Whether you just need some variety in your training program or are too weak to get much out of them, it is a good idea to look for alternatives to dips. The exercises below can substitute for dips to either give a new stimulus or to build up your dip strength.
Dips can be a problem area for many lifters. One one hand, they are one of the best exercise for building mass and strength in your arms. On the other hand, like pull-ups, they can present a challenge for both novice and overweight lifters because they require you to be able to lift your entire bodyweight with just one muscle group, in this case the triceps.
Even if you are a star at the dip, it is good to use alternatives. Doing any exercise too much can cause your gains to slow or even stop. Your body will adapt to the stress placed on it and will need a new stimulus to continue to progress.
Dips have also been known to cause some significant pain in the elbows for many people, even when using strict technique. This could probably be explained by the way dips stress the shoulder and elbow joints, which can lead to some wear and tear that can be quite painful.
The close grip bench press is one of the best lifts for targeting the triceps muscles. This consists of simply performing a traditional bench press, but with a much closer grip than usual. You can vary the distance, but typically it is done with your hands inside the knurling of a barbell. In general for the bench press, the closer your arms get, the more the triceps are worked. As you widen your grip, there will be more of an emphasis placed on your chest muscles.
Dumbbell kickbacks are one of the best triceps exercises for limiting overall stress on your body, because they specifically target the triceps muscles without invading any other body part significantly. Kickbacks are performed bent over a bench, with 1 arm resting on the bench.
The other arm uses a dumbbell to perform the exercise, which you can see demonstrated in the video below. It is important to not move the entire arm when doing this lift. The upper arm stays in place and the lower arm should be the only part moving.
The lying tricep extension is another great substitute for dips. Another common name for this is Skulls Crushers. You can see why it is important to use a reasonable weight with proper technique in the video below. Simply put, you don’t want to risk anything when you are holding a weight over your head.
In this exercise, you hold a weight directly overhead while lying flat on your back on a bench and, keeping your upper arms still, lower the weight towards the side of your head. The video below shows the extension being done with 2 dumbbells, but it can be done with a single dumbbell, a barbell, or a curl bar.
Push ups and all of the variations are actually a great exercise for targeting the triceps muscles. Similar to bench press as stated above, a closer grip on push ups targets the triceps, while a wider grip will hit the chest muscles more. With diamond push ups, you form a diamond using the index finger and thumb of both of your hands.
You will really feel this variation in your arms. You can see what a diamond push up looks like as demonstrated in the video below. You can also try altering your hand setup to vary how your muscles are targeted.
Cable pulldowns are another great exercise to use as a substitute for dips. Considering they use a cable machine, they are very easy to learn and change the resistance. This also makes it easy to progressively overload your arms and continue to increase muscular size and strength.
You can see a demonstration of the exercise in the video below. You can get creative and try different types of attachments that you can find in your gym. You can even try different kinds of single and double arm attachments as well as reverse grips, if it makes sense.
Whether you are in need of a new challenge in your arm workout or are just too weak to be able to perform them correctly, any of these alternatives to dips can be a great choice for improving the overall size and strength of your triceps.
Photo By: stroopsmma