Triceps Dip

Exercise Name:
Name: Triceps Dip
Muscles Worked:
Primary: Triceps
Secondary: Chest, Shoulders
Function: Strength
Mechanics: Compound
Force: Push
Main: Bodyweight
Ancillary: Dip Station
Optional: Dip Belt
Experience: Beginner
Rep Range: 6-12
Training Tempo: 1 – 0 – 1 – 0
Related Exercises:
Variations: Chest Dip, Assisted Dip, Weighted Dip, Bench Dip
Alternatives: Bench Press, Close Grip Bench Press, Push Up

Instructions with Pictures

Note: Pictures coming soon!

1. Starting Position

  • Use a shoulder width grip to grasp dip handles.
  • Hoist body up; extend elbows until arms are straight and supporting body.
  • Keep torso as upright as possible throughout the lift.
  • Keep legs approx. perpendicular to floor; don’t bend knees.
  • Maintain neutral spine position.

2. Eccentric Repetition

  • Flex elbows and extend shoulders to lower body until elbows are 90° and upper arms are parallel to floor.

3. Midpoint

  • Don’t pause at the top of the rep. Start lowering body right away.

4. Concentric Repetition

  • Extend elbows and flex shoulders to lift body until elbows are locked and arms perpendicular to floor.

5. Repeat

  • Repeat the triceps dip motion for as many repetitions as is called for.
  • I’ve found the 5-12 rep range to be optimal for this exercise. However, you’ll probably have to start with fewer reps per set when first learning the technique.

Common Triceps Dip Errors to Avoid

Mistake: Solution:
Going below 90° Lower your body to the point where your shoulders are just lower than your elbows, but don’t allow your elbow joint to go lower than a ninety degree angle. Dipping too deep can mess up your shoulders, acutely or over time.
Flaring elbows Keep your elbows in to your sides; as close to your torso as possible. Flaring your elbows takes the focus off the triceps and puts it onto the chest.
Flexing hips Don’t bend at the hips by bringing your thighs up. This causes your torso to lean forward, which in turn transfers the focus from the triceps to the chest. Keep you hips straight, such that your upper legs are perpendicular to the floor.
Bending knees Keep your legs straight (a very slight is okay, but no more). Bending your knees causes your body to lean forward, which as I’ve mentioned above, shifts the tension onto the chest.
Lowering body too fast Slowly lower your body until your elbows reach 90°. This should take about 1-2 seconds; certainly no less than 1. Going at a slow pace on the negative serves to purposes: to allow the triceps work by resisting your bodyweight, and to prevent momentum from lowering your body too far down (and thus, potentially hurting your shoulders).

Triceps Dip Tips

  1. If using angled dip bar handles, face in the direction of the narrower end so that your wrists are angled slightly inward. This position is maximizes triceps stimulation and minimizes wrist discomfort.
  2. Keep your chest up high, shoulders back and look forward at all points in the range of motion. This keeps your torso relatively upright (it will lean forward some at the bottom), which intensifies the focus on the triceps.
  3. Keep elbows in close to body. I mentioned this before, but it’s important enough to mention again because you won’t target your triceps if your elbow position is off.
  4. Focus on activating/contracting the triceps to ensure they – and not the chest or shoulders – are the primary mover. You should feel the triceps working hard on both the concentric and eccentric portions of the motion.
  5. Cross your ankles and squeeze your glutes and inner thighs (while still keeping knees straight). This increases your force output while protecting your back.
  6. Challenge yourself by adding weight. Once you can do the triceps dip for 12+ reps with your bodyweight, it’s time to make the exercise more challenging. Buy a dip belt to attach weight to your body; put a dumbbell between your legs; or wear a backpack with weights in it.

Is This Exercise Right for You?

The triceps dip is suitable for weight lifters of all experience levels.

For beginners, this exercise can serve as an excellent supplement to the barbell bench press.

However, if you’re a beginner, you may have insufficient upper body strength for this exercise. If that’s the case, then your best bet is to use assisted dips

…Or, if you can do at least one or two unassisted bodyweight dips, you can keep practicing them and build up to 8+ reps in just a few weeks.

For intermediate and advanced trainees, the triceps dip is right for you if your goal is to build bigger and/or stronger triceps. However, you will have to eventually add weight or do other dip variations to keep challenging your muscles.

You may need to avoid the triceps dip if you have shoulder or scapular issues.

About the Author Alex

Hey! My name is Alex, and I'm the owner and author of King of the Gym. I started this website back in late 2009 during college, and it has been my pet project ever since. My goal is to help you learn proper weight training and nutrition principles so that you can get strong and build the physique of your dreams!

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: