Dips are a great exercise to incorporate into your workout routine. Not just to isolate the triceps but build upper body strength, strengthen the abs, and target the chest (to a lesser degree, and dependent on the angle you maintain your upper body). The great thing about training in general is that its progressive. Say you currently can’t do any dips, there are ways to get you there. You can try a few things to help build up your foundation.
1. Partial reps – do as many 1/4 or 1/2 reps as you can, getting a full lockout in the arms at the top. Hold for a quick 2 count on every rep.
2. Negatives – starting from the top position, try to move in a controlled manner to the end of the movement as slow as you can, aiming for 7-10 seconds. Do 3-4 reps, then rest for 1-2 minutes.
3. Machine or bench dips – using either the assisted dip machine or a bench (while you keep your heels or feet on the floor) greatly lessens the load you’re lifting and can help progress your strength gains. Aim to do 8-10 reps, emphasizing 3-4 seconds on the negative portion of the movement. The time you can keep the muscles under constant tension will help build and strengthen them.
What I used to do to challenge myself was throw in staggered sets of dips. What I mean by that is doing a set or three on leg day or back day, just to force the muscles to adapt to the continuous load I would put them through. After a few weeks, I went from 7 to 25 and felt pretty good about the jump in reps! Its like a lot of things in life, and not just the gym, consistency is key.
The video above shows proper form and ROM (range of movement) to fully stretch the triceps and hit all three heads of the muscle (hence, the name ‘tri’-cep).
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