Assisted Triceps Dip Exercise Guide
Obviously, when performing body weight dips, you have to start with your body weight. For many guys this will be challenging enough. You can make things easier by using less then your body weight if your gym has a assisted triceps dip machine. So let the knee pad on the assisted dip machine take part of your weight as you build strength. While this is okay to start with, we recommend that you wean yourself from the machine sooner rather then later.
What is assisted dip/pullup machine?
The assisted dip (assisted pull-up) machine is unique in that the weight stack does not provide resistance against you as it does in other machines. Instead, the resistance is used to assist you in performing body weight exercises that you would otherwise be unable to perform, either at all or in the necessary rep range. In other words, more weight makes the exercise easier, because this particular machine ads as a counterweight to the individual’s body weight.
Assisted dip (pull-up) machines usually consist of a platform that you either stand or kneel on, a bar or handles to pull yourself up to, and the weight stack which gives you the resistance. A few years ago, assisted pull-up machines using an air compressor/hydraulic system were popular, and they can still be found in some older gyms, but these have largely been phased out by the more compact, less expensive plate-loaded version.
Assisted Triceps Dip Exercise Instructions
STARTING POSITION (MACHINE SETUP):
- Select the appropriate resistance on the weight stack.
- Rotate the lower bar handles inward. Grip the parallel bars with your palms facing each other (neutral grip).
- Lower the knee pad and lock it into place if assistance is desired.
- Stand on the foot plates and grip the lower bar handles.
- Place the knees on the pad while stepping off the foot plates.
- Keeping the back straight and the head up throughout the movement, bend at the elbows and shoulders to lower the body in a controlled and smooth fashion until the upper arm in horizontal (parallel to the floor).
- Keep the upper arm angles at approximately 45 degrees from the torso.
- Return to the starting position, following the same path used for the downward movement.
- When finished, remove one knee from the pad while it is in the down position and step onto the foot plate. Remove the second knee when the pad gets near the top position.
Additional Tips & Key Points to Remember
- If you keep your torso straight up and down, the stress is shifted to your triceps. Leaning forward makes the chest muscles do more work.
- Keep your elbows as close to your sides as possible as you bend them to lower your body down until your upper arms are about parallel to the floor.
- Flaring your elbows out wide allows the chest muscles to assist.
- Press your hands forcefully into the bars to extend your arms and raise your body back up.
- To isolate the triceps brachii, keep motion at the shoulders to a minimum. Movement should occur primarily at the elbows.
- Common mistakes: too short a range of movement, getting help from the chest muscles by opening the elbows, poor torso position during the movement, and locking the elbows when the arms are extended.
Muscles Engaged in Assisted Triceps Dip
The angle of your upper body during the dip will dictate which muscles you target more. An upright torso will focus the work on your triceps while leaning forwards shifts it to your chest.
- Main muscles: triceps, pectoralis major (lower), front deltoid
- Secondary muscles: pectoralis minor, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, subscapularis, anconeus
- Antagonists: latissimus dorsi, biceps, rear deltoid
Exercise Variations / Substitutes
- Parallel bar triceps dips – body weight dips
- Bench dips – dips behind the back
- Seated machine dips
- Band-assisted triceps dips
Take a look on our big tricep exercise database filled with detailed instructions, images and video.
Dips were discussed earlier under chest exercises. They are an extremely versatile exercise, but are usually thought to benefit the chest muscles. By changing your body position, however, you can work the triceps very effectively. In other words, you have to keep your body as vertical as possible to keep emphasis on the triceps and away from the chest.
You should feel like you are “straightening” your arms rather than “pushing.” To achieve this, you need to keep your elbows close to your sides, allowing them to point back as your lower yourself.
All of the previous comments about unassisted exercise also apply. Assisted triceps dips are appropriate for beginners, as well as for advanced athletes who want to do a lot of reps and/or avoid swinging the body and improve their technique.