Bench dips are one of the most effective bodyweight exercises you can do at home, the gym, and outside to target and grow your triceps.
Plus, trainees can tweak the movement to fit their current abilities, making it a fantastic option for beginners and advanced gym-goers.
Read on to learn what the exercise is, how to do it safely, its benefits, and more.
What Are Bench Dips?
Bench dips are a bodyweight exercise where the objective is to place the hands on an elevated and sturdy object, such as a flat gym bench. From there, the trainee must extend their body forward, which would position the hands behind the torso.
Once in position, the triceps must do most of the work for the trainee to descend and return to the top position.
The deltoids also play an active role as they provide support at the shoulder joints. Core muscles, including the rectus and transverse abdominis, are also involved, as they stabilize the whole body during the activity.
Bench dips are a fantastic exercise to do before attempting the bodyweight tip. The movement builds tricep and shoulder strength, allowing trainees to suspend themselves in the air and use their upper body musculature to ‘dip’ and push themselves back to the top.
How to Perform Bench Dips (Step-By-Step)
Things to keep in mind:
- Engage your core
- Be mindful of shoulder discomfort
- Use a sturdy object
- Use a slow and deliberate motion, as the down position will put some strain on your wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
Step-by-Step Bench Dips
- Face away from a sturdy object, such as a gym bench, plyo box, or chair.
- Place your hands on top of the elevated object, close to its edge.
- Walk your feet forward to extend your body and position your arms behind your torso.
- Straighten your legs (or a slight bend) and support your lower body on your heels.
- Bring your shoulders back, take a deep breath, and engage your abs.
- Slowly lower yourself by bending your elbows.
- Move down as comfortably as you can, pause briefly, and push through your hands to extend your elbows as you exhale.
The Benefits of Bench Dips
One notable benefit of bench dips is that you can do the exercise almost anywhere, so long as you have a chair or a similar object. Just make sure to position it against a wall so it doesn’t slide back and cause you to fall mid-set.
Another benefit of the movement is that it strengthens all three heads of the triceps by allowing trainees to use their body weight as resistance. (1)
The movement is also simple to scale and fit your current abilities. We’ll briefly go over some modifications next.
In Conjunction With Other Triceps Exercises
Bench dips are a great exercise to work in conjunction with other triceps exercises. So a bi-set using bench dips.
So perform rope pulldowns or V-bar pushdowns, followed immediately by bench dips. This is a killer tricep workout, and should definitely be part of your complete upper arm workout regimen.
Tweaks and Variations of the Bench Dip
Complete beginners can start with floor dips, where the objective is to sit on the floor and have their hands flat on the floor and behind the body.
In contrast, more advanced trainees can do bench dips with their feet elevated on another similar object––a chair, gym bench, etc.
There is also the option of adding an external load. If the bodyweight bench dip feels too easy, trainees can place a weight plate on their thighs to increase the difficulty.
Safety Tips and Final Considerations
As with most exercises, the first thing all trainees must do is warm up well before training. Doing so prepares the muscles, joints, and connective tissues for physical work, improving performance and reducing the injury risk. (2)
Your warm-up could be as simple as some light cardio, dynamic stretching, and a couple of less challenging sets of bench dips.
Second, always use a sturdy object for the movement, if possible, secured against a wall to prevent sliding.
Finally, do each repetition slowly and with proper form. Monitor for any discomfort in your shoulders, elbows, or wrists, and stop the set if you feel pain. Only lower yourself as much as you comfortably can and never to the point where you feel anything besides muscle fatigue or a burning sensation. (3)
Also check some additional dips posts:
- Triceps brachii. Physiopedia. (n.d.).
- Elizabeth Quinn, M. (2020a, March 13). Prevent Injuries. Verywell Fit.
Hussain, J., Sundaraj, K., Subramaniam, I. D., & Lam, C. K. (2020, January 30). Muscle Fatigue in the Three Heads of Triceps Brachii During Intensity and Speed Variations of Triceps Push-Down Exercise. Frontiers.