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Master Tricep Dips to Build Bigger, Stronger Arms

Dips are simple; they’re effective; they look bloody cool and they pack on slabs of muscle. So why aren’t you…

By admint10m , in Arms , at August 1, 2021

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Dips are simple; they’re effective; they look bloody cool and they pack on slabs of muscle. So why aren’t you doing more of the king of tricep exercises?

Tricep dips, bodyweight dips, bench dips — whatever you call them, they’re a tried-and-tested bodyweight exercise that can thicken your arms without a dumbbell in sight.

Having said that, they can take a while to master and you’ll want to pay attention to your form the whole way through the movement. But, master the tricep dip and it’ll be your fast-track ticket to bigger arms. And why’s that, we hear you ask? Surely you should be concentrating on your biceps, right? Hell no. The tricep makes up approximately 60% of your upper arm, meaning that this bodyweight staple is crucial to building T-shirt-straining muscles.

“Dips are an excellent movement to build size, strength and power into the triceps,” explains, body-transformation coach, Charlie Johnson. “[Having] some variation of dips within a training programme is a wise idea if you’re looking to develop this muscle group and improve your pressing strength.”

But that doesn’t mean you can start repping out tricep dips to the point where there’s no muscle tissue left to tear. You’ve got to start somewhere. Here, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the tricep dip — from regressions and progressions to injury risk and workouts to try. Follow our advice and we’ll have you grinding out reps in no time.

man during workout in the gym

Tricep dips are one of the most effective bodyweight exercises for building bigger arms

JunGetty Images

The Benefits of Tricep Dips

As you’d expect, tricep dips smoke your tricep muscles, which are made of three ‘heads’ (the long, lateral and medial head), but they do so much more than that and can also be an effective move for your chest, shoulders and core too.

Not only that, because tricep dips are a bodyweight move, they can be done anywhere. Usually they’re performed on parallel bars, at a ‘dip station’, on gymnastic rings, or a weight bench or a pull-up station, but if you’re stuck at home with none of the above, two sturdy chairs will do the job just as well.

If (or when) you reach a point where standard tricep dips feel like a breeze, there are always ways to progress the movement. You can add additional weight using a dip belt or a chain to make the movement harder. Alternatively, you make them easier by attaching a resistance band to the dip station or gymnastic rings, or you can just use a chair to support your lower-body.

You can even tweak the exercise to slightly adjust which muscles you’re working.

To hit your triceps: keep upright with elbows tucked in.

To hit your chest: lean forward and let your elbows flare out slightly.

Simply put, tricep dips are the daddy of bodyweight arm exercises.

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How To Do a Tricep Dip

Mastering the tricep dip isn’t just about grabbing two bars, propping up your body and letting gravity do half the work before you wobble upwards. Instead, it’s about keeping the muscle under tension. Here’s how to nail it:

  1. Grab your bars with your palms facing inward and your arms straight.
  2. Slowly lower until your elbows are at right angles, ensuring they stay tucked against your body and don’t flare out.
  3. Drive yourself back up to the top and repeat.
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      Best Tricep Dip Variations

      best chest exercises

      Bench Dips

      1. Position your hands shoulder-width apart on a weight bench, wall or chair.
      2. With your palms on the bench and knuckles pointed towards your feet, extend your legs in front of you.
      3. Push upwards to the starting position, then slowly lower your body until your elbows are at right angles.
      4. Keep your elbows as close to your body as possible and maintaining tension, hold for a second at the bottom of the movement.
      5. Press down into the bench to straighten your elbows and return to the starting position.
        1. leg, muscle, arm, barechested, sitting, human body, knee, elbow, furniture, abdomen,

          Box Dips

          1. With your hands on a box, support your weight with your arms.
          2. Shift off the edge, lowering your body until you feel a stretch across your chest.
          3. Push back up hard. Try a count of three down and one back up.
            1. leg, human leg, human body, chin, wrist, chest, elbow, shoulder, physical fitness, standing,

              Ring Dips

              1. With the gymnastic rings set shoulder-width apart, get a full grip on the rings with your palms facing inwards.
              2. Start with your arms extended and push down into the rings to support your body.
              3. Drop your chest forwards and move your elbows back to lower in the movement — your shoulders should descend lower than your elbows and hands stay close to your body.
              4. Reverse the movement to push yourself back up.
                1. Tricep Dips: What’s the Injury Risk?

                  Because it’s a bodyweight movement, the risks associated with tricep dips are low. However, as Johnson explains, there are a couple of ways to make the exercise even safer.

                  “If you’re not controlling the movement and staying with your active range where you feel comfortable, you could be putting your pecs and shoulder muscles into a weakened position,” Johnson explains.

                  “The main cue I would suggest is that everyone should focus on not ‘bouncing’ out of the bottom of the movement. Instead, think about getting to the bottom of the dip, hold for a millisecond, then consciously contract your muscles to lift you up out of that position.”

                  Tricep Dips: The Common Mistakes

                  If you want to get the most out of tricep dips make sure you avoid these common beginner mistakes.

                  Leaning Forward

                  As we mentioned before, leaning forward during dips makes the move chest dominant, which is great if you’re working your chest, but not so good if you’re looking to pump up your arms.

                  Dipping Too Low

                  You want to stay within a comfortable range when doing dips. That way, you won’t be putting your pecs or more likely your shoulder muscles under any undue strain.

                  Locking Your Elbows

                  You’re meant to be maximising your time under tension with dips. All locking your elbows at the top of the movement is going to do is release that tension, so don’t do it.

                  High Shoulders

                  You don’t want to be too hunched up and tight doing dips. Try to keep your shoulders down and stay relaxed.

                  How to Build The Strength for Tricep Dips

                  Everyone has to start somewhere and not having a complete set of dips — never mind several, solid sets — is completely normal. You’ll need to start a regressed version of the movement to build strength for a full set of traditional tricep dips.

                  Bench dips, for example, are a safer and easier way of building strength. Alternatively, you can use the fixed-weight machines at your local gym to build the strength needed for tricep dips. “A great place to start… would be with a dip machine, where you can sit down and push the weight down, not using your bodyweight. This will allow you to start with a lower weight than bodyweight and progress up,” says Johnson, who believes that a solid set of dips “can be progressed fairly quickly over a 12-week training programme.”

                  The Smoke Your Triceps with Dips Workout

                  Below, Johnson has pieced together a four-part superset workout that’s designed to smoke your triceps and build bigger arms ASAP. In each superset, you’ll go from move A to move B without any rest, hitting the prescribed sets and reps.

                  1.Seated Dumbbell Curl into Duel Dumbbell Tricep Extension: 4 sets of 12 – 15 reps

                  Dumbbell Curl

                  • Sit on a bench, hold two dumbbells at arms length and let them rest by your side.
                  • Use your bicep to curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders.
                  • Slowly lower them back down to your side and repeat.

                    Dumbbell Tricep Extension

                    • Sit on a bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand directly above your head.
                    • Slowly flex your elbows and lower the weights behind your head as you keep your upper arms still.
                    • Extend your arms and repeat.

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                      2. Seated Dumbbell Hammer Curl Superset into a Bench Dip: 4 sets of 12-15 reps

                      Seated Dumbbell Hammer Curl

                      • Sit on a chair or bench and hold two dumbbells down by your side.
                      • Keep your palms facing inwards and upper arms still, and flex your elbows to bring the dumbbells to shoulder height.
                      • Lower them back down and repeat.

                        Bench Dips

                        • Stand facing away from a bench, grab it with both hands at shoulder-width.
                        • Extend your legs out in front of you.
                        • Slowly lower your body by flexing at the elbows until your arm at forearm create a 90 degree angle.
                        • Using your triceps, lift yourself back to the starting position.

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                          barbell, shoulder, deadlift, exercise equipment, free weight bar, arm, human leg, physical fitness, weightlifting, bodybuilding,

                          3. Tricep Dips (Bodyweight Or Weighted) Superset into a EZ Bar Curl: 4 Sets of 12- 15 Reps

                          Tricep Dips

                          • Grab the bars of a dip station with your palms facing inward and your arms straight.
                          • Slowly lower until your elbows are at right angles, ensuring they stay tucked against your body and don’t flare out.
                          • Drive yourself back up to the top and repeat.

                            EZ Bar Curl

                            • Hold the EZ bar in front of your thighs on the innermost grips, with palms facing away from you.
                            • As you breathe in, curl the bar until your hands are at your shoulders.
                            • Squeeze your bicep, then lower under control.

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                              Human body, Human leg, Shoulder, Standing, Joint, Chest, Elbow, Wrist, Knee, Physical fitness,

                              4. Tricep Rope Extensions Standing Superset into a Cable Bicep Curl: 4 Sets of 12 -15 Reps

                              Tricep Extension

                              • Attach a rope handle to the high pulley of a cable station.
                              • Keeping your elbows tucked in at your sides grab the handle.
                              • Tense your core and bring your hands down until your arms are fully extended, then return to the starting position. Only your forearms should move.
                              • Fight the urge to move your elbows or hips to make sure it’s just your triceps shifting the weight.

                                Cable Bicep Curl

                                • Hold a cable bar with underhand grip, shoulder width apart.
                                • Use your biceps to flex your elbows and raise the bar to your shoulders.
                                • Lower it back down to your thighs and repeat.

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