Tricep dips are compound exercises, which means that these involve two or more joints that help to develop the muscles on the back of the arm, the tricep brachii (long, lateral and short heads). These exercises can be performed at home on a bench, chair or step. Alternatively, these can also be performed on specialist equipment in a gym. What makes tricep dips such a great exercise is the fact that it involves other muscle groups like the shoulders, back, chest and core. The triceps are responsible for elbow extensions and assist in shoulder and elbow rotation. Dips will strengthen and add muscle to your arms. Here is how to do a proper tricep dip:
- You will need two dip bars. These bars should be parallel, fixed and stable. Otherwise you can use a secured bench or stable chair.
- For the bench or stable chair, you can position your hands shoulder-width apart on a secured bench or stable chair. Slide your bum off the front of the bench with your legs extended out in front of you. Straighten your arms, keeping a little bend in your elbows to keep tension on your triceps and off your elbows.
- Slowly bend your elbows to lower your body towards the floor until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Be sure to keep your back close to the bench.
- Once you reach the bottom of the movement, press down into the bench to straighten your elbows, returning to the starting position. This completes one rep.
- Keep your shoulders down as you lower and raise your body. You can bend your legs to modify this exercise.
- For the dip bars, grab the bars and jump up. Balance yourself with your elbows kept in a little bend. Lower your body down by bending your arms. Lean with your torso slightly forward.
- Lower your body down until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle. Lift your body back up to the starting position by straightening your elbows.
- Balance yourself with your shoulders over your hands.
Have a look out for these common errors people make during the tricep dip
- Leaning forward too much. This is a common mistake that puts the emphasis on lower chest rather than the triceps.
- Performing the movement too quickly. This doesn’t allow you to fully recruit as many muscle fibres as you should.
- Swinging legs. Helps with the exercise but defeats the purpose of developing of your triceps.
- Hands wide apart. This shifts stress from your triceps to your chest.
- Dipping too low down. This will put unnecessary stress on your shoulders and may cause an injury.
If you lack the strength to do a single dip, do it on a bench or chair with your knees bent or do negatives. (With negatives you skip the way up for now and only do the way down – we are stronger on the way down.) Start off slowly and if you struggle remember that practise makes perfect!
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