Tricep Dips – Best Practices, Tutorial, Breakdown, Do’s and Don’ts


These dips are great for developing your triceps. Unfortunately, most people perform chest dips and believe they are building their arms and are not. Make sure you are doing tricep dips correctly with this tutorial.

The Importance of the Tricep Brachii

Triceps are a group of three muscles, Long, Lateral, and Short Heads, in the rear of the arm. Triceps are typically twice as large as the biceps and are responsible for shoulder and elbow rotation. Your triceps play an essential role in weightlifting as they are a support muscle in many compound exercises. Tricep Dips are a compound movement where the primary muscle utilized is the Triceps. Performing dips regularly will help strengthen, build both strength and size in your arms.

Tricep Dips Overview

  • Primary Muscle(s) Worked: Triceps, Brachii
  • Other Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders
  • Equipment: Dip Stand
  • Mechanics Type: Compound
  • Force: Push
  • Utility: Basic

Target Muscles Used for Tricep Dips

  • Triceps, Brachii

Synergist Muscles Worked When Performing Tricep Dips

  • Deltoid, Anterior
  • Pectoralis Major, Sternal
  • Pectoralis Major, Clavicular
  • Pectoralis Minor
  • Rhomboids
  • Levator Scapulae
  • Latissimus Dorsi

Stabilizers Worked When Performing Tricep Dips

  • Trapezius, Lower

Dynamic Stabilizers Worked When Performing Tricep Dips

  • Biceps, Brachii

How to Properly Perform Tricep Dips

  • Grip the dip bars about shoulder-width apart, with your arms straight and your shoulders above hands.
  • With hips straight and elbows close to the body, inhale while lowering your body until your shoulders are slightly stretching and your upper arms are just below parallel to the floor.
  • Push body up while exhaling until your triceps are fully contracted and locked out.
  • Repeat.

Caution Needed Performing Tricep Dips

If you’re not sure if you can lift your body weight when first performing this exercise, use a spotter. If you feel or have any elbow or shoulder pain while performing this exercise, stop. There are plenty of other movements which deliver success without such risk.

Tips for Performing Tricep Dips

  • Keep body straight up and down. Don’t lean forward as this will work more of the lower chest, and is known as chest dips.
  • Keep elbows close to your body. Don’t grab bars that are too wide as this will again shift the stress to your chest.
  • Add weight for extra resistance. If you can perform more than eight reps, add a weight belt or hold a dumbbell between your feet.
  • Leg positioning. You can keep your legs straight, bend them or cross them as long as the upper body stays upright.

Common Errors While Performing Tricep Dips

  • Leaning Forward. This common mistake emphasizes your lower chest muscles rather than triceps.
  • You Have Your Hands too Side Apart. Shifts stress from triceps to chest.
  • You are Dipping to Low. Will put unnecessary stress on your shoulders and may cause an injury.
  • You Swing Your Legs. Using moment by swinging will defeat the purpose of developing your triceps by performing dips.
  • You are performing the Movement too Fast. Performing the movement too fast doesn’t allow you to utilize as many muscle fibers fully. Additionally, if you slow down, you will gain time under tensions. As a result, you will breakdown your muscle fibers more, so you can build stronger muscles with fewer repetitions.

Variations of the Tricep Dips

  • Assisted Triceps Dip. Use a machine that either has a kneeling or standing assistance platform. Adjust the assistance weight and perform the exercise the same as detailed above.
  • Lever Triceps Dip. Sit on seat with back against the pad; place handles in the narrow position. Push handles down with elbows close to the body. Return to starting position until shoulders are slightly stretched. Repeat.
  • Bench Dip. Perform by placing your hands on the edge of the bench. Start with your arms straight and your shoulders above hands. Next, place your heels on the floor or adjacent bench/box with legs straight. Lower your body until you feel a slight stretch in your shoulders or chest. Press your body up and repeat.

Additional Exercises to Compliment Tricep Dips

  • Barbell Lying Triceps Extension is a basic utility exercise with an isolated push movement. When you perform tricep extension, you can incorporate a close grip bench press between triceps extensions. Adding the compound exercise of close grip bench press will enhance the development of your triceps.
  • Dumbbell Kickback is an auxiliary exercise that places more intensity on your triceps. Kickbacks have a push force movement that isolates your triceps. For that reason, kickbacks are a great exercise to compliment any triceps compound exercise.
  • Cable Pushdown can be either a Basic or Auxiliary movement; This cable exercise uses a push movement that Isolates your triceps. Consequently, pushdowns are an excellent exercise that allows for resistance on the negative (return) part of the action. When you utilize the negative resistance and slow your movement, you will amplify your overall triceps development.


You can complete tricep dips after chest workout or add them in as part of triceps workout. One of the best times to complete the tricep dips is at the end of your chest workout. Because your pecs are already fatigued, and less likely to be involved when doing dips.

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