Triceps dips are an effective bodyweight exercise that helps develop shoulder and arm strength.
They can be done anywhere, as they don't require any equipment, and the exercise also has several variations as per an individual’s fitness level. Also called bench dips, machine dips, box dips, or chair dips, this exercise is technically an inverse push-up. It requires you to position your stomach up, and bend your elbows to target your triceps, core, delts and pecs.
You can add triceps dips to your upper body exercise and use progressive overload or more advanced variations to make it harder and more challenging. However, if you have an arm or shoulder injury, dips may not be the right exercise for you.
How To Do Triceps Dips?
- Start by sitting on a bench, chair, box or step.
- Hold the front edge of the chair with both your hands keeping them outside your hips and with your fingers facing towards the floor.
- Slowly lift your body so that your hips reach the edge of the chair.
- Keep your legs straight, and try pressing your toe to the floor to engage your glutes and quads.
- Contract your midline, and pull your shoulders away from your ears.
- As you inhale, lower your body towards the floor, and bend your elbows straight back.
- Continue to lower yourself till your forearm and biceps form a 90-degree angle.
- As you exhale, push yourself up, and return to the initial position.
Consider following these tips if you're doing triceps dips for the first time.
- Always keep your neck stable, and do not move it while lowering your body.
- Squeeze, and retract your shoulder blades together to avoid your shoulders from rounding forward and preventing your lower back to get into a compromised position.
- To make this exercise more challenging, try crossing your right ankle over your left knee or vice versa while dipping towards the floor.
Benefits of Triceps Dips
This exercise is one of the most productive ones for targeting and strengthening your triceps brachii muscles located on the back of the upper arm. Moreover, it can also strengthen your shoulders and chest muscles.
As this exercise requires you to hold your hips off the floor without any balance, it works on the core muscles and helps strengthen them. This exercise is easy to perform and can be done at various intensities to ease pressure or make it more challenging, depending on your fitness level.
When performed incorrectly, though, triceps dips can lead to pain and shoulder impingement. It's always best to start slow with three sets of eight to ten reps and gradually increase your reps and sets over the weeks as you develop strength and muscle in your triceps and shoulders.
Common Mistakes To Look Out For
Although this exercise is easy and doesn’t involve any equipment, there are some mistakes to watch out for when doing it:
Not lowering your body enough
If you're doing partial reps and not going low enough, you're not fully targeting your triceps. To avoid that, make sure you use full range of motion and go down till your arm gets parallel to the floor, and both your elbows form a 90-degree angle.
Flaring out your elbows
When doing this exercise, don't allow your elbows to flare out to the sides, as that'll shift the entire focus from your triceps to your shoulder muscles, leading to injury and muscle strain. So, ensure that your elbows are properly tucked throughout the exercise.
Wrong shoulder position
Always keep your shoulders away from your ears, and make sure your neck is straight and long throughout the movement of triceps dips. Don't hunch your shoulders or neck.
Going too low
If you lower your body too much and move too low when performing triceps dips, you're likely putting too much unnecessary pressure on your shoulders. To avoid that, stop lowering your body when your arms get parallel to the ground.
If you're a beginner, always start slow with tricep dips, and consider doing eight to ten reps in three sets. Increase your reps slowly as you become stronger, and don't overexert your muscles.
This compound exercise can put pressure on your shoulders and elbows, so be very cautious if you have any pain in these muscles. Also, remember to avoid triceps dips if you have an injury to your shoulders or arms. Stop immediately if doing this exercise causes pain or any discomfort.