Daily Archives: January 21, 2011

The Perfect Tricep Dip

Happy Fitness Friday friends!! Today’s post is a continuation of my “Perfect Series.” This is where I choose one tricky exercise and go over how to execute it properly. Here are the exercises we’ve already covered:

The Perfect Push Up
The Perfect Plank
The Perfect Squat
The Perfect Lunge

We’re continuing with the bodyweight exercises to one move I constantly see people butcher – the tricep dip.

I love this exercise because it requires no weights, just a flat elevated surface. It works those smaller arm muscles using your bodyweight, and as a result gets your heart rate up a little too. Much more fun than just standing there swinging a small dumbbell back and forth.

Tricep DipSource

The above is the beginners version of the exercise. Honestly, most people are at this level. Your triceps are a group of small arm muscles that for the most part haven’t yet been built up to support your bodyweight. Yet!

Things to remember when doing a tricep dip:

  • Put your hands behind your butt, and not next to your hips.
  • Keep your elbows parallel. They should be the same width apart as your shoulders. Never let them float to the sides.
  • Again, make sure your elbows are pointing to the back wall – not the sides!
  • Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • Stop when your elbows are at 90 degrees and come up until your arms are straight, but don’t lock your elbows out.
  • Don’t force this move. If your triceps are failing, stop doing the exercise. Other muscles will pitch in to help and this is where people risk injuring muscles in their neck or back.


For the most part, the dip is an isolated tricep exercise, hitting the small group of muscles in the back of your arm (you know, the part that waves at you when you brush your teeth). However, your chest, front of shoulders and upper back are players in this exercise too.

wm-0804-tricep-dip-reach Source

Once you’re strong enough to get through 15 reps try lifting one leg off the floor. This will put a little more weight into your arms. If you’re feeling risky, lift one arm up too.

arm-chest-shoulder-exercises-8 Source

Eventually you’ll graduate to having straight legs. Make sure you’re on your heels and not the soles of your feet. This will distribute the weight more into your hands and not your feet. Bend at the hips and bring your butt to the ground without actually touching the ground. Keep your legs straight during this variation.


Once you’ve got that mastered, it’s time to add some height and instability! Pull two benches together or grab an exercise ball to put your feet on.

If that is still too easy, place a plate on your thighs to add extra weight to the exercise. By this point you have triceps made of steel.


Finally, you can to full dips! This is for advanced people only!! Or you can try this out on the assisted machine, which has a loaded step to help you out.

503l Source

Same rules apply here. Shoulders are down, elbows are parallel and not floating to the side. You’ll definitely feel this one more in your chest and your tris will be appropriately destroyed ;)


Question of the Day: What are some moves you’d like to see highlighted in the Perfect Series?