There's an array of exercises at the gym, but none are more controversial than tricep dips. Some believe they are the #1 workout for building strong triceps, others believe it's one of the most dangerous exercises at the gym. Here's the thing: if you have good form and listen to your body, they can be very effective and you will minimize your chances of injury.
Tips For Safe Tricep Bench Dips
1. If you have a history of arm/shoulder injuries or are feeling any pain in your elbows or shoulders this is not the exercise for you. Listen to your body and be smart. You want to train hard, but make sure you can continue to train! We suggest you try tricep pushups instead, but if you are still experiencing any pain please seek the advice of a medical professional. If you are under the care of one, also be cautious to ensure you are adhering to their advice.
2. Stabilization is key to safe tricep bench dips. There are variations out there utilizing stability balls and such, but keep in mind that this can cause a lack of stability that will also lead to an increase in your chances of injury. When doing any tricep dip, engaging your core will also help ensure stability.
3. Hand placement can mean a world of difference. To mimic the motion of tricep dips done with bars you can place your palms facing knuckles out, ie. fingertips pointed out to the right and left on the respective hands not gripping the bench facing forward. This will open up the shoulders and allow for a better range of motion. A small number of people may be more comfortable with a facing forward hand position gripping the bench, so be sure to do what ensures stability and mobility for you.
4. Never place your hands more than shoulder-width apart. Follow this same rule of thumb when positioning your feet, keeping them hips-width apart. This will provide solid alignment. Adjust your hip height according to the level of workout you seek.
5. Don't neglect your other muscles. When doing exercises that isolate a specific muscle group we want to make sure we are getting a balanced workout. Over-developing one muscle and not its corresponding muscles will cause an imbalance that can lead to injury. We recommend incorporating exercises that work the other surrounding and connected muscles. Some examples of these exercises are chin-ups and lat pulldowns.
6. You've probably heard before that posture is important, this is no exception. Once in position, pull your shoulder blade back and together and try to maintain this position throughout the up and down motion.
7. Lastly, don't lock your elbows. This type of tricep dip will be fully engaged throughout the fluid up-down motion if you continue with a little cushion of the elbows. Don't create a hard stop by locking your elbows at the top.
Alternatives to the Tricep Dip
If you prefer to avoid tricep bench dips, there are alternatives. Check out these 8 videos below of tricep exercises that don't involve bench dips.
Transverse Tricep Extension
Tricep Dumbbell Gauntlet
Reverse Grip Tricep Extension
Hammer Grip Tricep Extensions
Incline Cable Tricep Extension
Overhead Tricep Rope Extension
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