Thursday, July 22, 2010

Triceps Dips: Check your form!

Yesterday was an upper-body day for me, and as I busted out a series of exercises, I concluded the following: I love triceps dips! They burn, but it's a good burn that I've come to appreciate. As should you. Why? Because triceps dips really tone the arms and shoulders, and they can be varied greatly to avoid boredom. But proper form is essential, otherwise you put unnecessary strain on the upper body. I touched on triceps dips briefly in a previous post, however my newly discovered love begs me to revisit. Let's begin with proper form.

1) Start by finding a stable surface (like a bench) on which you can sit. I prefer one that puts my legs at a 90-degree angle, but lower surfaces are acceptable. What's the difference? The higher the platform, the less likely it is that your booty will touch the ground (and no, mine is not touching the ground in the picture at left). Allowing your booty to touch the ground creates room for relaxation and we want to keep those triceps engaged at all times.

2) Grab the side of the bench and slide your hips off it about an inch. Any further and you'll risk straining your upper body. As for your legs, keep them bent at 90 degrees to start (they'll bend even more as you lower into the dip).

3) Slowly bend your arms until they hit the 90-degree mark, then straighten them back to your starting position. That 90-degree mark is important! Go beyond that and you'll put unnecessary strain on your elbow and shoulder joints. Of course, lower benches might not allow you to reach that 90-degree mark. Totally acceptable, as long as your booty stays off the ground.

Easy, right? Master those moves, and you can really start having fun. For example, you can try varying your leg position:

• Straighten your legs.
• Put them on a bench or BOSU.
• Keep one bent at 90 degrees, the other extended in front of you. Alternate accordingly.
• Rest a weight on your knees.
• Have someone hold your feet.

The variations, however, don't stop at your legs. Isolate the burn in your triceps by holding that 90-degree bend for a few seconds. Or, start with both hands and feet on the floor and create a reverse bridge. Lower yourself using both arms, then extend with one as you reach the other toward the ceiling. Lower, then repeat with an extension of the other arm. Continue to alternate as you complete your repetitions. Then stretch. Always, always stretch your muscles after you work them.

Question: Is there a triceps dip variation that really gets you? Or do you avoid triceps dips like the plague? I'm curious! Do tell...


Tammy said...

How do you keep your wrists from hurting during these? Mine always ache.

Tara said...

If your upper body is too far away from the bench, your wrists will have to bend more than necessary to compensate. Hence, the pain. Try to keep your elbows above your wrists at all times so that the wrists stay bended at a more natural 90 degrees.

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