Every so often, I go over my workout routine, and I revamp it by going in search of smarter workout options for each muscle group designed to give me better results in half the time.
As I got to my triceps and upper torso, I asked myself the question “Chest dips vs. Triceps dips: What’s better?” Surely enough, I found my answer – Triceps dips were better. I explain why below.
Are Dips Better for Triceps?
Admittedly, the chest versus triceps dips argument has been one of those long-standing and raging debates in the fitness, wellness, and bodybuilding arenas for years. Many reasons can be attributed to this reality.
For starters, there is the reality that chest dips and triceps dips are similar workout exercises that are designed to zero in on the upper and lower chest and triceps region of the body.
Additionally, the Triceps are among the trickiest parts of the body to get into great shape – particularly for women. All of these realities combined beg the question – ‘are dips better for Triceps?’
Here are some reasons why they are:
1. They are a more targeted exercise
Triceps dips, like Chest dips, also target various muscles of the chest and upper region of the torso. However, Triceps dips zero-in a little more on the Triceps than Chest dips, thereby making it a better-suited exercise for that muscle group.
2. They offer more variety and modified versions
Another one of the biggest reasons Triceps dips are better than Chest dips is the variety that they offer. That is, Triceps dips have more modification options for beginners and intermediates. Even better is the fact that these modifications can be done in the comfort of one’s home – for example, using a chair to ‘bench dips’ modifications.
Special Equipment: What to Use for the Best Triceps Dips
There are many variations of Triceps dips that can be done. Many modified variations are done in gyms and home workout rooms everywhere. Fitness magazines sometimes have modified versions that can be done with sturdy chairs and tables of an appropriate height.
However, there are still ways to up your triceps game using equipment built for dips at the highest levels of intensity.
For those who wish to take their Triceps dips to the next level, investing in a portable dip station or otherwise securing regular access to one will prove very useful.
As you use your dip station and body weight and you continue to get stronger, you may need to add more weight to your Triceps dip routine. There are two primary ways you can do this.
You can use dip belts as a start to add some weight to the exercise. From there, you can proceed to add even more weight through ankle weights.
First Things First: The Need for an Effective Upper Body Routine
Upper body workouts are essential for developing overall fitness as well as maintaining a healthy and fit appearance. Still, if we are not careful, the upper body is the easiest part of the body to neglect without deliberate efforts to the contrary. Here’s why.
The truth is we use our lower body (i.e., legs and core) far more than our upper body during our daily lives. Additionally, most exercises and workouts – from cardio to strength training and bodybuilding exercises – naturally engage our lower bodies too.
Consequently, we are naturally more likely to be engaging those lower body muscles far more frequently and at higher levels of intensity than our upper body.
On the other hand, we use our upper body far less. As such, we have to make a deliberate effort to engage our upper body to a similar degree of intensity and frequency as we do our upper body. Strength training and muscle or bodybuilding exercises that target the upper body and torso will prove useful in this regard.
Super Useful Dips Tips: Do’s and Don’ts of Maximizing Your Triceps Dips Routine
1. Pay attention to good form
Proper form is everything where effective fitness and bodybuilding routines are concerned. This is particularly true the higher up in weight and difficulty that you go. The truth is, a lack of right or proper form is dangerous, and can easily result in debilitating injuries.
On the other hand, practicing great form not only keeps you safe and injury-free, but it also ensures that you get the most out of the exercise. In other words, Triceps dips that are done with great form increase your muscle building capacity per rep.
As such, you can get better results with fewer repetitions and great style than you would with high repetitions and weak or ineffective form.
2. Be smart with your repetitions
Unsurprisingly, it is easy to think that the more repetitions of any given exercise you do, the better your results will be in that area of your body or fitness. This is not necessarily so. For starters, as intimated above, repetitions and form go hand in hand.
Therefore, it may be better to lower the number of repetitions you do of specific exercises (like Triceps dips) and focus on doing the exercises more slowly with good form.
As you get stronger going at a slower pace with fewer repetitions, one can begin to go faster and then opt for adding more repetitions to increase the difficulty level and subsequent results.
3. Watch your “fat” weight
Due to the nature of Triceps dips, especially when using a dip station, being lighter and having less body fat can help make the exercise less strenuous on the body. This is particularly important to remember when one is in transition.
That is when one is getting into bodybuilding and fitness after losing weight and leaving a more sedentary lifestyle behind. As one loses body fat and builds muscle, Triceps dips become more comfortable to execute, and you begin to do so with better form each time – thereby, maximizing your results.
4. Eat smartly
Unsurprisingly, if you are working to build muscles, then it is vital that you are eating well. There are meal plans and tips that can help you opt for meal items and times that are conducive to muscle building and fat loss.
Consistently following these meal plans and tips can help you enhance your results by being the perfect complement to your workout routine. Of course, these meal plans and tips can (and often do) include taking supplements.
5. Use a schedule
Being consistent in all areas of your bodybuilding or fitness plan is what will make all the positive difference in how effective your Triceps dips and other workout exercises will be. For starters, doing your Triceps dips consistently will help to get you leaner and stronger over time.
Developing a schedule will help you make Triceps dips a habit as they become a part of your self-care and workout routine.
6. Take a holistic approach
Finally, taking a holistic approach is essential in getting the ultimate results you desire. A holistic approach requires looking at your total health and making your overall wellness a priority.
This will go way beyond Triceps dips and workouts. Instead, it will also include eating well, sleeping enough, and practicing minimizing stress.
Eating well, generally, will mean reducing one’s intake of processed foods, sugars, and salts, while increasing one’s consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, water, lean meats, and other healthy proteins and fats.
Getting enough sleep is critical as it is during sleep that your body repairs itself. Additionally, sleep will help reduce the amount of stress in the body which can hinder muscle growth and fat loss and instead lead to undesirable weight gain.
Triceps Dips Workouts For All Levels
Of course, your given fitness level and level of experience working out – beginning, intermediate, or advanced – will be determining factors in how you will include Triceps Dips exercises into your workout routine.
Experience and fitness will determine everything from the equipment you use, how much weight you add (or do not add), as well as the number of repetitions you do.
Additionally, they also determine the form that exercise will take. As intimated above, there are modified options available. Below, we take a closer look at how you can implement Triceps dips into your routine depending on your fitness and experience level.
Triceps dips can be particularly difficult for beginners. As such, beginners will be better off getting started with bench dips until they become stronger and can better do Triceps dips with proper form.
To do bench dips, here’s what you’ll need:
– Get a sturdy bench or chair
– Position hands shoulder-width apart on the bench with your back towards the bench or chair
– With your legs extended in front of you, slide your buttocks off the bench or chair while keeping your arms straight except a slight bend at the elbows
– To do your first dip, bend your elbows slowly toward the floor until you get to about 90 degrees and your upper arm is parallel to the floor
– From this 90 degrees angle push against the bench or chair to straighten your arms again
– Returning to the preparation (or starting) position counts as one repetition
- Beginners can start with one to three sets of 15 repetitions. Once you get to the stage where you can complete three sets with 15 repetitions
PRO TIPS: Be sure to keep your lower back close to the bench or chair throughout all repetitions. You’ll know you have gotten to the final repetition when you cannot do any more full repetitions without sacrificing form.
Intermediates are beginners who have grown stronger and can begin challenging themselves some more. Therefore, intermediates can do the above beginners’ bench dips routine while considering the following to increase the difficulty level.
Importantly, increasing the difficulty level usually means adding more resistance through either dynamic body positioning or adding weights – or both. Here’s how each option works:
Dynamic Body Positioning
- To make this exercise more challenging than the beginners’ option, lift on leg off the ground for each set. You can opt to alternate the lifted leg by set or repetition
- Simple ways to add weights to the above beginners’ routine and make it more challenging include adding weights at the waist through a band, having a weighted ball on your lap/thighs during the routine, or wearing ankle weights.
Doing Both (Body Position Modification and Adding Weights)
- Importantly, one can wear ankle weights or a weighted waistband and still opt to modify your body position by lifting one of the legs (either while wearing ankle weights or wearing a weighted belt or band)
- Of course, one can always opt to keep the beginners’ routine and add repetitions instead of weight or modifying the position of the body. One can choose to add repetitions by increasing the number of repetitions per set and keeping the number of sets at three or adding an extra set of 15 repetitions. Either way, the added repetition is sure to provide you with the much-needed challenge.
PRO TIPS: Due to the fact that the aim is to strengthen the Triceps and the muscles of the chest to help you eventually include traditional Triceps dips to your workouts, one thing intermediates can do is add 1 conventional triceps set dips – starting with a small number of repetitions – and work their way up to 15 repetitions.
Intermediates can continue to incrementally increase their Triceps dips until they can do at least two sets of 15 repetitions.
Once intermediates can do a full two sets of 15 Triceps dips with good form, then it is time to move to the next level, that is the advanced level. Of course, the first step for advance dippers is to get to three full sets of 15 repetitions with good form. From there, the next stage is to up the ante by increasing the difficulty level. Here’s how to advance your Triceps dips routine:
Get to 3 full sets
- After being able to do two complete sets, advanced persons should do three extra Triceps dips and continue to increase incrementally until they get to three full sets of 15 repetitions
- Once the advanced person has gotten to three complete 15 repetitions sets of Triceps dips with good form, he or she can begin to add weights to the routine. Weights can be added through a wearing a dip belt or ankle weights, as well as opting to wear both.
PRO TIPS: When adding weights, be sure to start with lighter weights and add them to the first set of the routine. From there, work to complete the three sets at that weight range before opting to increase the weights.
Once you can complete three sets of 15 Triceps dips each with weights and with good form, then you can begin increasing the weight for set one and start working one’s way up to three sets again. Of course, one can also opt to add a fourth set at the lighter weight class simply.
Dip Belts vs. Ankle Weights: More Tips for Adding Weights to Your Triceps Dips Routine
Admittedly, both dip belts and ankle weights can add much-needed resistance to a Triceps dips routine. However, they each do so in very different ways and have their pros and cons.
For example, one of the great things about dip belts is that once one has one, it is merely a matter of adding various weights like dumbbells or weight plates to the belt. This means that one only has to purchase a dip belt once and then modify the weight from there on out.
On the other hand, ankle weights can be a little different. In some instances, ankle weights are already weighted when they are purchased and cannot be altered in the same way that a dip belt can be.
As such, if one wants to increase the heaviness of the ankle weights, one would have to go and purchase a new pair of ankle weight. These purchases can add up over time.
Still, ankle weights can prove to be convenient thanks to how they are worn on the body. That is, the weights are wrapped around the ankle, as opposed to having the weights hang from the body as is the case with a dip belt, thereby presenting a possible danger to the person who is wearing it.
It is essential when wearing a dip belt that the dumbbells or weight plates that are being used are correctly attached to the same to avoid and unnecessary spills and unfortunate accidents. Whether you opt to use ankle weights or a weight belt, weights are a sure way to help you get the most out of your Triceps dips routine.
This article I wrote based on research and my own experience. Any constructive comments are welcome!
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