Bench Dips – Compound Exercise for the Triceps

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Bench Dips – Dips Between Two Benches

If you have trouble performing dips on parallel bars, the modified bench dip is a good alternative. This bodybuilding exercise works all three heads of the triceps and pectorals as well as the anterior deltoid (front shoulders). It’s important to say that dips are one of the few compound exercise for the triceps because both shoulder and elbow joints are used. Resting weights on the top of the thighs increases the difficulty and intensity of the dip. For the easiest bench dip variation, keep both feet planted on the floor near your body. Between benches variant is a little more difficult and is the first step toward using weight (weighted bench dips).

Bench Dips Exercise Guide

STARTING POSITION (EXERCISE SETUP): Place two exercise benches side by side, 3 to 4 feet apart. Sit on the end of a bench and hold on the edge of the bench with your arms shoulder width apart, fingertips facing forward. Your fingerprints should be off the bench. Plant the backs of your heels firmly on the facing bench, about 6 inches in from the edge. Your butt should be suspended slightly in front of your hands. Your body will be suspended in the shape of an L—legs parallel to the floor and torso erect.

Dips Between Two Benches

Dips Between Two Benches

EXERCISE EXECUTION (MOVEMENT): Slowly bend your arms (elbows) and lower your body (torso) toward the floor. Go as low as you can without touching the floor – at least until your upper arms reach parallel with the floor (until your elbows form an angle of 90 degrees). Then slowly extend your arms, raising yourself back to the starting position.

To make it easier don’t lower yourself all the way down or keep one foot on the floor to help push your body back up. To do it harder keep the elbows close to your side or place a dumbbell or weight plates on your lap.

Bench Dip Key Points (Helpful Hints)

Correct technique has to be maintained while performing this triceps exercise for it to be effective. Doing dips dips between two benches incorrectly may lead to injury or lack of achievement of your bodybuilding goal. It is therefore crucial that one performs this exercise using the proper form in order to achieve the best from this great exercise.

  • Lower your body below the level of the bench. Stop when your elbows reach 90 degrees (don’t let your glutes touch down to the floor).
  • Avoid allowing your elbow to migrate away from your side. Keep your elbows directed backwards during both the lowering and raising phases.
  • Lower your torso vertically, keeping your back close to the bench by bending your elbows backwards and controlling the extension of the triceps.
  • Look for your body to remain close to the bench; your weight should primarily be translated through your hands, not your feet.
  • Avoid rounding your back, sliding your hips away from the bench.
  • Your spine should descent in a straight line, parallel to the bench.
  • Vary the width of your hands until you find the position where your triceps muscles work the most.

Muscles Involved in Bench Dips

Just like parallel bar triceps dips, this exercise will primarily focus on all three heads of the triceps. We guarantee you that this exercise will help you achieve those big and ripped horseshoe triceps that you are looking for, thus adding inches to your arm girth.

  • Main muscles: triceps, pectoralis major (lower), front deltoid
  • Secondary muscles: pectoralis minor, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, subscapularis, anconeus
  • Antagonists: latissimus dorsi, biceps, rear deltoid

Bench Dip Variations

  • Bench dip with weight plate (weighted bench dip) – sit on the bench a place a weight plate (or dumbbell) in your lap. If you use several weights, you can ask a partner to remove them one by one as you approach muscle failure. This allows you to do some truly heavy and difficult sets.
Weighted Bench Dips

Weighted Bench Dips

  • Bench dips – heels on floor – For the easiest bench dip variation, keep both feet planted on the floor near your body. This is the easiest version of exercise because the angle and placement of your legs will support more of the body weight, meaning that your arms have less weight to shift, thus making the exercise easier. Once you’ve become familiar with the normal bench dips and you’re up for a challenge, you can progress to bench dips with elevated legs.
Bench Dips - Heels on the Floor

Bench Dips – Heels on the Floor

Replacement Exercises

Closing Thoughts About Bench Dips

Bench dips are a good general upper body exercise and ideal training for the bench press. In this exercise, you perform a “dipping” motion without using dip bars. Bench dips (also called reverse dips) are done with your feet placed on a bench. Compared to parallel bar dips, these dips are much easier to do because some of the weight from your legs is removed. For people who have not yet mastered parallel bar dips, reverse dips are a good way to get stronger.

How far down you go will be influenced by the strength level and the health of your shoulder joint. Ideally, you want your shoulder joints below your elbows, but this range may not be possible at first. And, depending on the length of your arms and the height of your benches, you may hit your butt on the floor before you even go this far. If you lack strength or have shoulder-joint issues, use a limited range of movement. If you are unable to do this triceps exercise without pain, skip it altogether.

It is not always easy to truly focus the work on the triceps muscles since the shoulders and the chest also assist with the movement. As with upright bar dips, the key to this exercise is to keep the torso leaning back and elbows close to the sides. As soon as the torso tilts forward and the elbows flare out, the larger chest muscles take over. Also, be careful not to bounce at the bottom of the exercise, as this places excessive stress on the shoulder joint.

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