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February 10, 2022 8 min read
Chair dips are an effective bodyweight exercise for tricep strength training. Whether you’re at the gym, at home, or on the go, the chair dip is an essential and functional component of any upper body workout. With nothing more than a simple bench, sturdy chair, staircase, or parallel bars, you can effectively engage the triceps with nothing but your own body weight.
Chair dips or bench dips are excellent exercises for beginners because they can be done almost anywhere.
The simplicity of tricep dips makes it both practical and full of potential to progress the movement and add weight, thereby eliminating the plateau effect that can come with excessive bodyweight-only strength training.
Learning how to properly use a chair to get an effective triceps workout in is a fitness hack you won’t regret.
The tricep brachii is a thick muscle on the back of your upper arms. It is comprised of three parts: long head, lateral head, and medial head.
The purpose of the tricep is elbow extension. Training your triceps isn’t only about looking good in a tank top, although that is a perk.
Much like biceps, triceps can be a highly visible muscles.
Having robust triceps is a must if you do any sort of bicep training. Not only will training both help prevent functional muscular imbalances, there is an aesthetic component to the triceps muscles.
Strengthening your triceps will also assist your bench press and push-ups.
Triceps are synergist muscles for most pushing and pulling movements. If isolating the chest muscles, specifically the pectoralis major, hasn’t been enough to push you past your next bench press plateau, then try adding some triceps exercises to your next chest day!
Incorporating chair dips into your triceps routine can help you look better, and crush your next PR goal on the bench.
It should be noted that your equipment doesn’t have to be limited to a chair. Any sturdy chair or bench will do.
This exercise is commonly done on the side of a bench, and if you’re in a gym setting, then using a bench may actually be ideal.
The ability to use a common sturdy chair for this exercise, however, is a valuable skill to have. Chairs are everywhere. Wherever you find yourself in the world, the chair dip is one exercise that you shouldn’t have trouble finding equipment for.
Whether you’re at home, at the airport, or outside near a bench, a chair is almost always available.
The chair dip may be a simple exercise, but without proper form and a full range of motion it isn’t going to be as effective for triceps muscle growth. There are 3 different primary positions in a chair dip or bench dip, all varying in level of difficulty.
If regular chair dips are too easy for you, and high rep/low weight training isn’t for you, then you can add some difficulty to the exercise without increasing your time under tension (TUT) or the number of reps.
To take your triceps dips to the next level and make it even more challenging, try the straight-legged version of the exercise.
Check out this demonstration on how to perform all three levels of the triceps bench dip.
If you’re advanced in your upper body strength training, then weighted chair dips might be for you! If you’re fit and of healthy body weight, you’ll likely have to go high rep with the chair dip if you aren’t using any added weight. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if high rep, low weight training doesn’t fit into your program, then suddenly the chair dip becomes less appealing.
Adding weight fixes this advanced-level plateau problem.
By placing weighted plates on your thighs, you can effectively increase the load and tailor the triceps chair dip or bench dip to your training goals.
Conveniently, chair dips (or bench dips depending on your available equipment), can be easily incorporated into a bench press circuit routine.
The triceps are important muscle synergists in the bench press exercise.
Adding chair dips in between sets on the bench press is a great way to effectively increase your performance in both of those lifts, and also knock out a time-efficient, properly periodized strength training routine. If bodyweight exercises are more of your thing, then the chair dip can be paired perfectly with push-ups as an alternative to the bench press.
(Rest 60 seconds)
(Rest 60 seconds)
(Rest 60 seconds)
This circuit will help you save a lot of time on your next chest and arm day. After a set like this, your biceps and shoulders will be ready to be worked out.
Parallel bars tricep dips are another great, more advanced way to do tricep dips. A small set of parallel bars can be purchased for home use, but a full-sized set of parallel bars, which can be found at most gyms, will allow for a greater range of motion, and thus, greater results.
The parallel bars should be considered an advanced progression of the chair dip, and it may not be suitable for beginners.
Tricep dips with parallel bars have the added benefit of engaging the chest muscles as well.
It should be noted that the parallel bars are a less isolated version of the tricep dip. The bench press, paired with parallel bar tricep dips, makes an excellent superset for your next chest and triceps day.
Tricep dips, chair dips, and bench dips are all important bodyweight exercises for growing and strengthening the triceps muscles. These triceps exercises can be accomplished from the beginner level to elite athletes, and everyone in between.
With proper form and a substantial amount of repetitions with a solid range of motion, the chair dip exercise is one of the best ways to hack your tricep muscles. The chair dip is just one of many foundational bodyweight exercises that can at the gym, at home, or on the go.
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