chins and Rows, both of which are compound pulling exercises. Triceps Extensions and Bicep Curls are isolation exercises that are thrown in for a little extra arm work.
Alternatives To Performing Dips
It should be recognized that although Dips are a great exercise, they aren't for everyone. Trainees having existing shoulder pathology may find Dips painful.
Indeed, any exercise which causes pain beyond normal muscle soreness should be discontinued, and a qualified health care professional should be consulted. If you cannot, or just don't want to perform Dips, any of the following exercises can be used to train the chest, triceps, and front shoulders.
How To Do Tricep Dips
The tricep dip is one of the most basic but also most effective bodyweight exercises that targets the tricep muscle.
It can strengthen your arms and, along with cardio and clean eating, can help eliminate the fat on the back of your arms.
A simple raising and lowering of your bodyweight engages your triceps and deltoids, also known as shoulder muscles, to strengthen and tighten your arms! If you learn how to do tricep dips you will learn how to love your arms!
The back of the arm is a common area of complaint for many people. It tends to lose strength as we age and lose some of our muscle mass. It also tends to be an area that is difficult to strengthen. Often the weights we grab are too light to make a difference.
There are lots of machines at the gym that you can use to work and strengthen your triceps, but they can be difficult to find or use even if you do have a gym membership, which many people don’t. That is why tricep dips are so great.
They use your own bodyweight to give you a great challenge.
When you do a bodyweight exercise, you don’t need any extra equipment, and most importantly you don’t even need to be in a gym! You can incorporate this exercise into your arm routine and do it anywhere you are, which makes it great for staying active on the go.
There are a lot of moves out there—push-ups for example—that work multiple upper body muscles at once.
we love a good push-up, but these tricep dips are perfect because they really target your triceps specifically, but your shoulders still get a little burn too! This exercise can easily be made more challenging by increasing the incline of your body: add a bench for your hands and/or feet or make this exercise easier by moving your heels closer in towards your butt. If the tricep dips become a little too intense for your shoulders, try our tricep push up for an equally fun way to work those triceps.
Use the links below to quickly navigate this guide:
- Start seated with knees bent and feet on the floor. Place hands behind you, directly under the shoulders, with finger facing your hips. Lift hips to a hover.
- Bend elbow straight back and use your triceps to press back up.
What Muscles Do Tricep Dips Work?
A tricep dip is an amazing exercise that uses bodyweight to strengthen the triceps, biceps and shoulder muscles of your upper arms.
Benefits of Tricep Dips
There are many reasons you should incorporate tricep dip into your workouts. Here are just a few:
Tricep dip targets the tricep muscles directly to help tone and shape the back of your arms. No more saggy, wavy arms. Tricep dips firm and strengthen that entire area.
Tricep dip focuses mainly on your triceps, but it also incorporates strengthening in the biceps. The arms work as a whole and lifting your bodyweight up and down is great for shaping your arms.
Improves Core Strength and Stability
The dipping and lifting motion of the tricep dip is done primarily with your arms, but in order to have proper form you have to have your core muscles pulled in and tight.
How Many Calories Does a Tricep Dip Burn?
People often ask how many calories they are burning in their workouts. Most exercises will generally burn about 100 calories for every 10 minutes you are working at higher intensity. Bottom line: the harder you work, the more calories you burn.
Tricep dip builds muscle in your arm and while it won’t create a big calorie burn, it will develop more muscle on your body to help you burn more calories.
Other Exercises Similar to Tricep Dips
If you the tricep dip and the results you get from it, here are a few more exercises you might want to try.
How To Do Shoulder Overhead Press
How To Do Chest Press
How To Do Tricep Overhead Extensions
Incorporating Tricep Dips Into Your Workouts
A tricep dip is a great exercise to practice any time on its own. However, you could also incorporate it into other workouts to mix them up. Here are some ideas to make that happen.
Use Tricep Dip In An Upper Body Challenge
Concentrating an entire workout to your upper body is an effective way to make change. Working all your upper body muscles can make for one intense training session. Use this workout as your arm day challenge. You’ll sculpt and shape your upper body. Keep working at it consistently and you’ll see change in the shape of your upper body!
Arm Toning Workout: Try each exercise below for the number of repetitions listed with just a few seconds in between to rest.
Repeat one more time
Use Tricep Dips In Your Full Body Strength Workout
Full body workouts take one session and tackle all the muscles. Not only do you make the most of your time, but you get your heart rate up as well. Take one workout and get it all done! This next workout gets it all done and includes tricep dip as well as a bunch of other basic strength moves you’ll love. Grab a set of dumbbells and follow along.
Full Body Strength Workout: Warm up for about 2-3 minutes then, do between 10-15 of each of the following moves:
Use Tricep Dip In An AMRAP Workout
AMRAP = “As Many Rounds As Possible.” Take 3 exercises, set a timer for 3 minutes and see how many rounds of those 3 exercises you can finish in your 3 minutes!
10 Minute Bodyweight AMRAP Workout: The groups below have 3 exercises listed. Go through the list of 3 as many times as possible for 3 minutes. Take a 30-second break then move to the next group until you’ve done them all.
- 10 Squats
- 10 Squat Jumps
- 10 Push-Ups
- 10 Reverse Lunges
- 10 Split Jumps
- 10 Tricep Dips
- 10 Side Lunges
- 10 Skaters
- 10 Bend Extend Ab Tucks
Here are 3 more workouts that incorporate tricep dips:
Chair Dips: How to Do and Muscles Worked
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Looking to stay fit without a gym membership or any expensive equipment? Bodyweight exercises, chair dips, are simple, effective, and easy to incorporate into your routine.
Chair dips target the muscles on the back of the upper arms. While the biceps on the front get a lot of attention, you’ll want to focus on the entire arm for the best strength and overall tone.
Best of all? Most people can do chair dips safely at home. You can also up the challenge by trying different modifications.
Keep reading to learn how to do a chair dip, what muscles this exercise works, and other exercises you can do to work these same muscles.
Chair dips are also called tricep dips because they work the tricep muscles on the back of the upper arms. In fact, some experts explain that chair dips are the most effective workout for this muscle.
The triceps are important in everyday movement that involves extending the elbow and forearm. You use them when lifting things grocery bags or when reaching for items overhead. This muscle also plays an important role in stabilizing the shoulder joint.
Chair dips also work the:
- Pectoralis major. This is the main muscle on the upper chest and is often referred to simply as the “pecs.”
- Trapezius. This triangular muscle extends from the neck to the shoulder to the middle back.
- Serratus anterior. This muscle is on the surface of the upper eight or nine ribs.
To try this exercise at home, you first need to find a sturdy chair or bench. A staircase or other stable elevated surface may also work in a pinch.
- Sit on your chair or bench with your arms at your side and your feet flat on the floor, hip distance apart.
- Position your hands so that your palms are down beside your hips. Your fingers should grip the front of the chair seat.
- Move your torso forward off the chair with your arms extended. Your buttocks should hover over the floor and your knees should be slightly bent. Your heels should touch the floor a few inches in front of your knees.
- Breathe in as you slowly lower your body, hinging at the elbows until each forms a 90-degree angle.
- Breathe out as you push up to your starting position with your arms fully extended.
Complete the exercise 10 to 15 times for your first set. Then complete another set. You may work your way up to doing more repetitions or sets of this exercise as you build strength.
Tips for proper form
- Be sure to keep your elbows straight behind you versus splaying them outward.
- Resist shrugging your shoulders — keep them neutral with your neck relaxed.
- Increase the difficulty of this exercise by straightening your legs and placing only your heels on the floor instead of the whole foot.
If you’re a beginner, try this exercise in a chair that has arms. The difference is that your hands rest on the chair arms instead of the seat of the chair. This way, you won’t need quite as much range of motion to work the triceps.
More advanced exercisers may want to take the bench or chair the equation entirely. Tricep dips can be performed on parallel bars at your gym or even on a playground.
You hold your entire body weight up with your arms extended and feet hovering over the floor, ankles crossed. Lower your body until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle before returning to your starting position.
Better yet, consider using two benches to do what’s called a bench dip. Begin by balancing your body on two benches with your feet on one and your hands on the other. Your buttocks will sink in the space between them.
Lower your body with your arms until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle. Push up to your starting position.
If you’re pregnant
If you’re pregnant, try doing tricep dips on the floor. Start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Move your hands to meet the floor behind you — fingertips pointing in toward your body — with your elbows pointing directly backward.
Push with your arms until your buttocks is off the floor. Then slowly lower all while keeping your buttocks just off the ground.
Chair dips are safe for most people because they mimic everyday movement of these muscles. Speak with your doctor if you’ve had a previous shoulder injury, as this movement may place stress on the anterior shoulder.
People who don’t have flexibility in their shoulders may also want to be careful with this exercise.
Not sure if you have good shoulder flexibility? Try standing in front of a mirror with your arms at your sides. Raise your right arm over your head and bend the elbow to place your hand on your upper back — the right shoulder blade.
Move your left hand up your back toward your right shoulder blade. If your hands are more than a hand’s distance apart, you may not have optimal flexibility.
Read this article for ways to relieve shoulder tightness and increase flexibility.
Chair dips and their modifications aren’t the only exercises that target the upper arms. There are other moves you can try at home with little or no equipment necessary.
Begin in a plank position with your hands beneath you, your thumbs and index fingers forming a loose triangle. Inhale as you lower your body, moving your elbows out at about a 45-degree angle. Exhale to your starting position. Do 10 to 15 repetitions.
Dumbbell tricep kickbacks
Stand in a lunge position with your right foot forward and your spine neutral but nearly parallel to the floor. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand — your arm should be alongside your body.
Inhale as you slowly bend your arm at the elbow while keeping your upper arm stationary. Exhale as you push back to your starting position. Do 10 to 15 repetitions and then repeat on the other side.
Start with lighter weight and work your way up to doing more to avoid injury. You may even consider purchasing an adjustable dumbbell that allows you to change the weight easily as you progress.
Overhead triceps extension
Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Grab a dumbbell with both hands gripping the upper part of the weight from underneath. Bring the weight up over and slightly behind your head.
With a slight arch in your back and your knees bent, slowly lower the weight as you inhale. Stop when you reach a 90-degree angle with your elbow. Then exhale as you return to your starting position. Do 10 to 15 repetitions. Here’s a video of the move.
Check out eight more weight-free exercises to tone every muscle in your arms.
Don’t be discouraged if chair dips feel difficult at first. Consistency is key.
Experts suggest doing at least two sessions of moves chair dips and other strength training each week. Otherwise, work to keep the rest of your body strong by getting in 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular activity.
Read more about finding the right balance between cardiovascular exercise and strength training here.
How To Do Triceps Dips
Generally, health and fitness is about taking the holistic approach of staying active and eating well in order to live a long and happy life. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s just about one thing: building massive, sleeve-splitting upper arms. And for that, you need the triceps dip in your life.
That’s because while people tend to focus on their biceps, the triceps are actually a bigger muscle group than their glamorous, front-of-arm counterparts. So if you’re chasing size, neglecting the back of your arms is pure folly.
The triceps are made up of three heads, hence their name, and if you want to increase the strength and size of your upper arms you need to work all three. Fortunately, you can do just that with one exercise – the triceps dip.
Read on for everything you need to know about this fundamental bodyweight exercise, including a range of variations you can use to increase the difficulty involved once you’ve mastered the standard dip.
Wherever and however you dip, the key is arm position. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart on the surface you are dipping from, with your arms straight. Squeeze your core and glutes then raise your chin and chest to keep your body tight. From there, start the move by bending your elbows. Dip down until your arms are at a 90-degree angle.
Pause at the bottom for a one or two count, then press back up powerfully, ensuring you keep your core and glutes tight to prevent your legs swinging. Don’t fully lock out your arms at the top; keeping a slight bend in your elbows at the top forces your triceps to work far harder.
To expose your triceps to as much time under tension as possible – a key stimulus for adding new muscle tissue – lower your body as slowly as you can. Aim for two seconds at first, building up over time to four seconds. Get as low as you can without stressing your shoulders.
Three sets of eight to ten dips, perhaps pushing the third set until you physically can dip no more, should leave your upper arms in tatters for a day or two.
At the gym you can do dips that support your whole body on parallel bars, but you can also use a bench or chair to dip anywhere with your feet on the floor. Just make sure whatever surface is involved can take your body weight, and it’s probably wise not to opt for a chair on wheels…
Triceps Dips Form Tips
“The dip is one of the best exercises for building triceps size and strength for a number of important reasons,” says Viktor Genov (pictured), a personal trainer at Fitness First Tottenham Court Road.
“First, they allow for a great range of motion, which is critical to working a muscle fully.
As a compound lift that causes shoulder extension and elbow extension, the dip also recruits more muscle fibres, and the movement pattern allows a big stretch at the bottom position as well as a big contraction at the top.”
If you can’t do a full bodyweight dip, Genov advises starting with a band-assisted variation. “This will enable you to master the movement pattern and begin to build the strength needed to do the full move,” he says. “You can also make it easier by leaning your chest forwards and bringing your knees closer to your chest.”
Parallel bars are the best option for dips. “For the ideal hand placement the bars should be no wider than the length of your forearm,” says Genov. “If your hands are any wider apart then you will shift tension away from your triceps and towards your shoulders, so you risk placing too much stress on your shoulder joints.”
As with press-ups, it’s essential your abs are fully engaged from the moment before you start the set to the moment after it’s finished. “Bracing your abs effectively is so important to getting better at bodyweight moves,” says Genov. “You can improve your ability to engage your abs by doing more planks. If you want to master bodyweight exercises, planks will become your best friend.”
“Your shoulders must work very hard in the dip because they need to be fixed in position the whole time, pushed forwards and downwards,” says Genov.
“Keep your head as far back as you can with your chin up, not pressed down towards your chest, and tense your neck muscles to keep your head still.
Lower yourself until your shoulders are level with your elbows – don’t go any lower than this because it risks straining your shoulder joint and removes tension from the triceps.”
“Keep your elbows tucked in to your torso as much as possible and don’t ever let them flare out to the sides,” Genov says. “By doing this you will place and keep more tension on the triceps and reduce the potential stress on your elbow and shoulder joints.”
“Pointing the toes straight down ensures complete tension throughout the entire body,” says Genov. “Most people always try to make a bodyweight move easier, but that makes it less effective. By making it harder and placing the maximum tension on the target muscle – in this case, the triceps – you are making these muscles work harder and that’s what gets the best results.”
- Beginner Up to 5 band-assisted reps at a 2131 tempo
- Intermediate Up to 5 reps at a 2131 tempo
- Advanced 10+ reps at a 1121 tempo
- Viktor Genov’s PB 15
Triceps Dips Variations
From beginner to expert, dips are versatile enough to include in anyone’s workout. One way to tweak the move is to lean forwards to increase the involvement of the pecs, instead of holding your torso upright which keeps the focus on the triceps.
To keep mixing things up, master each of these variations before moving on to the next.
1. Bench dip with knees bent
How Place your hands on a bench or box behind you with your feet together and flat on the floor with knees bent. Lower slowly as far as you can, then press back up powerfully.
Why This is a beginner-friendly move because the amount of your own bodyweight that you have to lift is reduced by the position of your legs.
2. Bench dip with legs straight
How Place your hands on a bench or box behind you with your feet together, legs straight and heels on the floor. Lower slowly as far as you can, then press back up powerfully.
Why While still a beginner-friendly move, this variation is slightly tougher because you have to lift and lower a higher proportion of your own bodyweight.
3. Bench dip with legs raised
How Place your hands on a bench or box behind you with your feet together on a slightly lower bench or box with knees bent. Lower slowly as far as you can, then press back up powerfully.
Why Having your feet elevated increases the amount of bodyweight you have to lift and lower, making this a more challenging variation.
4. Parallel bars dip
How Grasp parallel bars using an overhand grip and raise your body until your arms are straight. Keeping your chest up and your core engaged, lower slowly as far as you can, then press back up powerfully.
Why This is the classic triceps dip and mastering it will help you add size and strength to the backs of your upper arms. Always warm up your triceps as well as your elbow and shoulder joints before doing this move.
5. Parallel bars dip with weights
How Attach weights to a weight belt and grasp parallel bars using an overhand grip, then raise your body until your arms are straight. Keeping your chest up and your core engaged, lower slowly as far as you can then press back up powerfully.
Why Once you can comfortably manage three sets of ten parallel bars dips, sticking to a slow and controlled tempo, you may want to consider adding extra resistance to your reps in the form of a weight plate. This will challenge your muscles far more, but start out with a small plate – 2.5kg to 5kg – and build up the extra resistance slowly so your muscles and joints have time to adjust.
Tricep Dips to Build Arm Strength and Size
Tricep dips are one of the best exercises to increase your arm strength, and also build lean muscle in your upper arms. They will work all 3 tricep muscles, and simply must be part of any effective tricep workout.
They are also a bodyweight exercise, which means you don’t need gym equipment, dumbbells, etc to perform the exercise. You can really do them just about anywhere, anytime.
The tricep muscle makes up two-thirds (2/3) of your upper arm, so if you want to build muscular, defined arms and have your guns look guns, then you have to give your tricep workout proper attention. A good rule is to give a 50/50 focus to your biceps and your triceps. This will give you a good, balanced look.
The triceps are a 3-headed muscle on the rear of the upper arm. Click here for more on the anatomy of the triceps.
Two Types of Tricep Dips
There are two forms of this exercise, and both are key to your overall workout routine:
- Tricep dips on a bench (Bench dips)
- Tricep dips on parallel bars
Both are really great exercises for your arm strength, but the bench dips are a more targeted exercise for your triceps and can be done anywhere.
#1 Tricep Dips on a Bench for a Great Tricep Workout
Tricep dips on a bench, also called bench dips, are simple to perform. All you need is a bench, chair, low table, etc. (anchor point). They can be done in the gym, or at your home or office.
Bench dips are tremendous when used in bi-sets, where your first do rope pulldowns or overhead tricep extensions (with dumbbell), and then followed immediately with bench dips. Really awesome tricep workout! You will almost certainly feel it the next day, even if you’re a “gym rat.”
Muscles Worked With Bench Dips
- Primary – Triceps
- Secondary – Shoulders, Chest
Performing Bench Dips
- Set your body with your feet facing away from your anchor point (bench, chair, couch). You will bend 90 degrees at the waist, so your upper body will be vertical.
- Extend your feet away from the bench so your knees are slightly bent (feet on the ground or elevated on a bench). Make sure you have a solid grip on the bench, approximately shoulder width apart.
Arms slightly bent in the start position. Your anchor point should be about 18″ off the floor.
- Lower your body down in a controlled movement until your elbows are bent 90 degrees. Your upper arms should be close to parallel to the floor. Inhale on the way down.
- Hold this position at the bottom for 1 second, then push up on your hands returning to the start position.
- Push your upper body up to the start position to complete the rep. Exhale going up.
Variation (higher resistance): To increase the resistance, set your feet on a parallel bench instead of on the floor (image below). So your legs will now be parallel to the floor. Perform the motion the same.
For further increased resistance, put a flat plate (weight) on your lap.
Caution: This exercise will put stress on your shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Make sure you do a good warm-up first, and ensure your joints are loose and warm.
#2 Tricep Dips (on parallel bars)
You probably don’t have parallel bars in your home unless you’re a hardcore gymnast, so this one is probably for your local gym. You can try this at home with either 1) perfectly spaced kitchen counters or 2) kitchen chairs backed up to each other. Be very careful with both for obvious reasons.
Muscles Worked With Parallel Bar Dips
- Primary – Triceps
- Secondary – Shoulders, Chest
Performing Tricep Dips on Parallel Bars
- Mount the parallel bars, with your arms fully extended and nearly locked out. Your legs will be slightly bent at the knees.
- Slowly lower your body down until your arms are bent at a 90 deg angle.
Keep your back straight on the way down, and inhale going down. Keep your elbows close to your body to engage the triceps.
- Push your body up to return to the start position. Exhale on the way up.
- Less resistance: Machine-assisted dips (gym equipment)
- More resistance: Add a weight belt to your routine
Avoiding Injury When Performing Tricep Dips
Tricep dips will strain your arm and shoulder joints. Make sure you properly warm-up prior to your resistance workout:
- A few minutes of light cardio (jog in place, jumping jacks)
- A few minutes of dynamic stretching
- Do some light wrist stretches for your wrists and also tendons around your elbows
Click for more great tricep exercises.