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Triceps Bench Dips – Benefits & How to Perform Them

The triceps bench dip is an awesome tool for packing on size – not just in the arms, but also the chest and shoulders, too.

It is a bodyweight exercise, so you won’t need any fancy gym equipment to get started.

In this guide, you will find out how to perform triceps dips with a bench, which muscles they work, what equipment you will need, and discover some awesome alternatives to try.

Triceps bench dip benefits

As a compound exercise, the triceps bench dip works multiple muscle groups, simultaneously. It is a great upper-body exercise which targets the chest, triceps, and shoulders.

Another benefit is its versatility: you can programme to make dips easy or challenging, making the triceps bench dip an excellent choice for all fitness levels.

Finally, the bench dip is easier to do than the parallel bar dip. The parallel bar version requires you to lift your entire body weight, whereas the bench dip only requires you to lift some of your weight.

How to perform the triceps bench dip

The Set-Up

  1. Decide where you will be performing the bench dip. If using stairs, ensure that your surroundings are clear and safe. For those opting to use a park bench, make sure it is quiet and you are not preventing someone from sitting down!
  2. With your hand by your thighs, sit on the bench (or stair), resting your hands on the surface.
  3. Move your legs away from you (kind of like you are walking away from where you are sat) and lift your bum from the bench/stair.
  4. Beginners can keep their feet flat on the floor, but as you advance, you should rest on your heels to prevent using leg drive to push yourself up.
  5. Turn your palms so that your hands are facing away from your body, and keep your shoulders back.

Performing the triceps bench dip

  1. Once you are in position, take a breath in and slowly lower your body towards the ground while exhaling. Do this for a two to three-second count.
  2. Aim to lower yourself until your arms form a 90-degree angle.
  3. Once at the bottom, hold for a second, and then push yourself back to the starting position, taking a breath in as you do. Try to “explode” up. This means pushing yourself up faster.
  4. Moving your legs further away from your body will make this exercise more intense, so use this trick to increase the challenge as your strength improves.

Common Mistakes

Internal shoulder rotation

Internal shoulder rotation is where your shoulders rotate inwards. This causes the shoulder structure to compress which can lead to injuries.

To prevent this, face your fingers outwards and focus on keeping your shoulders back and don’t hunch them up towards your neck.

Not dipping low enough

For maximum benefit, exercises should be performed with a full range of motion.

Partial reps have their place, but in general, you should lower yourself to 90-degrees to get full triceps engagement.

However, if you have existing shoulder issues, then go as low as you can comfortably.

Rushing your reps

If you see this exercise as a chore, you won’t reap the rewards you seek. You should take your time with each rep to perform it properly.

By doing this, you will develop better mind-muscle control and also reduce the risk of injury.

Elbow flaring

Your elbows should be close to your body during the entire move.

Flaring them out to the side causes more internal rotation and moves tension to the shoulders which can lead to injury.

Going too low

While you want to utilise the full range of motion, it is possible to overdo things.

If you go too low, you put extra stress on the shoulder joint. Ensure your arms are parallel to the floor at the bottom of the move.

Programming

Which days to incorporate the triceps bench dip?

  • When performing full-body workouts you can include the triceps bench dip on any day.
  • During a push/pull/leg routine. The bench dip is a pushing exercise, so will fall on push days.
  • For upper and lower splits, include this on upper-body workout days.
  • If you’re using a body part split, it will most suitably fit on arm days, but can also be programmed for shoulder days.

How many bench dips to build triceps?

  • Reps: because this is a bodyweight exercise, it is best to perform in the 10 – 15 rep range
  • Sets: 3
  • Rest: leave 60 – 90 seconds rest between sets.

Once you are hitting the maximum reps, you can add weight.

The ideal solution is with a cross bench dip.

Simply perform the same routine, but use a cair or another bench to support your feet. Now you can place a dumbbell or weight plate on your lap for added resistance.

What else do I need to know?

Many bodybuilding and strength training routines focus too much on the front delts. Not nearly enough attention is paid to the rear delts and rotator cuff.

It is crucial that while programming this exercise that you allow time to strengthen both your rear delts and rotator cuff.

If you fail to do this, you will end up with an imbalance which will eventually lead to issues and injury.

Some great exercises to include in your routine are face pulls and rear delt dumbbell flyes.

Muscles Worked

The triceps are the primary muscles worked during a bench dip, however, as this is a compound move, other muscle groups get a workout, too. The anterior deltoid (or front delts) is the front part of your shoulder. This shoulder muscle, along with the pecs, will also feel the burn towards the end of your set.

Other muscles such as the lats and abs play a minor role; while engaged in the movement, there is not enough load for dips to strengthen and build these particular areas.

Equipment Required

  • Weight bench – this is the ideal solution
  • Stairs – if you don’t have a weight bench, you can use the stairs as an alternative.
  • Park bench – get some fresh air and hit the local park for your workout!
  • A second bench or chair – if you are performing the cross bench variation.
  • Dumbbells or a weight plate – once you begin to add resistance, you will need some weights.

Triceps Bench Dips Alternatives

If the bench dip for triceps is not doing it for you, you can try some alternative versions. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, so try them all and see which one works best.

Check out these variations and let us know what you think in the comments section.

  • Chair triceps dips
  • Machine triceps dips
  • Floor triceps dips
  • Parallel bars dips

Robin is the founder and CEO of Fitness Savvy. As a freelance writer he has written for publications such as Muscle & Strength, Sparkpeople, Inquisitr and many more. If he's not collating product reviews or working directly on improving the website, he is creating innovative content for the website's blog and Fitness Savvy YouTube channel

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