5 Ways to Make Tricep Dips Harder

  • March 12, 2020
  • / By Tom

Tricep dips are a solid free weight choice to build up strength and muscle in your chest and triceps, but what do you do when they’ve become too easy. You will find several great ways to make tricep dips harder below. 

How to make tricep dips harder

Photo By: Eric Astrauskas

Increase Your Resistance or Reps

Perhaps the most obvious way to make triceps dips harder is to increase either the resistance or the number of reps you can do. 

Having an easy time doing 3 sets of 10 on the dip stand? Try going with 4 sets of 10 or 12. The increase in volume can certainly make it more challenging. 

Adding resistance on dips can be tricky, so just be sure you are doing it safely. Adding an exercise band or dip belt with weight can greatly increase the resistance. 

My guess is if you are visiting this page, it is because you want ideas beyond “do more”. Below are a few more of your options on how to increase the difficulty of tricep dips.

Focus on the Eccentric

How you perform an exercise can be just as important as how many you can do. Even without changing the resistance, you can make each rep more challenging. 

Varying the tempo of the exercise is a great way to make tricep dips harder. Slowing down the eccentric (lowering) portion of the dip can really make the muscles fire.

Try a steady lowering to a 5-count, followed by an explosive concentric (raising) part of the lift. If you are new to eccentrics, know that they can fatigue your muscles greatly and slow the recovery. To begin, start with performing slow eccentrics on only your final set of the workout and working up from there. 

Eccentric muscle training has a host of potential strength and athletic benefits. You can also vary the speed on the concentric portion of the lift or incorporate isometrics at various points on the dip. 

Go for Time

Instead of having a rep goal, you can have a time goal. Set a time goal of 60-90 seconds or more and see how many quality reps you can get in that time. 

Keep pushing in further workouts to increase the number of reps. Once you’ve stagnated on the number of reps, try increasing the time limit or adding some resistance. 

If going purely for a time goal isn’t your thing, perhaps using tips with a Tabata timer can be done. This consists of repeated sets of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest.

Aim for a Rep Goal

Rather than going for a certain number of reps in a set, why not a total number of reptitions in a workout? You can set a goal for the day and aim to hit that.

These don’t all have to be in one set. Just set a daily dip goal and don’t leave the gym until you have hit that number. Take as much rest as you need in between reps. 

Say you set a daily goal of 100 reps. Let’s say you can do 30 reps before needing a break. Then you can do 20 more before resting. You just need to get 50 more reps for the day, whether it is sets of 10, 5, or even 1 at a time.

This daily goal can give you a big number to aim for. Subsequent workouts can increase the difficulty by increasing the goal amount, or trying to complete the same number of reps, but in fewer total sets. 

Switch up the Exercise

While dips can be great, they are hardly the only exercise that targets the chest and triceps muscles. Rather than trying to make dips harder, why not just try a different exercise that will challenge those muscle groups?

There are many great alternatives exercises to dips. You can hit the chest and triceps muscles in a number of different ways, with or without machines. Mixing it up can make those muscles stronger for when you do decide to return to the dip stand. 


You don’t need to choose all of these options for your next workout to make dips more challenging. Try 1 of these for your next program and go from there. Once you have adapted to that, you can go on to some of the other options.