If you’re looking for a bodyweight exercise that specifically targets your tricep muscles, you should definitely add tricep dips to your workouts. It’s a great exercise that strengthens your upper body and defines your arms effectively. As long as done properly and regularly, performing triceps dips can improve the strength of your triceps, shoulders, and upper arms.
One thing that makes the tricep dip different from other exercises is that it eventually eliminates the tension from your elbow and shoulder joints as you go along. Although it’s a tricep workout, tricep dips can also help you lose weight because it burns a lot of calories.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about tricep dips — from its step-by-step instructions, common mistakes to avoid, muscles worked, and more. This is the only resource you’ll need to perfect the tricep dips!
How To Do Tricep Dips
Step 1: Position your upper body
To perform tricep dips or bench dips, sit on the edge of the weighted bench or chair and grip the edge next to your hips. Ensure that your fingers are positioned shoulder-width apart, legs straight, and your feet are hip-width apart with heels touching the ground. Chin up and look straight ahead.
Step 2: Lift your body
Lift your body by pressing your palms and sliding forward just far enough that your behind doesn’t touch the weight bench or chair.
Step 3: Lower yourself
Slowly lower yourself until your elbows are bent at a 45- to a 90-degree angle. Focus on controlling the movement throughout the range of motion.
Step 4: Push back up
Push yourself back up until your arms are almost straight. Repeat steps one to three until you reach your desired number of reps.
Tricep Dips Benefits
Trains Multiple Muscles Simultaneously
The tricep dip is an example of a compound exercise, which means that it targets different muscles at the same time. Aside from toning your tricep muscle, tricep dips also put stress on your upper arm, and shoulders. This makes tricep dips an effective upper body workout.
Works As A Solid Chest Workout
As you lean forward to complete the tricep dip, you’ll be able to target your chest muscles. Tricep dips are actually effective and efficient in toning your chest muscles unlike other exercises, such as bench presses.
Defines Shoulders And Triceps
Tricep dips create resistance as the arms directly impact your shoulders and triceps. More stress is placed on the triceps when movements are performed as you keep your body straight and directly over your arms.
Boosts Functional Strength
Tricep dips are extremely beneficial for building overall strength because it conditions and trains your lower body and shoulder muscles to perform other athletic exercises, namely pull-ups and push-ups. With better functional strength, you’ll have more endurance to perform day-to-day activities, as well.
Common Tricep Dip Mistakes to Avoid
- Hunching your shoulders: Avoid hunching when shoulders when performing tricep dips as this puts unnecessary stress on your shoulders muscles, resulting to pain and injuries. Instead, focus on keeping your shoulders down and away from your ears when performing tricep dips. Aim to maintain a lock and straight neck throughout the movement.
- Leaning forward: Whenever you lean forward, you’re exercising your chest, not your triceps. To fix this problem, always maintain a straight line in your body without leaning too forward.
- Dipping too low: As you perform triceps dip, pay attention to the strain on your shoulders. Don’t go any lower if you start to experience heavy strain on your shoulder muscles. Otherwise, you risk a possible shoulder injury.
- Not going low enough: Similar to the previous point, not going low enough can affect the efficacy of the exercise and your safety as you’re performing it. Additionally, not going low enough won’t fully engage your triceps, negating the benefits of the exercise. Avoid committing this mistake by making sure that you lower down until your upper arms are parallel to the ground and elbows form a 90-degree angle.
- Locking elbows: Avoid locking your elbows when at the top of the movement. This will make it very difficult for you to lower your body as you perform another rep of the exercise. Instead, keep your elbows slightly bent to maintain the tension on your triceps.
- Moving too quickly: Don’t rely on momentum to complete each rep as this will prevent you from experiencing the benefits of the exercise. Move slowly while maintaining control and stability for maximum results.
Tricep Dips Muscles Worked
- Triceps: These are the muscles found at the back of your upper arm. Having strong and toned triceps increases your overall arm strength and endurance, enables you to lift heavier during other exercises, and improves the stability of your elbow and shoulder joints.
- Pectoralis Major: The pectoralis major extends across the upper part of your chest and is attached to a ridge at the rear of your upper arm. Performing tricep dips regularly targets your pecs, resulting in improved posture, stronger chest muscles, and more stabilized shoulder joints.
- Trapezius: Your trapezius or traps are responsible for your movement and posture. As you target this muscle group during tricep dips, you’ll be able to stabilize your neck and upper back, and make everyday exercises, such as lifting, bending, and reaching, safer and more efficient.
- Serratus anterior: Also known as the “boxer’s muscle”, your serratus anterior supports the protraction and anteversion of your arms. Tricep dips put stress on this muscle group, which can eventually result in lesser neck and shoulder injuries, improved posture and breathing, and a better range of motion.
Tricep Dips vs Chest Dips
The biggest difference between tricep dips and Chest Dips is the positioning and execution of each exercise. Tricep dips will require you to position a little more upright with elbows tucked and feet straight in front of you. Chest dips, on the other hand, will require you to position yourself a little more forward while your elbows are flared out and feet behind you.
Technically, both the tricep dips and chest dips work the same muscles and help you reach your intended fitness goals. However, tricep dips are better given that they target your triceps in a more unique way and enable you to build strength over what chest dips can do.
Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs
For Toning Arms
To tone your arms, try three sets of 15 reps of tricep dips. You can achieve better results faster by adding the same set and reps of bicep curls and tricep extension to the routine.
For A Full-Body Workout
Do five sets of 10 reps of tricep dips for a full-body workout. You can also do the same set and reps of Russian twist, side to side squat swing, and plank to upright row for a more intense full-body workout.
Tricep Dip Variations
What’s great about tricep dips is that you can perform several variations to make it less or more difficult. Listed below are some of the most common variations of the tricep dips:
Tricep Dips With Bent Knees
Compared to the traditional tricep dips wherein you have to keep your legs straight throughout the movement, this variation involves bending the knees. This variation provides more support, which means that less stress is placed on the shoulder joints. This is an excellent option for individuals who have shoulder pain or recently recovered from shoulder injuries.
Tricep Dips With Two Chairs
For this variation, you’ll need to use two chairs facing each other (about three feet apart) to dip lower. This variation can put stress on your lower and upper body, making it a great full-body workout. If you want to make this exercise more challenging, you can cross one angle over the opposite as you lower your body.
Tricep Dips With Bars Or Rings
Using Parallel Dip Bars or rings will make the traditional tricep dips more intense. Also known as assisted dips, this variation will require you to lift your entire body weight with no support other than your upper arms.
Band Assisted Tricep Dips
If you’re having trouble performing tricep dips using your body weight, try the Band-Assisted Tricep Dip. This variation allows you to strengthen and build muscles of your shoulders, chest, and triceps, and progress to the point where you can already perform bodyweight dips.
Tricep Dip Alternatives
The alternatives listed below target the same upper body muscles as tricep dips, and more. If you’re looking for more intense exercises and still enjoy the benefits of traditional tricep dips, start performing the exercises below:
Close Grip Bench Press
The close grip bench press effectively targets your triceps while improving your pressing ability in the bench press. Because of its narrow hand position, this alternative also increases your range of motion, resulting in better endurance and mobility. These qualities make the exercise an excellent substitute for tricep dips.
Decline Bench Press
Performing the Decline Bench Press will place you in an angle to better target and tone your pecs. We highly recommend this alternative if you’re looking for an exercise that helps you build more muscle mass and stabilizes your pecs faster.
The diamond push-up is another bodyweight exercise that improves the mechanics of your triceps. The close hand position of the diamond push-up requires greater stability and range of motion. Because it doesn’t require any equipment, the diamond push-up is an excellent option for home workouts.
Plate Pinch Press
As the name suggests, this exercise will require weight plates. It targets the muscles in your inner chest to a great degree and places very minimal strength on the joints of your upper body. These reasons make the plate pinch press a safer alternative to traditional tricep dips.
Another safer alternative to the tricep dips is the cable press. This exercise places very minimal stress on the shoulders but still targets and tones the triceps and pecs.
If you’re not yet ready to dip into a full set of traditional tricep dips, then don’t worry! You’ll need some time on your regressed version. Luckily for us, we have plenty of options that can help strengthen all those muscles affected by this exercise while still allowing progress with other exercises like push-ups and bodyweight rows.
Dips are simple, can be performed anywhere, and are very effective in toning up your arms and improving muscle mass. It may take a while to master the movement, but always pay attention to your form because when performed well, it will be your fast-track ticket to awesome arms!