The Exercise You Should Try Instead Of Triceps Dips

Triceps dips, or bench dips, are among the most popular arm exercises. When performed correctly, they can build upper body strength and sculpt your arms. This compound movement elicits greater muscle activity than overhead triceps extensions, bar pushdowns, and rope pushdowns, reports the American Council on Exercise. Plus, it's suitable for at-home workouts because it doesn't require special equipment. Sure, you may use parallel bars, but a bench, sofa, or chair will do the trick, too.

"Dips are an excellent movement to build size, strength, and power into the triceps," says fitness coach Charlie Johnson (via Men's Health). This multi-joint exercise also engages your chest, shoulders, and core muscles, leading to improved overall fitness. The downside is that it puts stress on the posterior part of the deltoid, explains the American Council on Exercise. Moreover, it pushes the joint between the scapula and humerus beyond its normal range of motion. These factors may contribute to shoulder impingement and other injuries in the long run.

As physical therapist Jaclyn Fulop told Well+Good, "The shoulder is the most unstable joint in the body and has the least amount of blood flow, so an injury is very common in this area and the rehabilitation process tends to take longer." Bad form can further increase the risk of injuries — it takes just one wrong move to pull your shoulder out of place and end up in pain. Luckily, there are safer alternatives to this popular exercise. Here's what you should try instead of triceps dips. 

Tone and sculpt your arms with this triceps exercise

Triceps dips are effective but risky. A better option is the triceps kickback, says the American Council on Exercise. This single-joint movement activates the long and lateral heads of the triceps to a greater extent without putting stress on your shoulders. Depending on what equipment you have available, you may use a dumbbell, a cable machine, or resistance bands. Verywell Fit recommends starting with light weights and increasing the load gradually.

To perform this exercise, place your left hand on a wall. Grab a dumbbell with your right hand and lean forward without arching your back. Another option is to place your left hand and knee on a bench while holding the dumbbell in your right hand. Brace your core and bend your right elbow at 90 degrees, keeping it close to your body. Next, straighten your arm until it's fully extended and then bring the weight back to 90 degrees. Use your elbow to control the movement and squeeze your triceps when extending the arm. Do the same with your left arm.

If you prefer to use resistance bands, bring your right leg forward and step on the band. Hold one end in your right hand and pull it backward by bending your elbow. Alternatively, step on the middle of the band with both feet and perform this movement with both arms simultaneously (via Likewise, you can use one arm at a time or both arms for dumbbell triceps kickbacks.