The triceps dip, when done correctly, is an excellent bodyweight exercise if you’re looking to build arm and shoulder strength. This simple yet powerful exercise can be done virtually anywhere and has several versions to match your fitness level.
Benefits of Dip Exercises
The triceps dip is one of the most effective exercises for strengthening your upper arm’s triceps muscles. Additionally, to reap the most of this exercise, you must engage your core as you perform the move. That said, you want to keep your body balanced.
While dip exercises primarily build bigger and stronger triceps, they also work the chest, shoulders, and back. Acting as a compound movement, dips are among the best exercises for increasing overall upper-body strength and size. Many health and fitness enthusiasts believe they’re as essential to building full upper-body strength as the Bench Press and Pull-Ups.
Keep these common errors in mind so you get the most from this exercise and avoid injury next time you decide to give it a try.
Always keep your shoulders down and away from your ears. Try to maintain a straight line from your neck down your back throughout the exercise.
Dipping Too Low
Be mindful of the tension on your shoulders. Don’t go any lower if you start to feel heavy pressure. You may risk a potential shoulder injury.
Don’t lock your elbows at the top of the move. They should be slightly unflexed to focus the tension on the triceps.
When you lean forward, you are shifting the focus to your chest rather than your triceps. Keep your body balanced and maintain a straight line without leaning forward.
Find a stable chair, bench, or step.
- Sit on the edge of a bench (or chair), put your hands on the edge next to your hips. Make sure your fingers are pointed at your feet. Extend your legs, keeping your feet about hip-width apart with just your heels touching the ground. Chin up, look straight ahead.
- Push up with your palms to lift your body and slide your behind forward so that it clears the edge of the bench.
- Steadily lower yourself until your elbows are bent, keeping your core engaged (45 and 90 degrees).
- Gently push yourself back up to the original position.
- Start with 3 sets of 10 reps and increase your sets and reps over the next few weeks as you start to build muscle and strength in your upper arms.
Dips Workout Variations
Depending on your fitness level, you can modify the triceps dip to make it more or less challenging. If you can’t do 10 reps with your legs extended, you can adjust the bench dip to reduce the intensity. Try to do the movement with bent knees for the easiest variation.
Limiting how far you lower your hips reduces the amount of stress you put on your shoulders during the move. Over time, as you develop strength, you will be able to do the full extended-legs dip.
Bench Dip With Knees Bent
Set your hands on the bench behind you with your feet flat on the floor, keeping your knees bent. Lower gently as far down as you can, then press back up vigorously. This is the beginner-friendly variation because the amount of your bodyweight you have to lift is supported by your legs’ position.
Bench Dip With Legs Raised
Set your hands on the bench behind you with your feet on a slightly lower platform with knees bent. Lower slowly as far down you can, then press back up vigorously. Having your feet raised increases the amount of bodyweight you have to work with, making this a more challenging version.
Parallel Bars Dip
Grip parallel bars (overhand grip) and lift your body until your arms are straight (do not lock your elbows). Keeping your chest up and your core squeezed, lower your body slowly and press back up vigorously. This is a classic triceps dip, and mastering it will help you build size and strength to your upper arms.
Parallel Bars Dip With Weights
Put on a weight belt, attach weights to the belt, grasp parallel bars using an overhand grip, and then lift your body until your arms are straight. Keep your chest up and your core engaged, lower slowly. Once you can manage to perform three sets of ten parallel bars dips, don’t just stick to the same slow and controlled tempo; consider adding extra weight to your reps – literally.
Dips are a fantastic bodyweight exercise that works the triceps and other upper-body muscle groups. While most fitness enthusiasts tend to focus more on their biceps, the triceps are actually a much larger muscle group and should get the same attention. So, if you really want to build size, ignoring the back of your arms won’t get you there. Add triceps dips to your upper-body workouts and challenge yourself to try the variations above.