How to do triceps dips?

Triceps dips are a simple yet highly effective exercise which does not require any special equipment. You can perform either on a bench/chair or got to your local park and find a set of dip bars. Even though it is a straightforward exercise there are a few tricks you should know to get the most out of it.

The primary muscle group worked in this exercise and its variations are triceps, however, you would be activating other muscle groups such as the upper chest, your trapezius, and biceps.

Bench/Chair Dips

Whether you are just starting to train at home or want to get some pump in your triceps before you put on a tight shirt and head to a club – bench/chair dips are definitely worth looking into.

Benefits of the chair dips:

If you are new to training, I would recommend opting for the bench/chair dips rather going straight to the bar dips for a few good reasons:

– Easier on your stabilizing muscles – by placing your feet on the ground or another chair you would have way more control of your body throughout the whole movement.

– You can isolate your triceps – since your body is locked in place by your feet you can really put the focus on your triceps.

– Less stress on your wrists compared to other variations – because you can grab the edge of the bench or chair your wrist is in a more natural position.

How to:

– Grab a stable chair or a bench for this variation.

– Position your hands at a shoulder-width so that your palms are next to your hips.

– Keep your elbows tucked in throughout the whole movement

– Bring yourself down until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.

– Push yourself up and slowly lock out your elbows at the top of the movement.

– Breathe in on the descent and breathe out on the ascend.

Hand positioning

You can bring your palms closer or wider depending on what you find comfortable. Not everyone has the necessary shoulder mobility to perform this exercise at various widths.

How to get a peak contraction?

While a fair few articles out there will tell you not to lock your elbows so that you could keep the tension on the muscle, I find that way to be suboptimal. It may be good for building a bigger muscle but not a stronger one.

The function of the muscle > Looks

I would recommend locking your elbows out slowly at the top of the movement, that way you would be exercising through the whole range of motion rather than building a shorter muscle. Best way to do it is to push yourself back and squeeze the muscle.

You will notice the difference between not fully extending vs leaning back and contracting the muscle straight away. Just remember not to snap your elbows but to slowly lock them out and focus on squeezing the muscle.

How to increase the resistance without weights

As you get more advanced you will be able to perform a higher number of quality repetitions, to shift the focus from endurance training towards muscle and power building you should increase the resistance.

There are a few different ways you can do it:

– Feet on a chair – grab another chair or a bench and begin by balancing your body on the two by placing your feet on one and palms on the other. You can have a slight bend in your knees or keep them completely straight.

– Dumbbell, weight plate, a bottle of water on your legs – this is also a good way to learn how to brace your core during training!

– Your mate sitting on your legs – you chose which way he will be facing.

Bar Triceps Dips

The parallel bar dips are far more challenging than your bench dips. There is going to be far more pressure on your wrists, shoulders, and your stabilizer muscles. You can find your parallel dip bars in your local park; most gyms will also have a dedicated dip station.

How to:

– Grip the handles so that your palms would be under your shoulders and just outside of your hips.

– Use a full grip for this exercise (your thumb should be wrapped around the bar too).

– Keep your forearms straight throughout the whole movement.

– Push your shoulders back and down and keep them there.

– Lower yourself to around 90-degree angle.

– Lift yourself up and slowly extend your elbows at the top of the movement.

– Breathe in before you start the dip and breathe out at the top.

How many reps should you perform?

For muscle growth, I would recommend doing somewhere between 6-8 repetitions. If you can easily perform 8 reps with correct form, then you can gradually increase the resistance.

What if you cannot do a dip?

There are a few ways you can strengthen your upper body up to a point where you can perform an unassisted bodyweight dip:

– Start off with the bench dips and gradually build the strength up.

– Do negative dips- this is a variation where you would slowly lower yourself from the top position but would not push yourself back up.

– Resistance Band – you can always grab a resistance band and wrap it around the handles. This would allow you to decrease the resistance and focus on the perfect form while still training the muscle.

Should you do this exercise at the beginning or the end of the workout?

I would recommend doing this exercise at the end of the workout. Bodyweight dips are quite taxing on your shoulders, wrists, and stabilizers. You cannot gradually warm up with this exercise, you just jump straight to training with your bodyweight.

So, to reap the most benefits and avoid the risk of injury, save this exercise for later in your workout.

How to increase the resistance in Parallel Bar Triceps Dips?

Here are a few ways I would recommend:

– Weighted vest – the great thing about using the weighted vest to increase the resistance is that you can add a 1 kg plate to the vest every week! In addition to that, the weight is on top of you rather than underneath you, which makes it easier on your shoulder by reducing the swinging.

– Dip Belt – the most common way of increasing the resistance in training, you can use weight plates or kettlebells.

– Your mate hugging you – recommended only for the most advanced athletes out there.

Common Mistakes:

– High Shoulders – by relaxing your shoulder you are risking an increased chance of injury. Keep them back and down throughout the whole movement.

– Leaning Forwards – it will shift the focus from your triceps to your chest.

– Not locking out or not going low enough – you will achieve the best results by exercising through the whole range of motion.

– Going too deep – you will not get any additional stretch on your triceps by going too low. In fact, you will be risking injuring your shoulders.