Tricep bench dips are one of the simplest and most effective bodyweight exercises that you can do. They are a super exercise to build, harden, and strengthen your triceps.
The movement is relatively simple to learn, you can do it at home, and it offers plenty of benefits. And the pushing motion using your full body weight creates some great resistance that engages a wide range of muscle groups.
So, if you’ve been wondering if you should do tricep bench dips, how to go about them, and how to fit them into your training, read on. We’ll break it down for you.
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What Makes Tricep Bench Dips So Great?
Tricep dips on a bench are one of the best exercises you can do to work your three-headed triceps muscle (the back of your upper arms). The movement genuinely isolates your triceps and forces them to work hard to extend your elbows. (1)
Plus, this dip variation is fantastic because you can do it almost anywhere at any time. So long as you have a solid bench (or something similar), you’re good to go. You can also add tricep bench dips as part of your home workouts.
For example, you can do a tricep exercise at home with dumbbells first, then follow up with tricep bench dips without resting in-between. We call this a bi-set, and it’s a tremendously effective workout. Doing so would be a superset, and doing dips after another tricep exercise will thoroughly exhaust the muscle group and force growth.
Performing Tricep Bench Dips
Steps to Perform the Tricep Bench Dip:
- Position your palms on a bench or low table as shown above. This is the start position.
- You can have your feet elevated on another bench or object (as shown), or on the ground. Both ways yield a great workout, but the higher your feet the more resistance. You can also keep your legs straight, or have a slight bend. I perform them both ways, and they’re equally effective.
- Slowly lower your body to the down position. Lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
- Push up to return to the start position. This is one rep.
- Perform 5-20 reps depending on your strength and fit level, and always use proper form first and foremost. It’s a simple exercise, but you can still sustain an injury if you get sloppy.
What Muscles Does Tricep Bench Dip Work?
The movement is fantastic because of many reasons. Perhaps the best one is that it trains a range of muscle groups and builds whole-body stability and athleticism.
Specifically, the bench dip trains all three heads of your triceps – the long, lateral, and medial heads.
Bench dips also work your shoulders (particularly the front deltoid head), chest (pectorals), and serratus anterior. But tricep dips also involve your core because all of the muscles in your midsection work hard to keep you stable and in position. (2)
In essence, the tricep bench dip is a whole-body exercise you can do at home, in the office, or just about anywhere. They are an excellent exercise to work your upper body as a whole, not just your triceps.
Triceps Make Up 2/3 of Your Upper Arm
Although biceps get more attention, triceps make up two-thirds (2/3) of your upper arm mass. So always important to give your triceps equal attention on upper arm exercises.
They also work your shoulders, so if you’re a guy looking to improve your shoulder width, the bench dip is a very solid exercise.
Tricep Bench Dip Variations
There are many bench dip variations that you can include in your workout. These are mainly used to increase the resistance, and achieve more muscle activation.
Using a chair to do a chair dip is one example of a variation. So in this variation, your palms might be facing each other (depending on the chair), versus a standard bench dip when your palms face to the rear. This results in working the triceps from a slightly different angle creating some needed variation.
You can also put your feet on a chair or bench so that they are elevated. This increases the resistance making the bench dip harder.
Weighted Plate Bench Dip
Another option is to place a weight on your thighs. This further increases the resistance, and you can use the weight whether your feet are elevated or not. You just need to be careful with your feet on the floor using a weight, as the weight can easily slide off if you are not careful.
But the weighted plate bench dip is a great way to add significant resistance and make the exercise harder. It requires a harder push to get to the up position, and increases the tension on all the activated muscle groups.
All of these variations are a great way to increase resistance on your triceps. Always start slowly and increase resistance overtime. The triceps, like any muscle, can be pulled or strained with exercise. So always air on the side of caution, as an injury can set you back weeks and even months.
Safety And Important Considerations
The tricep bench dip is a fantastic exercise, and offers many benefits. But we also need to go over some safety tips and considerations for the movement.
First, always make sure that the bench or object you are using can support your body weight. The last thing you want is to get into a bench dip position, only for the supporting object to collapse or fall back, leaving you to fall on the floor. Plus, that can lead to a serious shoulder injury.
It’s best to have your chair against a wall if using a chair. That way, you prevent the risk of it sliding away from you. (3)
On that note, it’s also essential to have a good grip on the chair or other object. The chair might be stable, but it won’t do you any good if your hands slip and you end up hitting your back and head on it.
And finally, always make sure to warm up well before training. You can start with some light cardio to get your blood flowing, then move to joint-specific warm-up.
Specifically, you’ll want to spend extra time on your wrists, elbows, and shoulders. This small investment will optimize your performance and drastically reduce your risk of injuries.
Tricep bench dips will put strain on your shoulders and wrists, so make sure to do arm and wrist rotations to fully warm up.
Summing It Up
The tricep bench dip is a powerhouse triceps exercise that will increase your fitness level, and work multiple muscle groups for building lean muscle and increasing muscle tone. Make sure to err on the side of caution in order to avoid injury.
And remember, the triceps make up two-thirds of your upper arm, so this is a must exercise in your triceps rotation! And they are great in combination with other triceps exercises.
The bench dip is simple motion, and can be done anywhere and anytime. You just need a solid and stable base to work from, whether it’s a low table, bench, chair, or some other object. Over time, it will give you stronger arms as well as improved shoulder strength.
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- Davis, N. (2020). How to do bench dips – and why you should. Healthline.
- Maloney, L. (n.d.). Bench dip exercises. LIVESTRONG.COM.
- Follow-up q and a: Dangerous dips. ACE Fitness. (n.d.). https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/1657/follow-up-q-and-a-dangerous-dips/.