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5 Clear Benefits Of Dips & Best Variations For Tricep Day

benefits of dips

Dip exercises are a great way of adding size to your triceps and chest muscles as well as improving upper body strength.  

However, many people overlook them in favor of other exercises like bench presses or push ups.  

But there are many benefits of dips that make them a worthwhile addition to your workout routine.  


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We’re going to be exploring these benefits in this article along with some variations for you to try out next time you’re in the gym.  

Before that, let’s look at why people might shy away from this effective compound exercise.  

Understanding the Difficulty of Bodyweight Dips

There are many different ways of performing tricep dips and they all have one thing in common; they can be difficult to execute with proper form.  

There can be several reasons for this:

bodyweight upright dip

Chest dips require good upper body strength, especially in the chest, triceps, and shoulders.  

If you have a weakness in any (or all) of these specific muscle groups, performing a dip correctly and to a full range of motion will likely be quite challenging.  

Dips aren’t just about the chest and triceps muscles; they demand solid core stability so you can maintain good form throughout the movement.  

Weak core muscles can make it harder to perform dips effectively as you may find it difficult to stabilize yourself. 

Adequate mobility to your elbow, wrist, and shoulder joint is really important if you want to perform a regular dip exercise with good form.  

If you have limited flexibility you may it hard to achieve a good depth and you could even increase your risk of injury to the joints.  

Holding on to a dip bar requires good grip strength, especially for variations like ring dips which require a lot more stability.  

If you lack grip strength this can be a key reason why you find triceps dips hard to do.  

Since dips are a bodyweight exercise, the more you weigh, the more you have to lift.  

While this can be a great way of building muscle mass it also makes them harder to execute.  

So if you happen to carry any extra weight this will increase the tension on your chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles. 

When starting out it’s perfectly normal to find dips hard to do and if you recognize any of the above as limiting factors when you perform dips, it’s a good idea to address them first.  

With plenty of practice, regular strength training, and easier dip variations, most people can gradually improve their ability to perform a traditional dip exercise.

The Positive Impacts and Benefits of Dips

Let’s consider some of the advantages of doing regular bodyweight dips and why you might consider adding them to your upper body workout. 

tricep-weighted-dip-bars

When done correctly and in an upright position, dips can help to strengthen muscles around the spine, helping to promote good posture.

They’re a great exercise for developing the upper chest, which in turn can improve shoulder alignment and prevent slouching.  

Dips can be an effective way of reducing lower back and neck pain.  

We mentioned above that dips can help to correct your posture and improve spinal and shoulder alignment.  

This reduces pressure on the neck and back muscles helping to eliminate discomfort.  

Doing dips every day can be an effective way of increasing your range of motion.  

As you perform dips, your shoulders move through a full range of motion, stretching and strengthening the muscles and connective tissues around the shoulder girdle.

Over time, this repetitive movement can help improve flexibility and mobility in your shoulders, allowing for a greater range of motion in daily activities and other exercises. 

As you lower your body during a dip, the muscles surrounding your shoulder and elbow joints, such as the deltoids, triceps, and chest muscles, have to work hard to control the movement and prevent you from falling.

This engagement strengthens these muscles which increases their ability to stabilize the joints meaning that regular dip workouts can lead to increased joint stability.  

Even though you’re dipping with your own body weight, this resistance will work several muscles at the same time.  

These include the shoulder, triceps, core, and pectoral muscles making dips one of the most effective exercises for boosting upper body strength.  

Potential Risks and Downsides of Dip

While there are many benefits of dips, there are also some risks worth considering before you incorporate them into your training.  

tricep-dip-exercise

Dips can put significant stress on the shoulders, particularly if performed with improper form or if you suffer from any pre-existing shoulder issues which can increase the risk of strain or injury to the shoulder joint.  

The wrist joints are also under pressure when doing dips, especially for those with limited wrist flexibility or strength. 

If you have a poor technique or you inadvertently overload the elbows during dips this can lead to discomfort or even injury to the elbow joint, especially if you don’t control the movement properly or have added additional weight which can increase pressure on the joints.  

Sometimes the lower back can arch excessively during dips, which can put stress on the lumbar spine and surrounding muscles.

The muscles of the lower back, including the erector spinae, are responsible for stabilizing your spine and preventing excessive movement.  

However, if these muscles are not engaged properly or you have weak core muscles, they may struggle to support the spine adequately, leading to an increased risk of straining the lower back.  

Performing dips too often or with excessive volume can lead to overuse injuries, such as tendonitis or bursitis.  

We wouldn’t recommend performing dips every day but instead allow for a sufficient amount of rest so your muscles can recover to grow bigger and stronger.   

The Different Ways Of Doing Dips At Home & In The Gym

Depending on what equipment you have access too may impact how (or where) you can perform dips.  

Let’s look at some different variations. It’s worth mentioning that our below recommendations will work the muscles differently with some options being more challenging than others.  

Bench dips are a great option for beginners, you perform this variation with your hands on a bench, chair, or any stable surface behind you.  

Your legs are extended forward, and you lower your body by bending your arms before pushing back up.  

As your body is positioned at a slight incline, it places less emphasis on the chest compared to parallel bar dips.

Bench tricepd ips

If you have access to a barbell and power rack, this one’s for you.  

Grip the bar with both hands and perform dips by lowering your body in front of the bar and then pushing back up.

Straight bar dips put a greater emphasis on the chest compared to parallel bar dips.

Gripping the bar with both hands allows for a more natural movement pattern and a deeper stretch in the chest muscles.

The classic dip exercise, performed on parallel bars.

You lower your body by bending your upper arms until they’re at a 90-degree angle then push back up to the starting position.

To focus more on the chest, lean forward; to target the triceps more, keep your body upright.

This is a more versatile dip option as when you keep your body in a more upright position, you’ll be putting more tension on your triceps.  

However, if you lean forwards slightly you can shift more of the focus onto your chest muscles.  

dips using parallel dip bars

Performed with gymnastic rings, ring dips require more stability and engage more muscles for balance.

The movement is the same as parallel bar dips but expect a significant increase in difficulty.  

This variation is also ideal if you want to put more emphasis on your pectoralis major.  

This advanced variation is performed on a single straight bar.

You start with your back to the bar, grip it behind you, and then dip down below the level of the bar before pushing back up.

It requires significant shoulder flexibility and strength.  

Korean dips work the same muscles as a regular dip but with greater emphasis on shoulder flexibility and strength.

This advanced variation challenges the muscles in a unique way, particularly the anterior delts, while also requiring a lot of stability and control.

A weighted dip is a good progression once you’ve mastered the standard bodyweight dip.  

With added weight (via a dip belt, weighted vest, or by holding a dumbbell between your feet) you can increase the challenge and stimulate further muscle growth.  

It’s a good way of allowing for progressive overload making them perfect for increasing muscle mass and strength.

If you’re struggling with bodyweight dips, using an assisted dip machine or resistance bands can help.

The assistance takes some of your weight, making the exercise more manageable as you focus on building strength.  

When it comes to muscle activation, they’ll target the same muscles as regular dips, but with less overall load, making them suitable for beginners or those recovering from injury. 

assisted tricep dip machine

By altering your grip width you can change the focus of the exercise.  

By performing dips with a narrow grip you’ll put more emphasis on your triceps.  

On the other hand, by adopting a wider grip (beyond shoulder-width), you’ll engage more of your chest and shoulders.  

How Do Dips Contribute to Functional Strength in Everyday Activities

Dips can make a big difference to functional strength in everyday activities by improving your upper body strength.

When you become stronger this translates into better performance of simple daily tasks like pushing doors, lifting objects overhead, and carrying groceries. 

As dips mimic natural movement patterns, this helps to reinforce the muscles and joints against common stresses.

By engaging multiple muscle groups at the same time, dips ensure a balanced development of the upper body, making it easier to perform a wide range of physical tasks with greater ease and less risk of injury.

Are Dips Better for Building Triceps Compared to Other Exercises

In our opinion, dips are one of the best bodyweight exercises for increasing the size of your triceps brachii when compared to other movements.  

This is because they allow for a full range of motion which enables deep flexion and extension of your elbows placing significant overload on your triceps.  

What’s more, dips can easily be adjusted so that you can vary the intensity by changing your body position or adding resistance, making them adaptable depending on your fitness level and ability.  

Overall, the combination of range of motion, muscle engagement, and variety makes dips an efficient and effective exercise for building triceps strength and size.

If you specifically want to engage your triceps, it’s important to consider the position of your body.  

You’ll want to adopt a more upright position of your upper body with less forward lean as this will reduce tension on your chest and move it to your triceps.  

Final Thoughts

Performing dips correctly is the most important consideration to maximize their benefits and minimize the risk of injury.

Correct form means that the targeted muscles are properly engaged and isolated, leading to bigger strength and muscle gains

To do them properly involves maintaining a controlled movement, avoiding excessive depth that might strain your shoulders, and ensuring that your elbows don’t flare out too widely.

This focused approach will not only encourage muscle growth but also help to protect your joints from unnecessary stress.  

For beginners, starting with variations of dips can be a sensible approach.

These can include bench dips or assisted dips using resistance bands, which may be much less intimidating and provide a foundation to build your strength gradually.

These modified versions help in developing the necessary muscle stability and endurance that you need before moving over to more challenging forms of dips. 

Then, when you want to progress, you can look to incorporate more demanding variations like straight bar dips or ring dips to prevent plateaus and continue to build muscle.

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